Tuesday 20 February 2018

Monty ruffles McGinley by throwing hat in Ryder ring

Europe' s Captain Colin Montgomerie. Photo: PA
Europe' s Captain Colin Montgomerie. Photo: PA
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

DURBAN delight even before he hits a ball for Padraig Harrington, but Paul McGinley's tension levels will have risen somewhat following Colin Montgomerie's 'come and get me' message for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy.

Montgomerie, winning skipper at Celtic Manor in 2010, teased McGinley and the other candidates by saying he is up for a second go at the job.

The Scot was speaking in advance of today's opening round of the €2m elite-field Volvo Golf Champions tournament at Durban Country Club, where 33 top players get the new European Tour campaign under way.

Montgomerie has certainly chosen his moment to throw his hat in the ring – and put the cat among the pigeons – as the tournament committee will select the captain for Gleneagles on Tuesday.

"I've always said that we need the best man for the job, whoever that is," said Monty. "And if we're going for the best man for the job, then that doesn't say you shouldn't do it again.

"I thought it was between Darren (Clarke) and Paul (McGinley) until Darren said something, then my name was mentioned. I've never canvassed, as I didn't last time. I've not spoken to anybody about this. But I've always felt that if I was asked I would do it, and that's still the case."

The reality is that the 15-man committee is not likely to give Montgomerie a second shot at the captaincy.

Despite Clarke's status as a Major winner, McGinley's credentials as a two-time winning Vivendi Trophy skipper are likely to get him past the post.

Committee chairman Thomas Bjorn says Europe's decision should not be influenced by the USA's choice.

"I don't want us to react to Tom Watson being their captain. I want us to appoint who we think is the right man for the job," said Bjorn.

Meanwhile, Harrington is relishing the chance to open his season in a quality event which guarantees every participant four rounds.

"I really do like starting a tournament where there's no cut," he said.

"Sometimes I've avoided coming here in the past because it's the South African players' summer and they are all ready to play and you're a little bit rusty.

"You shoot a couple of 72s, don't play too badly but still miss the cut. So you spend another weekend on the range, which is not really helping things, because you need a card in your hand.

"Whereas this week, if I play well I have a chance of winning – and even if things don't go well for me on Thursday and Friday, I still have Saturday and Sunday to find form.

"If you shoot 75-75-75-65, I guarantee you're feeling pretty good about your game. Whereas if you shoot 72-72 and miss the cut in a normal event, you're feeling miserable.

"Hopefully I can get off on the right foot and set myself up nicely for a great season ahead."

In addition to the first two winners of the 2013 season, every winner from the 2012 European Tour International Schedule, past champions of the Volvo Golf Champions and players with 10 or more European Tour victories were eligible to compete.

In addition to Clarke and Harrington, Ireland is represented by Michael Hoey and Shane Lowry. Hoey qualified by virtue of his triumph in the Trophee Hassan II last March, while Lowry gained his first win as a pro in the Portugal Masters.

Branden Grace, four times a winner on Tour last year, defends the title he won last year in a play-off against Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

First prize is €350,000 and the player who finishes last will receive €24,800.

Volvo Golf Champions, Durban: Top Tee Times

(Irish time in brackets)

10.30 (8.30) Michael Hoey; Retief Goosen

11.0 (9.0) Shane Lowry; Richie Ramsay

12.00 (10.0) Henrik Stenson; Darren Clarke

12.20 (10.20) Scott Jamieson; Padraig Harrington

12.50 (10.50) Ernie Els; Nicolas Colsaerts

Volvo Golf Champions

Live, Sky Sports 2/3, 11.0/7.0

Irish Independent

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