Friendly rivals - the Captains begin Ryder Cup week with some friendly banter (Getty Images)
Montgomerie and Pavin serve up a Ryder Cup feast
In a wide-ranging press conference which covered topics as diverse as the use of Twitter and the state of the Twenty Ten Course, Colin Montgomerie perhaps saved his best until last.
By Paul Symes, europeantour.com
“I’m here on behalf of The European Tour,” said Europe’s Captain, “and we run The Ryder Cup now. We’re very proud of what we have put together here. So it’s not my success that matters, and it’s not anyone else’s success either. It’s The European Tour’s success if this result goes our way on Sunday night. All I’m doing is managing a team on behalf of The European Tour this particular week, so to me, individually, it doesn’t matter. But as a Tour, from [chief executive] George O’Grady down, it means the world to us all.”
That put the cap on an enjoyable half an hour in the company of Messrs Montgomerie and Pavin, whose easiness in one another’s company made for a relaxed feel top the discussion, rather than a formal press conference.
Several times the two men interjected with a quick quip – and invariably at their own expense. Asked whether he felt his counterpart’s preparations were at a more advanced stage, Pavin replied that it was he who was the more advanced – at least in terms of his age.
Similarly, when the American Captain revealed that he hadn’t hit a golf shot for more than a month, Montgomerie went even further. “I haven’t hit a golf shot for about two years now,” he joked, alluding to his rather inconsistent form over the past two campaigns.
But Montgomerie put his serious head back on when he vowed to become the first Captain to revert to being a Team member at the following Ryder Cup.
“This is the first time I’ve ever arrived at a tournament with no golf clubs,” he said. “It feels very strange in many ways – it’s the biggest event in my golfing career, and I’ve come here with no clubs. I stood on the first tee on Friday when I arrived, and had my own thoughts about playing again in The Ryder Cup. And after this great honour and responsibility, I intend to do my utmost to try to make the Team in 2012.
“No European has ever played in The Ryder Cup after captaining the Team, and I would like to try to achieve that goal and play again, because I do love this competition. Whether I’m playing or captaining I just love the whole experience, and I’m now really looking forward to Friday.”
Which players Montgomerie intends to pair together on the opening day also came up as a subject for discussion, with Europe’s Captain freely revealing his hand – or at least some of it.
“Obviously I have certain pairings in mind,” he admitted. “It’s obvious that you might see the Molinaris playing together – I don’t think that would shock anybody, so I might as well tell you right now. And the two lads from Northern Ireland [Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy] are great pals and play very well together, so you might see them together as well...do you want me to continue?”
“Yes please,” came Pavin’s reply, quick as a flash. “And if you could tell me the order too, that’d be great.”
Much was then made of the set-up of the Twenty Ten Course, which Montgomerie labelled “the fairest test for many a year”.
Much was also made of the Twitter ban – though Montgomerie declined to use the word – imposed on both Teams. Montgomerie professed to having never been tempted to Tweet in his life, and claimed not to know which of his players were aficionados of the social networking site.
The most avid user in the European camp is England’s Ian Poulter, which would probably not surprise his Captain, but his followers are outnumbered by those of Stewart Cink in the American camp.
Poulter recently had an online disagreement with NBC commentator Johnny Miller, and Montgomerie was keen to avoid the sort of fallout which followed online postings by other famous sporting stars.
He said: “It’s not a ban, because if somebody does it, how can you punish him for it? I’ve just asked my Team not to this week, and they have said that’s fine, we’ll start Tweeting again on Monday October 4. I don’t know who Tweets or who doesn’t Tweet on our team – all I know is that the Captain definitely doesn’t!”
What Captain Montgomerie – as he enjoyed being called – definitely has done, however, is written two speeches for the closing ceremony: one in the event of Europe losing, and the other in the event of them finishing as “runner-up”.
His counterpart, on the other hand, is happy to adopt a more off-the-cuff approach. “I don’t have any speeches written yet,” admitted Pavin. “I haven’t really given it much thought. Obviously I’ve written some notes down about the opening ceremonies, but for the most part, I just prefer to speak from my heart.”
Heart will undoubtedly play a big part in which Team takes The Ryder Cup away from Celtic Manor Resort with them. With these two fierce competitors at the helm, nothing less than 100 per cent commitment will do.