Colin Montgomerie

The Captain's Blog - A year to go

Let's Make It A Date ...
It's a common topic of conversation in the pub, isn't it; "What do you think you’ll be doing in a year from now?"

Well I know precisely what I want to be doing exactly a year from now on – October 3, 2010 – namely lifting a certain gold trophy high into the air at Celtic Manor and thanking my Team for their sterling efforts in regaining The Ryder Cup.

I know it will not be an easy task. I know the Americans will be tough opponents. I know we will have to be at our best.

But I also know I will have the players on the golf course backed up by a team of people behind the scenes that will enable The European Tour to succeed and I will leave no stone unturned in my attempts to do so.

The Countdown Is On ...
Talking about the match being only a year away just goes to show, doesn’t it, how amazingly quickly time goes by?

When Wales was successful with its bid to host The Ryder Cup back in 2001 it seemed such a long time away but now, here we are, almost in the home straight.

I also guarantee this next year will fly by too, now that the qualifying process has begun and my Team are starting to gather points. I know it has only been a few weeks but it has begun and we now look forward to the whole Ryder Cup experience taking place.

It will be great to see all the players fighting for automatic qualification over the next 12 months and those that don’t make it, of course, will have to try and impress me in other ways, so it is exciting for me, exciting for The Celtic Manor Resort, and exciting for Wales.

The countdown is on. This is a massive, massive deal for Wales and I am so honoured to be able to take a Team there and to captain them in the quest to regain The Ryder Cup. We have a golden opportunity, so it is our responsibility to go down to Wales in a professional manner and win the Cup back.

Vive La France ...
I was delighted to be in France recently to take in events at The Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros. Congratulations to Paul McGinley and his Great Britain and Ireland team on their victory there and commiserations to Thomas Björn and his Continental Europe team who battled hard throughout the four days of competition but who just came up short on this occasion.

However, I think the whole thing, from a Ryder Cup perspective, was a marvellous exercise in many respects. I made a lot of notes in my room at night regarding what I had seen both on and off the course during the week, all of which will be very helpful for me both in the year ahead and in the week at Celtic Manor itself.

To The Four ...
One important thing which did strike me very quickly in France is the fact I now know I will need a minimum of four helpers on the golf course come the match itself next year.

When I was out on the buggy, I found I was not seeing as much golf as I thought I would. One man, trying to watch four or five games at the same time, is just impossible. When I was watching stuff in the studio for Sky Sports, I saw more because the coverage switched back and forwards between matches but it’s very difficult to do that when you’re out on the golf course.

So I need not just the two helpers next year. I need a minimum of four. I've already put that to the Tour and they have accepted that; I need someone with every game, at least, and then I can oversee them. Being two places at one time has never been one of my strengths – let alone being in four places at once!

Let's Wait and See ...
I have made no secret of the fact that I have huge admiration for both Paul McGinley and Thomas Björn and I would like to have both of them alongside me in Wales.

Paul took to the captaincy role in France like a fish to water, and I've always known about Thomas’ passion for The Ryder Cup and the respect he accords from all the players in his role as chairman of our Tournament Committee.

However, it is not official that they will be two of my vice captains as they are both still superb golfers and I am therefore giving them every opportunity to qualify for the team.

There's no point in announcing vice captains now only for them to go and to win two or three tournaments in a row and then I'm stuck. I don't want that embarrassment for them or for myself.

So what I'll do is I'll wait until the final opportunity where it's almost mathematically impossible for a player, whoever he may be, to make the Team and then announce them. Until that stage, I can't. It's not fair.

Let’s wait and see.

Well Done, Lads ...
I was delighted to get a close up look in France at a few players I hadn’t really seen much of before and that was the beauty of the Vivendi Trophy – they were given a great opportunity to come and compete because of the absence of other players through illness or FedEx Cup commitments.

I have to say, I was very impressed with what I saw. I know the strengths and abilities of players such as Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Alvaro Quiros but the tournament gave me the opportunity to see players such as Francesco Molinari and Chris Wood at close quarters.

They both gelled well with their respective partners and looked good in the singles arena too with Chris, of course, ending the week as the top points scorer from either side with four and half points out of five. If he makes my Team at Celtic Manor, I’d certainly take that same points haul from him again!

Under Pressure ...
The other good thing the Vivendi Trophy did was to give players a little bit of a suggestion of what the pressure of playing in a Ryder Cup will be like.

Although there is nothing that can quite compare with that, it was interesting to see players commenting on the pressures they felt in France.

I heard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, for example, say that that was the most pressure he's ever felt on the golf course over a 12 foot downhill putt. He had to two putt to win the hole and at the end of the day he managed it, but it just goes to show the merit of this event, doesn’t it?

That was exactly what we wanted from the Vivendi Trophy. I wanted to see how players handled different sorts of pressure and different sorts of situations to the ones they normally find themselves in on a golf course.

Because, believe me, that is exactly what The Ryder Cup is all about.

Although today’s date marks what will be the end of The Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in a year’s time, the celebrations for Wales go on, because next week sees us stage the official Year to Go Function at Celtic Manor itself.

Myself and Gaynor are delighted that Corey Pavin and his wife Lisa will be making the trip over along with a selection of officials from the PGA of America. As always, we will ensure they are accorded the warmest of welcomes.

It promises to be a wonderful occasion and I am sure everyone in attendance will enjoy the experience. I will let you know how it all went during my next blog.

Until then, thanks for reading, good luck and remember: I have three picks!!

For more from Monty, visit his official website at www.colinmontgomerie.com


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