COLIN Montgomerie made it clear he’d relish the opportunity to captain the European Ryder Cup team on his doorstep at Gleneagles in 2014, writes Gordon
And in the short-term the Dunning-based star admits galleries are in for a treat this month, with a galaxy of European Tour stars making for Perthshire and the eagerly awaited Johnnie Walker Championship from August 23-26.
It marks the last chance for the leading pros to secure their passports to this year’s Ryder Cup being staged at Medinah near Chicago, with Monty’s successor as Euro captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, naming his team less than 24 hours after the traditional prizegiving on the 18th green at the re-shaped PGA Centenary Course.
During a fleeting visit sandwiched between a family break and golf commitments, the Johnnie Walker event chairman and winning Celtic Manor team captain stressed: “If the European Tour want me to be their captain I will be. But it will be a players’ committee decision, comprising about 15 players. I was on the last one so I know how it works.
“They decide who’s to be captain. This one was as easy as it could possibly be.
“For 2014 it becomes more of an issue because there are a number of potential candidates like Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley. They spring to mind straight away.
“Then there’s me. If we go back to the days of Tony Jacklin and Bernard Gallacher then yes, there’s an opportunity to do it again. I know for a fact that Ian Woosnam’s name was mentioned for Wales after his good captaincy at the K Club.
“There is a possibility it will happen. I won’t put my name forward but if somebody else does I’ll leave the room again as I did the last time. My job is to help the European cause in any way and if that was accepting the captaincy than I would do it.”
Montgomerie confirmed that the looming Ryder Cup will lure one of the most prestigious fields ever to tee-up at Gleneagles.
He said: “The Johnnie Walker Championship is a special event every two years because it’s the last before Ryder Cup selection. I’m excited to see what happens. Jose Maria has got the difficult decision to be made that I had two years ago.
“I’m glad that his picks will be announced on a Monday morning. Things will be happening in America and it gives a captain more time. Jose Maria can wait and see what happens in the event in America and here, which is much better.
“Because of the economic situation unfortunately we’ve lost the Czech Open from the European Tour. So after The Open it’s been a quiet time for our members who aren’t in the top 50 and haven’t made the WGC or the USPGA.
“It’s been a compulsory three week gap for many of our pros, so the entry list for the Johnnie Walker will be as good as any.
“Every qualified member is playing here, including all those who have a chance of making the Ryder Cup team. That includes the like of Alvaro Quiros, who is on the bubble. We saw last time with Eduardo Molinari that if you do win it gives you a golden opportunity to make the team.
It will be most of the field’s first look at the changes carried out by Scott Fenwick and his team over the winter under the auspices of the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
Monty has sampled the new-look course and has given it the thumbs-up, for the Johnnie Walker and as a Ryder Cup track.
“The golf course has changed dramatically over the last year and for the better. I’ve played a couple of times on the odd half day I’ve had off and I’ve been very impressed with what Gleneagles have done.
“They closed the course for six months over the winter to make the improvements and they’re very, very good.
“This course will stand up to the Ryder Cup. We’ve got the space and the infrastructure. Gleneagles as a resort will come out on top.
“The golf course will be in superb condition and everyone will enjoy playing it. hole by hole it stands up very well next to previous venues like the K Club, the Belfry and Celtic Manor. It’s certainly more dramatic.”