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EUROPEAN RYDER CUP CAPTAIN'S PICK ANNOUNCEMENT
SCOTT CROCKETT: Ladies and gentlemen, it's my very great pleasure to welcome you to a special occasion for The European Tour, the announcement of the next European Ryder Cup captain.
To start the press conference off, I'd like to introduce Chief Executive of The European Tour, Mr. George O'Grady thank you, George.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Scott, thank you, and ladies and gentlemen thank you very much for taking the time to join us today. And perhaps I can start by thanking you, Mohammed, as vice chairman of golf in Dubai for making us so welcome here in Dubai again and affording us this facility on the 20th Dubai Desert Classic.
Everyone knows the top table: Richard Hills, Ryder Cup director; Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the Players Committee; and the 2010 Ryder Cup Captain for Europe, Colin Montgomerie.
I think that's it. (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT: Before we move into questions, congratulations, and maybe you'd like to kick us off with your own initial thoughts.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you, Scott, and I echo what Chief Executive George has said in welcoming you all to Dubai here and to Mohammed for his hospitality here today.
This is obviously one of the most proud moments that I can think of, and very, very proud and honoured to be selected by the committee to be the 2010 Ryder Cup captain. Not just honoured, but it's a huge responsibility, as well. Having lost the last Ryder Cup in Valhalla, it is important that we do everything that we can, and I promise you that I will be doing everything I can to claim back The Ryder Cup in Wales in 2010.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Colin, thank you for that. We'll move into questions.
Q. Colin, you were so insistent that you wanted to play in 2010, Celtic Manor. Who or what changed your mind?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The players, I believe, and I've always had huge respect for the players out here on The European Tour, and for what they have been saying over the last two weeks when we have been talking and through Thomas, our chairman of the committee, and I've been listening and taking heed of what they have been saying.
It just seems that the time is right for me to take the helm here and to be captain, so I can tell you right now that when the qualification system starts, that all of the points that I earn as a player for The Ryder Cup will be nullified, and although I'll still be in the Order of Merit, if you like, The Race to Dubai, I will not in any way, shape or form come anywhere near qualifying for the team.
So I am the captain, and a very proud and honoured man I am right now.
Q. How difficult a decision was it to accept given that you might be giving up your last chance to play on that team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I may well be. I don't truthfully believe that I cannot compete in 2012. That is now my aim.
But we are concentrating today on 2010, and that's where we are.
Q. José Maria Olazábal and Sandy Lyle were very much part of the equation as far as we understand this captaincy is concerned, will you be inviting them to be vice captains with you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's quite obvious that José Maria will be part of my team at Celtic Manor. I'm of a great understanding and respect for him; we first came together in 1984 in the British Amateur final, and it's amazing how the two of us have gone forward in this game from that date.
As to anyone else to be involved, this decision has only been taken half an hour ago, and you'll know in due course as to who else will be a back room staff, if you like, but it's very important that we get those particular players and members of the Tour with me to try and claim back The Ryder Cup in 2010.
Q. How significant is your close relationship with all of The European Tour players? Nick Faldo took some flak for not knowing the team well enough.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think that was a committee decision. I think I can speak on behalf of Thomas here, as well, that we decided on this occasion that someone of that age might not be playing and playing with all of these players.
I think it's a great opportunity of mine to captain players that I have competed with and will compete with over the next year and a half. I don't have to go through the names, but you understand who I'm talking about, and I have competed with them throughout my career and I look forward to captaining them.
Q. Congratulations, Colin.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you.
Q. A fortnight ago, you were a 50 to 1 outsider for this job. You went into the committee meeting in Abu Dhabi, when you went in, did you have any inkling that you were a candidate for the job at the time?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not really. I don't think I was, until we started the discussion. Thomas, our chairman, started the discussion, and it went forward, and it became clearer and clearer through that discussion that it might be a possibility for me to do it at this time.
Q. And looking at your role between now and then, you are well known for being very well versed with sponsors and dealing with sponsors very well. Do you have a credit crunch role to play in terms of attracting sponsors to the next Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I don't think that's my particular role to answer. I think I've got very good people right and left of me to answer that.
All I can say, that the Ryder Cup is a very financial rewarding exercise for The European Tour as a whole, and we aim to claim it back.
Q. And Thomas, as the chairman of the committee, a lot of speculation that you may have named two captains today, with José Maria Olazábal potentially the captain for 2012. Can you give us your thinking on the nature of the announcement today?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, it became very obvious in the discussions in Abu Dhabi that we wanted the right man for the job in 2010.
As that meeting progressed, Monty's name came more and more into the frame. I think we at one stage thought about naming two because that's what we did in the past. But we have felt that concentrating on one Ryder Cup at a time is probably what we should be doing, and so we made a decision that we were going to concentrate on 2010 and announce the right man for that job.
And I can say that that whole committee unanimously thought that the man sitting to the right of me is the right man to win The Ryder Cup and right man to lead those men into battle.
Q. When we spoke recently, you were fairly firm in your desire to take the captaincy at Gleneagles. How much did that weigh on your decision making process here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it was found, that as Thomas so rightly said, when we started the meeting in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, that it was found that my name was cropping up an awful lot, more in the discussion than I first foresaw, and now wholly glad that it did. I think 5 1/2 years is a long time, in any walk of life, especially sport, and we as a committee decided that this was the right time.
Q. And are you happier to be captaining a team on home soil rather than on American soil?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, I'm just happy to be captain of the team. It doesn't really matter to me whether it be at home or as such away. I'm just very proud to be captaining The Ryder Cup Team.
Q. You have two weeks' time since your name first cropped up for the captaincy. I'm sure you went through the whole gamut of experience that you will be experiencing in the next two years' time. Did you think of any terms and conditions that you wanted, European Tour Players Committee to agree upon? I'm sure you must have put some condition of yours. Can you name a few?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I can't at this stage because we haven't gone through that. We work as a committee very closely, from our Chief Executive down, and we will work towards one getting the strongest team that's available to play at Celtic Manor and other decisions.
I will go along with any committee decision that's put in front. And with the wealth of talent that we have on The European Tour, we could field three teams that are almost as strong as each other. This is a very exciting time for The European Tour as a whole. We have new talent emerging. We have a nucleus of the team that I'm sure will remain. But we have new talent emerging that I will be very, very excited to captain; to captain, and not just to captain, but also to win.
Q. I want to establish firstly whether Sandy Lyle was a candidate in the vote this afternoon.
GEORGE O'GRADY: In the discussion, I think absolutely, and I think I can speak for our chairman, when Sandy has been phoned and all of the other candidates that were seriously discussed have been phoned, as well, and spoken to, and Sandy was, yes.
Q. Does this mean Sandy's chances of captaining The Ryder Cup Team seem to have vanished?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Vanished, I don't think so. I think they have taken a view that they want a captain in tune with the players, one whose passion well, everything that Colin Montgomerie stands for, that's what they went for. I think they do, generally speaking, want a captain more of the same age as some of the players still playing, and I think you can read into that.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Continuing on the Scottish theme, we have a question on e mail from Mike Aiken. When you first became a Ryder Cup player in 1991, obviously that was the year you sadly lost your mother, I know it meant a lot to you to be a Ryder Cup debutante in that year, how does the honour of The Ryder Cup captaincy compare to making your debut as a player?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: When I first made my debut under a Scottish captain in Bernard Gallacher in 1991, it was an experience that I will always remember, playing on the same team as heroes of mine who I have grown up with: The likes of Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer and Seve and José Maria, and the same players. And I dreamt obviously one day that this opportunity might come my way, but far off dreams, I must admit. We speak here, what, 17, 18 years later, and here it is.
So I'm just all I can say to Mike Aiken: Thanks for his question and I'm very, very proud to be here today.
Q. You have a lot of experience in The Ryder Cup, what is the one message that you will try to instill in your players next year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's very easy. We go and we claim back The Ryder Cup. I've been given a task, not just to captain this team in Wales, but to win back The Ryder Cup in Wales.
We feel something's missing on this table here, and the last three Ryder Cup captains have had the privilege of sitting here with The Ryder Cup in front of them. We don't this evening, and it's my job to make that to make that come true for our following captain in 2012.
Q. What will you do differently to Nick Faldo?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As I was saying earlier on, this decision has only been made half an hour ago, and I have learned an awful lot under the sick captains that I have had the privilege of playing under. And not having played under Nick Faldo, I can't answer that question.
So I will have learnt and have learnt an awful lot from the six captains that I have played under and participated under, and will take that knowledge forward into 2010.
Q. Where does this leave you for 2014 at Gleneagles; is that out of the question?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I never said that. I would like to think that we're talking about 2010 here, and what, as I said, earlier on, what happens in the future, who knows. All I'm glad about is that we stand here in 2010 and I'm able to lead the team going into there.
Q. Would you still like to captain at Glenneagles in 2014, that would be a big honour to captain in Scotland, wouldn't it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That depends on a number, a number of hypothetical situations that we want to get into this evening. We just want to talk about 2010 this evening, please.
Q. You have close ties with Celtic Manor, the Welsh seem to like you, how important is that, your familiarity?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is very important I think. I have a course down there and I have enjoyed all of my visits down to Wales and I look forward to the coming year and a half to spend as much time as possible and getting to know every blade of grass of that golf course and where and what should happen down there. There will be no stone left unturned, as I said, in the committee room tonight, left unturned as to 100 per cent effort in claiming back to Ryder Cup.
Q. There didn't seem to be much fun about The Ryder Cup; is that going to be one of your tasks, to put a smile back on the face of the players in the competition?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yet again, I can't speak for what happened in 2008. I wasn't there. All I can say is that the times I played in The Ryder Cup, I've played eight times. I've managed to win five out of the eight, and on every occasion I must admit that we have had fun.
I think that a team that's having fun will play better for me, and I think that it is important and imperative that if one enjoys themselves, they are usually quite good at it, and I intend to have the teams enjoying themselves at all times during this experience that they are going to go through at Celtic Manor in 2010.
Q. Thomas, can you say to us whether the decision for Colin to become captain was unanimous or was it a majority vote or was there a huge amount of debate about it?
THOMAS BJÖRN: It was a unanimous decision. It takes a lot of discussion when you come into a situation like this. I think we have a lot of great players available to us as possible captains, but it was a unanimous decision. There was no vote involved. We went around the table and everyone seemed to back Monty for this captaincy. What I felt the last couple of weeks was going to be a very hard and difficult meeting turned out in the end to be a fairly easy one I have to say.
So I think we as a committee are very proud we are sitting with Monty as our captain for Wales. We felt that all the way through the discussions and when we landed on Colin's name, it was obvious to us that that is where it was going to take us.
We are very proud of announcing him as captain?
Q. And if I've understood it correctly, the original idea came specifically from you, did it?
THOMAS BJÖRN: No. You've got to understand that my position as chairman is not to make any decisions. It's a 15 man committee, and my role is to get the discussions started. There were no agendas going in there. We started the meeting asking who would propose who for captain or which names should be on the table for captain and we discussed all of them.
In the end, you know, when the discussions went on, it became very obvious that this was the man for the job?
Q. What I'm trying to get out, was Colin the name that first came from your mouth in the meeting two weeks ago, before you then discussed it, obviously; had anybody else thought of that?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Actually it didn't come out of my mouth.
So I'd like to not say I stand away from that, because I think this is a great captain. But I do think it was one of the other players that said when the best man for the job was the line that came up, it came straightaway that, well, the best man for the job in Wales would be Colin Montgomerie.
Q. And Colin, if I could just ask you, if you could choose one word to hopefully describe what will you be your captaincy, what would that word be?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, right now, responsibility. It's a very responsible position that I now have taken, and with that comes an awful lot, but at the same time, it's responsibility that hopefully for The European Tour's sake, will end up in victory.
Q. Can I just ask, Colin's appointment as been well trade and heavily predicted in the press the last few weeks and there was clearly a leak or we got very lucky in our guess; is there something you are concerned about, especially with the gambling that appeared to go on on Colin's appointment?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Yes, we are concerned. Any rumour that in any way tarnishes golf's unique reputation concerns everyone from the Tour and the tournament committee.
We did what we said we would do in Abu Dhabi when newspaper articles mentioned the betting situation. We investigated it. We obviously cannot get anywhere with betting companies. They are private contracts and Betfair invited us to talk to them and we did. They feel the whole market has moved in response to newspaper comment on some leak.
We can't really believe anybody in the committee room has used this information, but we have discussed it today. The entire committee is concerned to make sure that nothing like that ever has a chance of happening again because the committee will be appalled that someone has ever inadvertently perhaps leaked it. The amount of sums we are told involved on the swing of bettings is minuscule and could have been at one level.
We have completed whatever investigation we can complete, and we'll take great care in the future.
Q. Last year, the U.S., one of the factors for their success is the four captain's picks given to Paul Azinger. Are you thinking of asking for any change in the qualification criteria? Are you planning for asking for four captain's picks?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That has not been discussed and won't be discussed until the next committee meeting, I believe, in May, before our qualification system starts.
So unfortunately I can't answer that question right now, but that will be a committee decision and I will abide by that decision.
Q. How well do you know Corey Pavin, and can you give us a flavour of your experiences with him in the past, and when will you be speaking to him?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I haven't spoken to Corey yet. But at the same time, I respect him as a competitor. I think that's the word that describes Corey Pavin very much.
I've played Corey Pavin in The Ryder Cup on three occasions, and coming out on top twice, just. But at the same time, every match is a tough game, and I know that having won The Ryder Cup the last time with America, there's no question that he wants to retain that trophy as far as we want it back.
So the Matches will be a very close affair. We all know that. And I do respect him and I'll be calling him later on this evening.
Q. Two questions really. One, have you spoken to José Maria Olazábal because he put his name forward late last week and said he would like to be considered; and two, how did he take it, if you have spoken to him, and has he been given any assurances that 2012 is very likely to be his?
THOMAS BJÖRN: Well, I tell you that I've spoken to three people after the meeting. I spoke to José and I spoke to Woosie and I spoke to Sandy Lyle, all three in person. Just to give them the information before we gave it to you, which I thought was appropriate.
I had a discussion with José now before I came in here and all he says is that, you know, he thinks it's a good decision. He thinks Monty will be a great captain. He feels no bad will for anything. He feels great about the decision. I think he is very much concerned about his health, and he wishes Monty all the best of luck and all of us luck with winning back The Ryder Cup.
Ollie is a great man. He is a very, very popular figure on this tour. I think him for future Ryder Cup captaincies is something that should be considered. He has been given no re assurances of anything. There's a long way until the 2012 Matches, so we can't reassure anybody of anything, but I'm quite sure everything allowing that he will be a consideration for the 2012 Matches, that's for sure.
It's not easy when you've got great potential captains like the ones we had this time to name one, but that's what we had to do, and we believe that that's the right decision we made.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Colin, many, many, congratulations on your appointment. Thank you for coming tonight and good luck in Wales.
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