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Players pushed for Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie’s appointment as Ryder Cup captain looks likely to end an era when former European greats could be confident of getting their “turn” at the job, long after their days as leading players were over.

Europe’s players made it clear they wanted the 2010 Ryder Cup captain to be on the same wavelength as the team and Montgomerie fitted the bill perfectly, tour supremo George O’Grady said after the announcement on Wednesday.

“I think they have taken a view they want a captain in tune with the players,” European Tour chief executive O’Grady said at a news conference.

“I think they do, generally speaking, want a captain more of the same age as some of the players still playing.”

That unequivocal message from the players’ tournament committee put paid to the candidacies of former major winners Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle who are now in their 50s and generally ply their trade in the senior rather than main tour.

Montgomerie, in contrast, may have slipped to 135th in the world rankings and not even previously planned to run as skipper for 2010 but is still a regular on the circuit and his name often appears on tournament leaderboards.

Lyle, the only member of the big five from the 1980s and ’90s who had dominated European and world golf not to have captained the team, now looks destined never to lead his continent’s challenge in golf’s biggest team event.

Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam had all taken a turn in charge, and apart from Faldo, were winning captains.

Faldo, Montgomerie’s predecessor as captain, was 51 and had been out of top-flight golf for several years when his European team were beaten 16 1/2-11 1/2 by the United States at Valhalla, Kentucky last year.

Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the 15-man tournament committee which appointed Montgomerie, did not say whether that defeat had been a major factor in the decision but stressed that the 45-year-old Scot had been a unanimous choice.

“There was no vote involved,” said Bjorn. “We went around the table and everyone seemed to back Monty … it was a unanimous decision. “A very hard and difficult meeting turned out in the end to be a fairly easy one.”

Europe’s two previous captains were also former Major winners of the same generation in Woosnam (2006) and Bernhard Langer (2004).

The other leading candidates for 2010 were Woosnam again, plus Jose Maria Olazabal and Sandy Lyle.

“I spoke to Jose, to Woosie and to Sandy, all three in person,” said Bjorn.

“I had a discussion with Jose and all he said was that … he thinks Monty will be a great captain. Olly is a great man, he is a very popular figure on this tour.

“I think for future Ryder Cup captaincies he (Olazabal) is something that should be considered. There’s a long way to go … but I’m quite sure he will be a consideration for 2012 (in Illinois).”


January 29, 2009

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