Monday, January 4, 2010

Colin Montgomerie: European Ryder Cup 2010 Captain

Colin Montgomerie, European Ryder Cup 2010 Captain has thrived in many arenas during a glittering career of record breaking individual success. Yet, it is his achievement in a team event which unquestionably best defines the passion and pride of this unique sporting figure.

Representing Europe in eight Ryder Cup matches, he was never beaten in a singles contest, but his influence in a period of unprecedented European success runs much deeper than that.

Montgomerie has been the catalyst, the leader and the closer.  He is the most talked about European golfer of his generation and even though, in The Ryder Cup, he was only ever one individual of a dedicated dozen, he would invariably come to the fore. 

Perhaps this was best illustrated in the 2004 contest at Oakland Hills where the talismanic Scot had been the grateful recipient of a wildcard selection. Captain Bernhard Langer did not dare take on the Americans in their own backyard without him.

Montgomerie started and finished the job.  Partnering Padraig Harrington to a 2 and 1 victory in the opening match against the American ‘dream-team’ of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, he helped set the tone for a stunning three days in Detroit. When he then holed the winning putt on the final green in Sunday’s singles to edge out the doughty David Toms, Montgomerie ensured the trophy would remain in European hands.

Born in Glasgow in June 1963, Colin Stuart Montgomerie OBE grew into a colossus of the European game with 31 Tour victories to his name. All that has ever been missing is a Major title. Twice he has lost play-offs, in the 1994 US Open Championship and in the US PGA Championship the following year. He has been runner up in two more US Opens and in The Open Championship at St Andrews in 2005, the year he claimed his record eighth Harry Vardon Trophy as European Number One.

They say golfing greatness is defined by the Majors, but Montgomerie is perhaps the exception to that rule. Despite winning all of The European Tour’s biggest prizes, The Ryder Cup 2010, where he has starred in a record equalling five victories – provides the Scot with his greatness. 

No-one who was there will ever forget the way he held his nerve at Club de Golf Valderrama in 1997 to secure a half point and the overall victory for Europe in a tense singles decider against Scott Hoch. He also revelled in the responsibility of being sent out first in the singles matches by skipper Sam Torrance at The Belfry in 2002, once again coming up against that man Hoch, but this time trouncing him 5 and 4.   Crucially, he did the same job to similar effect for Ian Woosnam at The K Club in 2006 where once again David Toms was his victim on the final green.

Now it is Montgomerie’s turn to decide the batting order. The European Tour’s Tournament Committee jumped at the chance of appointing him Captain as soon as he made it clear he would be up for the job at The Celtic Manor Resort. He will lead Europe with the passion that has been the hallmark of his Ryder Cup career.

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