Home > Golf > Ryder Cup 2010: Monty’s Major

Ryder Cup 2010: Monty’s Major

Today (October 4th) at the Celtic Manor in Wales’s Usk Valley, Europe regained the Ryder Cup as the competition saw action on a Monday for the first time in its 83 year history. The win will mean a lot to golf fans throughout the continent; the 12 players and their families; but to no one will it mean more than it does to Colin Montgomerie.

Montgomerie is one of the finest golfers Europe has ever produced. The man affectionately known as ‘Monty’ has won the European Order of Merit a record eight times; has 31 European Tour Victories to his name (4th on the all-time list); holds a phenomenal Ryder Cup record of 23.5 points & never having lost a singles match and has reached a high ranking of two. The one thing missing from his vast collection of achievements however is a win in a so-called ‘Major.’ He has come mighty close, finishing runner-up at the US Open on three occasions; and once at The Open & USPGA respectively. With his best form seemingly behind him at the age of 47, Monty will most probably never win one now, but today, as captain of the European Ryder Cup Team, Monty finally won his Major.

Montgomerie is a man who commits fully to whatever he is doing and the prestigious Ryder Cup captaincy was no exception, as anybody who has watched him over the last four days will know. He has dashed around the golf course from match to match offering snippets of wisdom at crucial moments; marshalled his team of five carefully chosen vice captains and remained calm when others around him were starting to look a bit flustered. At the end of the first two completed sessions, Europe trailed 6-4 and there were some who surmised that the United States were going to retain their trophy comfortably. Colin Montgomerie had other ideas and worked his inspirational magic. In interviews for TV, both Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer paid tribute to their captain’s optimistic and rousing speech, instilling them with the confidence to fight back. Whatever he said worked wonders as Europe stormed through the third session to take it 5½-½ and move in to a 9½-6½ lead going in to the singles matches.

Colin Montgomerie gives Padraig Harrington some advice during the 2010 Ryder Cup. (This image is the property of The Daily Telegraph)

Montgomery has pulled off several masterstrokes as captain, one being the selection of Luke Donald as a wildcard. Many questioned the wisdom of omitting world number seven Paul Casey, but Donald repaid Monty’s faith, winning his singles match against the $10 million man Jim Furyk at a point when the US team was threatening to overhaul the Europeans. Another wildcard pick, Edoardo Molinari, won what proved to be a crucial half point against Ricky Fowler to add to the one he won with brother Francesco against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar in Sunday’s fourballs. The tried and trusted players such as Westwood; Jiminez and Poulter (who was sensational throughout the tournament) did not let Montgomerie down either, but it is the affable Scot’s singles order selection that deserves most praise.

Despite Europe taking a three point lead in to singles, Monty refused to rest on his laurels. The US front loaded in an attempt to gather momentum, placing Steve Stricker; Stewart Cink and Jim Furyk in their opening three spots. Neither Phil Mickelson nor Tiger Woods (who today played what was described by one BBC reporter as “golf from another world” for ten holes) were chosen as Team USA’s anchor, with Corey Pavin instead opting for Hunter Mahan. Montgomerie kept an ace up his sleeve and selected Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell as his number 12.

This was a stroke of genius from the captain. McDowell proved his mettle earlier this year by winning the US Open at Pebble Beach. He held on in difficult conditions at Pebble Beach to beat Frenchman Gregory Havret by one stroke and was the only player to finish par for the tournament. Montgomerie therefore placed his faith in McDowell to anchor the team and as it transpired, this decision proved crucial.

The US came storming out of the blocks on the final day with Stricker beating Westwood and Dustin Johnson crushing Martin Kaymer. Cink halved his match with the precocious Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald saw off the in-form Jim Furyk. The teams then traded blows as Jeff Overton beat Ross Fisher and Miguel Angel Jiminez defeated Bubba Watson. However, after Woods annihilated Francesco Molinari; Mickelson beat Hanson; Zach Johnson dispatched Padraig Harrington and Edoardo Molinari could only score a half point against Ricky Fowler, McDowell suddenly needed to win to get Europe to the magic 14½ point total. The Ulsterman kept his cool as Mahan duffed a chip shot at the 17th and rolled his putt to within around five feet of the cup. After Mahan missed his putt, he conceded and Europe had regained the Ryder Cup. Monty’s faith in ‘G-Mac’ had been vindicated.

As the 17th green was overrun by jubilant players and over-zealous fans, Colin Montgomerie was nowhere to be seen. This was not an ego trip for Montgomerie, he had not done all this merely to bask in glory in front of the TV cameras, he had done it because he wanted to win for Europe; his players and of course himself. Instead of celebrating on the 17th green, the captain instead opted for a quiet moment of reflection in the clubhouse, presumably to take in what he and his team had just achieved.

As he stood on stage to give his speech, one could not help but notice what a class act Montgomerie is. He was gracious in victory, praising US captain Corey Pavin and the US team, as well as the fans; his own players; his vice captains and the green keepers at the Celtic Manor Resort, who have worked miracles over the last four days. As his speech drew to a close, Monty described it as “the greatest moment of my golfing career.”

Well done Monty, this was your long awaited Major.

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