x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Monty call for extra wild card

Colin Montgomerie, Europe's new Ryder Cup captain, wants to change the selection rules to give him at least one extra wild card choice.

DUBAI // Colin Montgomerie's first significant move as captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team is to ask his fellow tour players to change the selection rules to give him at least one extra wild card choice than his predecessors have had. Paul Azinger, who ended a run of three United States defeats by guiding his team to victory in Valhalla last September, was insistent beforehand on being able to nominate four of his 12 players when his European counterpart Nick Faldo had only two personal picks.

Montgomerie, who did not play in that match after being a leading figure on eight previous occasions, saw that as a significant advantage to the Americans and will therefore ask the European Tour players' committee for more flexibility in advance of the match at Celtic Manor, Wales next year. "I would like more options than we have now," Montgomerie said before beginning his challenge for the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday afternoon. "I will abide by the committee's decision but I think you will find that we will go for one more captain's choice than we have in the past."

Montgomerie said after being appointed captain that Henrik Stenson had been the man who proposed his name in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago after the committee looked for alternatives to Jose Maria Olazabal, who was considered a favourite to succeed Faldo. Olazabal, who has rheumatism-related health problems, dithered over whether to take the post which would probably have been awarded to him after that Abu Dhabi meeting, so in stepped Monty as the man on a mission to regain the famous trophy.

Already, players who regularly compete against him are predicting a greater team spirit within the European camp, something that Faldo failed to generate four months ago. wjohnson@thenational.ae