Colin Montgomerie has had plenty on his mind over the last few weeks. (Getty Images)
Captain's Blog: Moving on with Monty
The Work Goes On ...
I said, in my last blog, that The Ryder Cup is never far from my thoughts and that has once again been very much the case this past month. For example, before I played in the pro-am for the BMW International Open in Munich I had three hours of meetings with various people on Ryder Cup matters, including a design team from Glenmuir regarding the outfits for not only the players but also the caddies during the week of the tournament.
It is very interesting because we’ll face a very different challenge to the one at Valhalla because the temperature in Kentucky at that time of year was between 25-30 degrees while our exhaustive studies into Wales at that time of year over the past four or five years tells us that the maximum we can expect will be about 12 degrees.
So it is a different system we will have in place and we’ll have to go with a more autumnal feel to our clothing including layers to wear underneath in case it is very cold. We have also looked into different thickness of shirts and sweaters and indeed waterproofs which can be changed and altered according to the weather. All of this just goes to prove what I said earlier. When I was a player I just turned up, put on the gear that was there and started playing. But as Captain, I am instrumental in all of what all goes on behind the scenes. A further example of that - I am going to Canali in a couple of weeks time to look into what we are going to wear for opening and closing ceremonies too, as well as the dinner suit for the Gala Dinner. It is amazing, but I’m loving every minute of it.
Glorious Gaynor ...
On the topic of clothes, I’m delighted to say that Gaynor has started to look into the various clothing options for the wives and girlfriends too. She has been up to Paul Costelloe in London and we have been looking at outfits in various colour ranges, styles and sizes so they can choose which ones they like. She is really enjoying that challenge. It’s a difficult one, but one she is relishing and I know it is one she will excel at.
Well Done, Wales ...
Talking of The Ryder Cup – which I tend to do, don’t I?! – I have to say that the 2010 venue was a big success during The Celtic Manor Wales Open. I was delighted that Corey Pavin and his wife Lisa made the effort to come over. Gaynor and I had dinner with them both during their trip and I am sure they were very impressed with the whole set-up, the hotel, the clubhouse and all the facilities. The course also held up very well considering the wet weather, and it just goes to show that the work they have put in over the past 12 months on drainage on the golf course has paid off. I am sure that Corey and Lisa will have returned to the States with the memory of the warmth of the hospitality we, and all of Wales, showed them, and safe in the knowledge that the same will be the case every time they travel over this side of the Atlantic.
Well Done, Nick ...
I am delighted to take this opportunity to congratulate Nick Faldo on the knighthood bestowed on him recently in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. I know, first hand, what a great honour it is to travel to Buckingham Palace on days such as those and I am sure Nick will relish every minute of his trip there.
It is obviously a wonderful honour for him first and foremost but it is also wonderful for the game of golf to be recognised as Nick joins the exalted company of Sir Henry Cotton and Sir Bob Charles.
Bethpage Bonus ...
Although Europe didn’t unearth a winner at Bethpage, it was good to see that Ross Fisher, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Søren Hansen and Sergio Garcia all featured in the top ten. We know all about the big tournament winning ability of players like Henrik and Sergio but the performances of Rory, Ross and Søren proved once again that all three are global players which is excellent from a European golfing perspective. Congratulations too to Lucas Glover. It was a bit of a surprise victory, he even admitted that himself, but he was in control of his ball well all week, he holed out well too and he was patient and that is what it takes. I did feel that Tiger would win, I said so in a newspaper column that I wrote before the tournament, but he just didn’t drive the ball well enough and he didn’t hole out as well as he usually does. It was ironic in the end that he only lost by four shots as he almost dropped all of those in the front nine of the first day. But, as I’ve said before and I’ll say again, that is golf.
Scotland, Here We Come ...
In the Major arena of course we now look ahead to Turnberry. I played it the other week and I had a great day not least for the fact that my father caddied for me that day, well he guided the electric trolley around the fairways at least! We were hosted royally by Turnberry I have to say. The course is in beautiful condition, so good that they could host the Open tomorrow no problem, it is absolutely fantastic. It is quite ironic I suppose, considering I have my Academy there, that I don’t have a lot of playing experience at Turnberry. I have only played one Open there, in 1994 where I finished eighth which wasn’t bad - I didn’t play in 1986. I’m really looking forward to going back in July though.
My Olympic Ideal ...
Most people know I was in Lausanne recently, trying to play my part in persuading the International Olympic Committee to include golf in the Olympics for 2016. I like Switzerland as a country anyway but it is some setting there. The IOC is probably as high as you go in world sport and the building and all the set-up there were very impressive.
I feel golf is truly a global game and I hope we succeed with our bid. It won’t involve me on the playing side if it does get the nod in seven years time but at the same time I think it is right that in my position right now I have a say in the future of the game in that direction.
I think myself, Annika Sorenstam who is six months pregnant and did fantastically well to travel over and speak, Tim Finchem, Hisako Higuchi, Peter Dawson and Ty Votaw put our case across well and we hope that in Copenhagen on August 13, when the decision is announced, that it turns out we did enough.
The tennis guys took it very seriously when tennis got back into the Olympics the last time, you only need to look at who won it – Nadal – and how proud he was when the Spanish anthem was played and the flag was raised after he had received his gold medal. He is now an Olympic champion and that is something to relish for any sportsman, it is something you can never take away and something that I am sure if golfers get the chance to play, they will embrace too.
Birthday Bonanza ...
I think it is fair to say, that of the 46 birthdays I have had so far in my life, the latest one the other week was the most bizarre I have ever had. An alarm call at 3.00am at home was not possibly the way I would have chosen to start it but that is what I had to do. I was picked up at my house in a car at quarter to four and taken to Edinburgh Airport where I got on a private jet to France from where I was whisked to the centre of Paris in a speeding car right to the Champs Elysees and to the offices of Vivendi to give my backing to their sponsorship of The Vivendi Trophy with Severiano Ballesteros at the official press launch. I think the company will be a wonderful asset to the tournament and to The European Tour as a whole and I welcome their involvement. Seve himself called me and thanked me for my support and it was great to hear from him and of course I wished him well in his continuing battle to get back to health.
I think it is going to be a super event. It has already been noted that I asked for Thomas Björn and Paul McGinley to be the captains of the respective teams and it is obvious that I might well be looking on their experience to help me at Celtic Manor in 2010. I do plan to attend the event to watch what is going on and I look forward to seeing how both teams progress. I am sure we will have two excellent teams in place.
Once all that was done, I was whisked back to the airport to the same jet where my golf clubs and my luggage were waiting to be flown the hour and a half to Munich where I drove straight to the golf club to take part in a clinic with the junior German golfers before the BMW International Open. We then did a little press conference with the juniors and they presented me with a bottle of champagne which was super.
In fact everyone was really nice to me, even the guys who met me at Edinburgh Airport at 5am in the morning wished me Happy Birthday. After the clinic with the juniors I went to the Draw Party in Munich and everybody wished me well, in fact David Howell, whose birthday it is the same day, and I were both clapped onto the stage which was lovely. By the time I got back to my room it was about 9pm and I was so exhausted, I had a quick bite to eat from room service and went straight to bed! As I said, bizarre, but memorable nonetheless.
Good Luck to One and All ...
Although all my energy and focus is on The 2010 Ryder Cup, it was interesting to note that the other day Ryder Cup Europe confirmed that six countries – France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden – have announced their intention to bid for The 2018 Ryder Cup. It may seem a long way away as we sit here right now but it is amazing how quickly time flies and so I wish all the bidding nations the very best of luck in their quest.
The only Ryder Cup to date to have been played in mainland Europe – at Valderrama in 1997 – was a huge success from a European standpoint as well as from a personal one for me as I was lucky enough to hole the winning putt in my singles match with Scott Hoch. I am sure the next one will be equally successful.
Burger Me ...
One of the interesting facets of a professional golfer’s life is the diverse nature of the people you meet and play with in pro-ams. In my first blog I told you of the Spanish gentleman I played with before the Open de Andalucia who, it turned out, I had played against as an amateur for Scotland. Well, in the pro-am before the BMW International Open in Munich I met another interesting chap. Now I bet, like me, you thought that every McDonald’s restaurant was the same. Well think again. The guy I played with, his job was as an architect for McDonald’s restaurants. The only thing the company insists on being the same throughout each one is the kitchens and, obviously, there has to be the big M, or the Golden Arches as they are referred to in McDonald’s terminology, but outside that, he has free rein and to date he has designed somewhere in the region of 220 restaurants. You really do learn something every day.
For more about Monty, visit his official website at www.colinmontgomerie.com
Don't miss out on a chance to see The 2010 Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. You can apply for tickets now, and applications for the initial ticket offer will run until the end of July, so be sure to get your application in to enter the random draw.
• The initial ticket offer for The 2010 Ryder Cup opened on April 28, 2009 via the Official Ryder Cup Ticket Website on www.rydercup.com/tickets. Successful candidates will be determined through a computerised random lottery draw to take place in August 2009. Successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified of their result by email.
• Tickets range in price from £30 on the Tuesday and Wednesday Practice Days to £130 on Sunday - and Season Tickets for Two Days, Four Days and Six Days ranging from £140 to £430.
• A second tranche of tickets will be made available by the same ballot system in April 2010.
• Ryder Cup Official Hospitality is also on sale for 2010 offering guests the opportunity to purchase tables of ten in The Conwy Club Restaurant overlooking the 17th Green or exclusive private suites for 30 or 50 people overlooking the 16th Fairway and Green. Hospitality is sold as a four day package (Thursday-Sunday) but it is also available on both the Tuesday and Wednesday Practice Days in The Conwy Club. In addition Travel and Accommodation packages can be purchased exclusively from Ryder Cup Travel Services (www.rcts.co.uk).