Wednesday 22 November 2017

Monty eyes Ryder Cup green team

Colin Montgomerie anticipates Padraig Harrington in the Ryder Cup team. Photo: Getty Images
Colin Montgomerie anticipates Padraig Harrington in the Ryder Cup team. Photo: Getty Images

Irish golfers should play just as prominent a part in Europe's anticipated Ryder Cup success in October as they did in the team's resounding triumph at The K Club in 2006, captain Colin Montgomerie said yesterday.

The three Irish in action then, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, were "a fantastic part of that win in Ireland," Montgomerie said at a press conference at the Wales Open.

And there should be no difference this time. "Irish golf is still on the up. (Rory) McIlroy has taken it to a new level. I just look forward to captaining him, to be honest, along with whatever other Irish players make it."

He said Graham McDowell has a good chance of returning to the team he graced in 2008, while Harrington and McIlroy "are almost there. I would anticipate the Irish contingent to be a very strong contingent, as always. To have a quarter of the team being Irish in 2006 was fabulous."

McDowell hopes to improve his chance of automatic qualification starting today at Celtic Manor, where this year's Ryder Cup will be staged from October 1-3.

His fourth place in the Madrid Masters after a closing 65 on Sunday was his best finish of the year, but he remains 22nd on the overall Cup standings, from which the top nine qualify.

"I need a big summer to get on the team. I'm just outside automatic (selection) right now. I'm not too concerned yet. I'm just trying to keep doing what I'm doing," said McDowell, who sees Luke Donald, fourth in the Ryder Cup standings, as the man to beat in Wales after his second and first-place finishes in the last two weeks.

"It's great to see guys like Luke, who's going to be on the team regardless, starting to play well. The team's going to be really strong," the Portrush man said.

McGinley, battling back from a sixth operation on his left knee, rekindled his dreams of a fourth Ryder Cup place with a 66 in the first round last week, then fell away to 41st place.

"It was another step in the right direction. I'm getting there. Was it the last op? I don't know. The last one for a few years hopefully.

"My rehab has gone well. I'm doing 40 minutes in the gym every day before I play," McGinley said.

Peter Lawrie, fresh from his fourth top-10 of the year in Madrid, Shane Lowry, Gareth Maybin, Darren Clarke, Gary Murphy, Damien McGrane and Simon Thornton are also in the 156-man field. Harrington is resting after a knee operation.

Wales Open,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 10.30/3.30

Irish Independent

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