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Nick Faldo boost for Colin Montgomerie

Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo is confident Colin Montgomerie can emerge from his slump and be part of Europe’s team for the ninth time.

Montgomerie, who has never lost a singles match in the Ryder Cup, has not won in 10 months as his world ranking has plunged to No. 90. He already has failed to qualify for the Masters and The Players Championship, missing out on ranking points.

“I firmly believe Monty will turn it around. I certainly haven’t counted that out,” Faldo said Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Wentworth. “He has a great way of producing the goods when really needed. A player of his ability has enough time to make it happen.”

The Ryder Cup is Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky. Montgomerie has played on every team since 1991, the longest active streak on either team. But that doesn’t guarantee him a captain’s pick if he fails to earn a spot.

“It all depends where he is over the last six weeks of qualifying, what I’ve got on the team and what I need,” Faldo said.

While Montgomerie’s form may be a concern, other players are giving Faldo more to cheer about.

Sergio Garcia, a mainstay of the last four European teams, ended a three-year drought by winning The Players Championship two weeks ago. Darren Clarke, meanwhile, got his first European Tour victory in five years at the Asian Open last month.

Clarke’s wife Heather died of cancer in August 2006, a few weeks before the Ryder Cup at The K Club in Ireland, where he played and won all three of his matches.

Faldo said Clarke’s win in Asia “was great for Darren more so because of what he’s been through off the golf course. Obviously I congratulate Darren on his efforts. What he showed at The K Club was character beyond belief.”

Europe has defeated the United States by record margins (18 1/2 -9 1/2 ) the last two times in the Ryder Cup and has captured the cup eight of the last 11 matches. Faldo, now an analyst for CBS Sports on the PGA Tour, has noticed a change in the U.S. attitude.

“It is very prevalent, the number of players who talk about the Ryder Cup,” he said. “They are very keen. Every interview, any player, they want to make that Ryder Cup team. It’s the top priority for their top 50 guys.”

He said U.S. captain Paul Azinger will make sure “they’ll be coming at us full guns. And that’s how our guys will be thinking too.”

May 21, 2008


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