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Colin Montgomerie and his 12 man team (Getty Images)

The Captain's Blog - Number 12

European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie welcomes us to the 12th in his series of blogs in the run-up to The Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor which is now less than a month away. It is a highly appropriate blog number for, in it, Monty focuses on completing his 12 man team for Wales.

Roddy Williams, European Tour Editorial Staff

European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie welcomes us to the 12th in his series of blogs in the run-up to The Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor which is now less than a month away. It is a highly appropriate blog number for, in it, Monty focuses on completing his 12 man team for Wales.

There you have it......

Well, now you know. After weeks of speculation in the media as well as amongst my friends and fellow professionals out on Tour, I finally named my three wild card picks to complete The 2010 European Ryder Cup Team.
I was delighted to appear before the watching world on Sunday at Gleneagles and name Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Edoardo Molinari to line up alongside Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher, Francesco Molinari, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Peter Hanson.
I am really excited about the 12 players I will have at my disposal at Celtic Manor. We have the perfect blend of youth and experience, of flair and conservativeness, and of passion and cool headedness. We mustn’t forget, of course, that they are also 12 incredibly talented golfers who, between them, have played in 19 Ryder Cups and have amassed some 149 tournament victories around the world. These guys are winners and I know they will give their all in Europe’s cause to be winners once again for a collective 150th time come the night of Sunday October 3.

Wild things........

I’m sure every captain would say the same, but I must admit that I don't think any captain has had the difficulty that I had on Sunday in trying to select three wild cards out of a possible ten players, all of whom would have been good enough to play in Wales. The standard of European golf has been second to none this year and all credit to every single one of the players for giving myself and my vice captains a very tough afternoon.
It was a difficult time for me. I had the incredibly difficult task of having to leave out outstanding players and to try to communicate with them when many of them were actually on the golf course in the States. The fact that world Top ten players and multiple winners this year are not in the team and yet we still say that we have a wonderful team just goes to show how far the Tour has come but my heart still goes out to those players who missed out, who are friends and great players, but we now have to look forward.
We had an embarrassment of riches at our disposal this year and I have said many times that I wished the Ryder Cup Team could contain 20 players. But it doesn’t. It contains just 12 and we are all delighted with the three players who came through to join those who qualified automatically.
Padraig Harrington has won three major championships in the last three years. He has immense stature in the game and is someone we feel that nobody in match-play golf wants to face. He is a great competitor and someone that will give absolutely everything to the team.
In Luke Donald, we have someone that is equally at home in foursomes or fourball golf and can partner anyone which is a vital component for a captain to have up his sleeve. He has played seven times in his two Ryder Cup appearances to date and has only lost once. That is hugely impressive and, don’t forget, he also played exceptionally well in The Celtic Manor Wales Open in June so is obviously comfortable with The Twenty Ten Course – another key factor.
Finally, what can you say about Edoardo Molinari and his stunning victory at Gleneagles. I can honestly say that in my time as a player on The European Tour, I don't think I've seen a finish of that quality under such pressure by anyone, ever. All credit to him for having gone to Gleneagles, won the tournament, and in doing so succeeded in joining his brother as the first Continental brother partnership to play in The Ryder Cup.

Rookies in name only.......
A lot has been made of the fact that half of my team in Wales will be rookies. I cannot deny that fact as it is there on paper but, what I will say, is the fact that that word tends to be associated with inexperience. However, it is impossible to categorise any of my ‘first timers’ in that manner.
They are certainly not like I was when I made my debut at Kiawah Island in 1991. I was very new to the whole thing and playing alongside giants of the game in our team that year such as Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer. Remember also that I had hardly played much competitive golf in America either by then – so how can you compare that to the likes of the ‘rookies’ I have in my team?
Martin Kaymer? Yes, technically, Martin is a rookie but he has already won a Major Championship on American soil just three weeks ago with his stunning victory in the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Rory McIlroy? Yes, technically, Rory is a rookie but is already in golf’s history books as the youngest player to break into the top 50 of the world rankings and earlier this year carded a stunning 62 in the final round to come from behind to beat Phil Mickelson and win on the US PGA Tour.
Ross Fisher? Yes, technically, Ross is a rookie but has already played for England twice in the World Cup in addition to the not insignificant fact that he is the reigning Volvo World Match Play Champion having triumphed last year in Spain.
Peter Hanson? Yes, technically, Peter is a rookie but showed tremendous guts and determination to go to the Czech Republic two weeks ago and win the tournament which got him into the top nine placings in addition to finishing in the top 20 at Gleneagles to cement his place.
Francesco and Edoardo Molinari: Yes, technically, Francesco and Edoardo are both rookies but they have already succeeded as a partnership by winning the World Cup for Italy for the first time last year. Francesco is one of the most consistent players I have ever seen and, as I said earlier, we all saw what Edoardo did at Gleneagles.
Not much inexperience there I would say, would you?

And Sergio makes four.......

As well as announcing my three wild cards on Sunday, I also was delighted to pull a bit of a surprise on the world’s media by announcing that I will have a fourth Vice Captain at Celtic Manor in the considerable presence of Sergio Garcia.
If there is one word that describes Sergio García in The Ryder Cup, then that word surely is passion. Along with his fellow countrymen Seve Ballesteros and José Maria Olazábal, they all brought real fervour to the contest and I know that Sergio will be a great asset to the European cause to regain The Ryder Cup.
We talked for the first time about the possibility of this happening during The Open at St Andrews. He told me he was trying his hardest to make the team but if that didn’t transpire, he wanted me to know he was there for me and the European Team 100% and if I wanted him there during the week in Wales then all I had to do was ask.
In a week of hard decisions, that was one of the easiest I had to make and I am delighted that Sergio will link up with Thomas Björn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley behind the scenes. What an incredibly experienced backroom team that is for, in addition to myself, we have 23 Ryder Cup appearances between us so we’ll know exactly what the team of 2010 will be going through and what they will need to bring out the best in them on the course.

Thanks for reading and, until next time, I wish you all good health and good golf.

Colin Montgomerie

for more from Monty, please visit his official site: www.colinmontgomerie.com

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