European PGA Picks Monty Too Soon

The European PGA picked Colin Montgomerie to be the Ryder Cup captain in 2010. The selection has come too early. Monty’s Ryder Cup qualifications are certainly impressive. He is tied for first in singles with six wins, third in total points and winning percentage with 65 percent. He competed in eight Cups and thirty six matches. He won the European Order of Merit eight times.

All of that should have earned him the captaincy, but it didn’t. His politicking for the job won it for him. The PGA once again shunned Sandy Lyle, who deserved consideration, but has not opening campaigned for the job.

All of the candidates had impressive resumes and any of them would be a fine captain. Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Montgomerie, and Jose Maria Olazabal all have had tremendously successful playing careers and are icons of European Tour. So, the pick should have been an easy one for the PGA but of course when you add the bureaucracy of the PGA and the personality of some of the player’s things get a wee bit sticky.

I’ll start with Sandy Lyle since he is the oldest, 51, and age seems to be a factor. It seems that Lyle has not received the respect he deserves. Lyle played on five Ryder Cup teams, two as a winner. He has won two Order of Merit titles (European Tour Money Leader). He has an Open Championship and a Masters title. He has become a respected sage of the players but gets no respect from the PGA. Can they think he is too old? That can’t be the reason. Nick Faldo captained the 20008 team and he is 51. Maybe because Faldo lost in 2008, the PGA wants to go younger. That does not make any sense either. Woosnam is only seven months younger than Lyle. Montgomerie is 45 and Olazabal is 43. None of them are twenty-somethings that have Coldplay and The Killers on their IPod.

The players of the Ryder Cup Team have to respect and understand their captain and want to play for him. This concept of the captain “being current” with the players is absurd. Faldo was essentially off the tour for five years and he spent most of his time in the booth in America and he was he was named captain. Is the PGA trying to say that there is a significant different in a person that is 45 versus 51? Let’s be serious, there is none. It’s not like the captain has to run sprints, arm wrestle or bench press 400 pounds.

Ian Woosnam has won the Order of Merit twice, a Masters and captained the winning Ryder Cup team at the K Club. He is from Wales and the Cup will be taking place there in 2010. Jose Maria Olazabal is as passionate about the Ryder Cup as any player has ever been and has two Masters titles.

There is one huge difference between Lyle and the rest. He has never campaigned for the captaincy. Montgomerie and Olazabal have, and there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If that is the case here, then Lyle is a victim of his own humility and I feel for him.

Here is my solution for the PGA; I know they are waiting for my advice. The Ryder Cup was originally started as a friendly competition of golfing professionals. Afterward both teams would have a drink or two and reflect on the competition and their sportsmanship. Let’s bring that back.

The PGA should have named Ian Woosnam captain for 2010. To be a Ryder Cup captain in your home country is extra special. He’ll be 52.

Sandy Lyle should have been named captain for 2012. He finally gets the respect he deserves as an icon of European golf. He’ll be 54.

Let Colin Montgomerie be captain in 2014 in Scotland. His campaigning will be rewarded with a Team in his homeland, where he is a national hero. Good luck with him being captain though. He is so thin skinned that he could not take the pressure of a Cup in the US. He’ll be 51.

That leaves Jose Maria Olazabal to be captain in 2016 at Hazeltine. He will be able to handle the pressure of a cup on foreign soil. He’ll be 50.

The European PGA should stop concerning themselves with the politics of naming the captain and be more concerned with reviving the original spirit of the Ryder Cup. The spirit of friendly competition and sportsmanship should be the focus of both the European PGA and the United States PGA. Bring the true spirit of the Ryder Cup back.


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