Monty: Let’s keep it sporting

Colin Montgomerie wants a sporting Ryder Cup next year and will not resort to some of the questionable US tactics of the past.

Colin Montgomerie is looking for a sporting Ryder Cup next year and will not resort to some of the questionable tactics employed by the Americans in previous years.

The seasoned Scott, one of the most successful Ryder Cup players in history, made that clear yesterday when he told reporters that he was hoping next year’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor’s new Twenty Ten Course would be remembered for its good sportsmanship rather than for divisive conflict.

Montgomerie was speaking at a press conference in Perthshire to promote the tenth anniversary of the Johnnie Walker Championship at the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles in August.

As much as he wants to win the Ryder Cup – and he will tell you he wants it as much as anything he has ever wanted – Monty, will not, for instance, follow the example of the USA’s winning captain last year, Paul Azinger, who called on the local American galleries to cheer loudly when ever the Europeans missed a putt.

Nor will he stir up European resentment against the US team by highlighting some of the ‘ugly American’ tactics of the past; tactics like those employed at controversial Kiawah Island in 1991 when Corey Pavin wore a camouflage cap engraved with the words ‘Desert Storm’ with the express purpose of stirring up the crowd.

Yes it is the same Corey Paven who is set to captain the American team in the defence of the Ryder Cup in Scotland next year, but rather than hostility, Monty has assured him that he and his men can look forward to a sporting and friendly reception at Turnberry.

When Monty was asked whether Pavin’s antics at Kiwah Island would come back to haunt him when the two play in the Celtic Manor Wales Open this week, Monty, who has asked not to be paired with Pavin in the first two rounds, said: “There will be no antagonism shown towards Corey at all.

“Those days are gone. The Ryder Cup is a very different competition to what it once was. In a positive sense, 9/11 changed the world and there will be no antagonism towards any American visitor to Wales next year. They’ll all be made welcome and we’ll have a great tournament.

“Corey is already in Wales. To be honest with you, I’ve not really met him socially before and the times that we have met up has been at the major championships both in the States and the Open here.

“I also played him three times in the Ryder Cup matches.

“We’re having a dinner on Wednesday with our wives and representatives from the European Tour and the PGA of America.”

Montgomerie never hesitated to praise Paul Azinger’s captaincy when the US beat Europe in Louisville last autumn, but the Scot doesn’t’ agree with everything Azinger did.
“There’s no question Paul was fantastic,” he said. “He changed the system, the rules, everything. He got the Americans playing like the Europeans for the first time in an age. Good on him. Now it’s my job to redress that and get the Europeans playing like the Europeans again.”

But to urge the locals to cheer missed American putts is something he won’t be doing.

“Definitely not,” he insisted.

“For me the match has changed over the years. Of course you will hear different cheers in a home event. But that’s home advantage. It’s the only thing I will be looking for.”

Azinger also used local course knowledge in building his victory in Louisville – he even had the course set-up to suit the Americans – and Monty intends not only to borrow this idea, but to take it to a new level.

He has asked all of the Ryder Cup contenders who don’t play at the Twenty Ten Course this week, to make sure they do next year.

“I can’t insist on any one doing any thing,” he explained. “They are individuals, all self-employed. I can’t tell, but I can ask. But I would like to think if I ask people to play in the Wales Open who don’t take part this year then it will be in their own best interests to play next time.

“I’ve got three picks and if they do well in the Wales Open, then there’s more of an opportunity for them. If you win on the course that’s hosting the tournament, then it’s a big plus for any captain. The same will apply, I’m sure, at Gleneagles in 2014.”

On the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles, the greens of which were severely criticised last year by players of the c calibre of Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, Monty, chairman of the championship committee, discl9osed that £2 million was being spent on improvements and alterations.

“This year we have a new hole and the par is reduced to 72, which is the right way to go. The 12th has been changed to a challenging par-4 from a reachable par-5.

For the sake of the Ryder Cup (in 2014), it had to be changed because you couldn’t build stands or get 10,000 people round the back of the old 12th green.

“We’ve had challenges here over the years. The level of investment in these times is nothing short of remarkable. You’ll see a dramatic difference here in the quality of everything, the greens included.”