x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Monty not too worried about Wales defectors

The Ryder Cup wanted all his likely team members to play at the venue to get used to the Celtic Manor conditions but some opted to play the Memorial event in US.

Colin Montgomerie is philosophical about his selection problems.
Colin Montgomerie is philosophical about his selection problems.

Colin Montgomerie is resigned to having potential Ryder Cup players decline his request to play in next month's Wales Open - but insists the strong field for the BMW PGA Championship will make amends. European captain Montgomerie wanted all potential members of his team to play at Celtic Manor from June 3-6 in preparation for the Ryder Cup at the same venue in October.

A clash of dates with Jack Nicklaus's prestigious Memorial Tournament on the US Tour means Montgomerie will not get his wish, with the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy all set to be at Muirfield Village instead. However, Montgomerie is happy that those players, along with defending champion Paul Casey, Graeme McDowell and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, will compete at a revamped Wentworth later this month.

"I've asked everybody to play in Wales but I'm not sure about the entry list as such," Montgomerie said ahead of the Italian Open, which is due to start today, although heavy rain could force a delay. "Graeme McDowell is playing and Luke Donald has changed his schedule to play. "Of course it's opposite the Memorial tournament which is unfortunate, one of their biggest events. But as long as the ones that aren't competing in Wales compete well in the Memorial, I'll let them off.

"I can only ask, I can't tell anybody. We have a much stronger field this year than we've ever had in Wales and I look forward as captain to hosting them down there and seeing how they progress. "It's in their own interests to play there. If you win on the Ryder Cup course four months before the Ryder Cup it can do you no harm. Montgomerie can also take comfort from the excellent form displayed by his likely team members this year, with McIlroy completing his first win on US soil on Sunday with stunning closing rounds of 66 and 62 at the Quail Hollow Championship.

Poulter also beat Casey in the Accenture World Match Play final in February - Sergio Garcia also reached the semi-finals - and Westwood was runner-up to Phil Mickelson in the US Masters at Augusta. "To lead by one going into the final round of the Masters and shoot under par is a super effort and I told Lee that he was just beaten on the day by a better golfer unfortunately," Montgomerie added. "And then to follow that with Rory's performance. To start the day four behind and win by four was incredible, shooting 62 round a course of that quality.

"I can't tell my players where to play. If they want to play in America, fine, as long as they do well when they're over there. It was a super performance by Rory and he can only go from strength to strength." Montgomerie will play the first two rounds in Turin alongside another young star, Italy's Matteo Manassero, who is making his professional debut after a stellar amateur career. Manassero was just 16 when he became the youngest ever winner of the British Amateur Championship in 2009, and went on to finish 13th in the Open at Turnberry in the same year. * PA