(From left) Team Europe Captain Colin Montgomerie and his vice captains Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley. (Getty Images)
The Captain's Blog -- Number 11
European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie's latest blog looks back at a highly successful day at Wentworth where he named his three Vice Captains and looks ahead to the contest itself which is just over ten weeks away.
My Three Musketeers ...
There are several key moments in the build-up to any Ryder Cup and one of mine came this week when I announced my Vice Captains for the match at Celtic Manor. I told you in previous blogs that I was going to do it after The Open Championship and I have to say I could not have been prouder to sit down at that press conference at Wentworth alongside three of the most respected men in the game; Thomas Björn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.
The Ryder Cup is all about passion, commitment and will to win and those three guys all possess those qualities in abundance. They have the respect and admiration of everyone in golf and have all been part of a combined nine successful European Ryder Cup teams in the past. Furthermore they know the players who will be part of my team as well as anyone. Respect from the other players is vital and those three guys, in addition to myself, will have the utmost respect in the team room, in the locker room and out on the course.
I am delighted to have them by my side as we head for Wales and I know they will be of invaluable assistance to me and everyone associated with the team as we attempt to regain The Ryder Cup.
I truly believe this is the strongest team we have ever assembled for Europe both on and off the course. This is a great time for European golf. We have just had great success with Graeme McDowell in the US Open, were very close to having further success in our own Open at St Andrews, and who knows what might happen in the US PGA Championship in a few weeks time.
Off the course there are now four of us who will be making the decisions from now on, not just me. There will be consultation going on the whole time and I am delighted it will be that way.
Cheers from Chema ...
Understandably, there was a lot of speculation in the media about whether I would have José Maria Olazábal as part of my backroom team. As everyone now knows, I'm not, and I'm more than happy to explain why, just as I did in a phone call I made to José Maria myself a few days ago.
First and foremost I want to say here and now that I genuinely believe José Maria will be a Ryder Cup Captain in the future. Unfortunately, though, he is not keeping good health at the moment and, without question, getting his health back is the most important thing he should be concentrating on at the present time. Because of that, he fully admits he hasn't played on The European Tour very much over the past 18 months and I have always felt it important that the players who were to form my backroom staff play week in, week out on The European Tour and are together with the players on a regular basis.
Believe me, it was a phone call I didn't want to make but one I nevertheless felt was the right one to make in the circumstances. Everyone who knows José Maria knows the passion he exudes for The Ryder Cup and it will come as no surprise that he wished us all the best in our quest to regain the fabulous trophy. He'll be right behind us every step of the way and we all join together to wish him all the very best too.
Three is the Magic Number ...
I know I said in the past that I was going to opt for four Vice Captains but these things can change and, believe me, when I looked at the calibre of the three guys sitting next to me on that top table the other day, I don't think I could do any better than that.
Outside the singles session, there will only ever be four matches on the course at any one time and we have four of us to monitor them. Thomas will go with one match, Darren with another, Paul with another and I'll go with the fourth one. Between us we will be able to analyse exactly what is going on and I genuinely believe we the four of us together will be able to get the best out of the players. So I think three Vice Captains, plus me, is a good number.
Wonderful Welsh support.....
Aside from José Maria, the other question I was asked was about Welsh representation. I know none of my three Vice Captains are Welsh but to suggest we will have no Welsh representation at Celtic Manor is far from the truth. It is not outwith the bounds of possibility that we will have a Welshman in the team itself as Rhys Davies is still on the fringes of the qualification table, while Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards, who is Honorary Captain of The Twenty Ten Course, will be out there on a buggy alongside us. Of course there is also the small matter of having the passionate support of some 40,000 Welsh people outside the ropes every day that we shouldn't forget. So we will have plenty of Welsh representation at Celtic Manor, mark my words.
Words of advice......
It is a huge responsibility that myself, Thomas, Darren and Paul have taken on and, together with the 12 players who will ultimately form the team, we know we have an onus on us to try and regain The Ryder Cup. In these economic times, we realise that a home win is very important for us, and to The European Tour in general. I will urge any player to come and ask me for advice on any aspect of The Ryder Cup because I have learned a lot from the six Ryder Cup Captains I've played under in my career. I've spoken at length to every one; Seve Ballesteros, Bernard Gallacher, Mark James, Bernhard Langer, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam and it has been invaluable. I won't reveal now what they said or their individual points of view but all I will say is that after The Ryder Cup is finished, you will realise that I have taken a lot from every Captain that I've played under.
Up for the challenge......
Somebody pointed out to me the other day that the recent Open at St Andrews was only the second time in 50 years that no American player had finished in the top six and, because of that, was there a danger of perhaps some over-confidence surrounding the European team going into The Ryder Cup. My answer to that particular question was simple; with the collective Ryder Cup experience of the four of us who sat together at Wentworth the other day, there is absolutely no chance of any over-confidence or any complacency from a European perspective. We all know that these matches are very, very close. You only have to look back at the record win that Europe had in America in 2004.
That year, 11 of the individual ties went to the last hole and we just happened to win nine of them. If they had gone the other way, however, we wouldn't have won by a record margin, we would have lost The Ryder Cup altogether. That's how close The Ryder Cup is and we are all under no illusion whatsoever how difficult a task this will be to attempt to regain The Ryder Cup against what will be a very strong and very talented United States team. But we are more than ready for the challenge.
Thanks for reading and, until next time, I wish you all good health and good golf.
For more from Monty, visit his official site www.colinmontgomerie.com.