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Montgomerie pulls out of Europe's 2006 Ryder Cup captaincy race

Colin Montgomerie says he is still too young to be captain, and hopes to play in one or more future Ryder Cups instead.

December 17, 2004

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (PA) -- Colin Montgomerie has decided to withdraw his name from the list of candidates to be Europe's next Ryder Cup captain.

On the day he received the British PGA Recognition Award for his services to the sport, Montgomerie stated that his focus now is on re-igniting a career that has this year seen him fall from 41st to 80th in the world.

The highlight of his season was, of course, sinking the winning putt at Oakland Hills in September, and in the immediate aftermath of that record-breaking victory the 41-year-old Scot wondered if the time had come to stand for the captaincy.

He has been persuaded otherwise, however.

"I've been told I'm too young," said Montgomerie, and when asked who had told him that, he replied: "Everybody. And after hearing it, I possibly have to agree.

"I think I can play in (in the 2006 Matches in) Ireland and possibly the next couple," he added. "My current world ranking is ridiculous and I want to get back in the top 25 next year. I know I can, in fact I know I am a top-10 player really."

The European Tour's tournament committee, of which Montgomerie is a member, is expected to discuss the captaincy next Monday, and will first of all have to decide whether they want to ask Bernhard Langer to stay in charge.

"It's our job to select the captain who will win the thing," added Montgomerie. "It's his to say 'no' to really and if he says he wants to do it again then there's your captain.

"I think he would be the Ryder Cup players' choice -- nothing flustered him all week," he said. "It's not a ceremonial thing. Losing in Ireland is not an option. We have a golden opportunity to win three times in a row, which we've not done before."

There is no shortage of alternatives to Langer. Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle are all interested in taking over for the first-ever match on Irish soil at the K Club near Dublin. But with European qualifying not starting until next September, there is no necessity for a quick decision.

The Americans have already named Tom Lehman as successor to Hal Sutton, a surprise to many on the European side of the Atlantic.

"I thought it was going to be either Mark O'Meara or Paul Azinger," said Montgomerie. "We will see how he goes and we wish him well. He has a tough job to unify their team and to cope with a huge home support. I think the whole country will stop that week."

After an understandable dip in his fortunes following the break-up of his marriage, Montgomerie needed a wild card to face the Americans for a seventh time.

But his confidence is back, and last week he led the Target World Challenge in California after three rounds before slipping to fourth as Tiger Woods achieved his second win in four weeks.

The immediate priority is to climb back into the top 50 -- quickly. As things stand, Montgomerie does not have a place either in the Masters in April or the US Open in June.

"I was swinging well last week. I've slightly heavier clubs and I was hitting the fairways with them," he added. "I think I've been caught up in the whole rigmarole of trying to hit the ball too far.

"Straight counts for more. If I hit fairways I can hit greens and have a birdie putt," he said. "I've not done it often enough for four or five years and that is what has killed me."

The one interruption to Montgomerie's golf prior to the next Ryder Cup is his plan to take part in the New York-to-Southampton leg of the Round the World yacht race in May 2006.

"All types of insurance have to be sorted out yet and there's a five-day trial at the end of next year, but I want to do it," he said. "To have an opportunity like that is fantastic. It's definitely an experience and a challenge and I'm really excited about it."

Copyright (c)2004 PA Sport. All rights reserved.

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