x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Montgomerie has a Euro vision

The European Ryder Cup captain says that continent has never before had so many of the world's top-ranked players.

Colin Montgomerie on the practice range at the Emirates Golf Club yesterday ahead of this weekend's Dubai Desert Classic.
Colin Montgomerie on the practice range at the Emirates Golf Club yesterday ahead of this weekend's Dubai Desert Classic.

DUBAI // Europe's Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie yesterday claimed the current crop of talent at his disposal is the most gifted the continent has produced since the inception of the biennial tournament in 1927. The Scotsman, speaking on the sidelines of an announcement confirming Emirates as the official airline of the 2010 Ryder Cup, said he could not be in a better position as Europe look to grapple bragging rights back from the USA at Celtic Manor, Wales, in October.

"It is, and it will be, the strongest collection of players we've ever had," he said. "We've never had so many top-ranked players in the world and they're improving: Martin Kaymer's getting better, Robert Karlsson's coming back, Paul Casey's coming back, [Padraig] Harrington's improving, [Lee] Westwood's still improving. No captain has had so much potential." Not only are Europe's leading lights developing admirably, but the continent's younger players - including Rory McIlroy, defending champion of the Dubai Desert Classic, which starts tomorrow - are showing a determination to displace the old guard and fight their way into contention.

Montgomerie, 46, said such drive, coupled with the experience of playing around the world at such an early stage of their careers, can only benefit his team. "You can call them youths, but these guys aren't rookies anymore. In my day, we were rookies because we hadn't played in America before we played the Ryder Cup," said Montgomerie, who played his first American major in 1992, a year after making his cup debut in South Carolina. "These guys have played in the world match plays; they've played in the majors, so to call them rookies is unfair now."

The 31-time European Tour title-winner did, however, deliver a warning ahead of this week's tournament at Emirates Golf Club. "I don't want to waste my picks on players who should have made it," he said. "I want to be able to pick players that I feel will help the team and benefit the team, rather than having to pick players who haven't played to their potential throughout the year." gmeenaghan@thenational.ae