Colin Montgomerie today claimed he had “not played around” with the Celtic Manor course to give his European team an advantage in this weekend’s Ryder Cup.
As the home captain, Montgomerie was entitled to set up the course however he saw fit to suit the strengths of his players or negate those of their American opponents.
But the 47-year-old Scot instead insisted he had set the course up to allow the best team to win as Europe attempt to regain the trophy lost two years ago at Valhalla.
“On this occasion, I haven’t played around with the golf course at all,” Montgomerie said. “This golf course is set up in a very, very fair manner to allow the best team to win.
“I don’t think it was right to set the course up in any other way than to what it’s been designed for. It’s a great, great golf course and it’s in super condition.”
Asked if the course was set up as for a standard European Tour event, Montgomerie added:
“Hence to our advantage, if it is a European Tour set-up. I was hardly going to set up to a US Tour set-up.
“It is a very fair test of golf and something that our European Tour players will be used to in the pace of greens. The rough is graded very fairly. A good shot will be rewarded and a bad shot will be penalised and that I think is the game of golf and that is what it should be.
“We are due for some breeze over Friday, Saturday, Sunday I see, average of about 10 to 15 miles an hour, which I think the course set-up will favour. I think it’s not too tough, and yet it’s tough enough.
“I think sometimes you can get yourself in a muddle by thinking that this is going to favour one team, and then the wind direction changes or something happens and of course it favours the other.
“I feel the course is very fair. I’m very happy with the set-up.”
In April this year it was revealed that £500,000 (€580,000) had been spent on alterations to the course – which only opened in 2008 – with many of the bunkers deepened, the rough made consistently thicker than it was for the Wales Open and the greens firmer and less receptive to spin.
Speaking at the time, Jim McKenzie, Celtic Manor’s director of golf courses, said: “All along Colin has insisted that he was not interested in gaining a home advantage.
“If Europe do regain the Ryder Cup he wants it to be because they have played the better golf and not because the course has been tricked up.”
Asked if he was surprised by Montgomerie’s decision, US captain Corey Pavin said: “I think what he was saying is you set it up to European Tour standards, and that’s the advantage that he’s describing.
“I think Colin needs to do what he thinks is best for the European team to have the best chance to win. That’s his job as captain. I think that’s what he feels he’s done, and setting up the golf course fairly, in the way the European Tour sets it up, it is what he thinks best.
“I’m glad it’s set up fairly because I think that’s the way the matches are meant to be played, in fairness and in great sportsmanship, and I think that’s what Colin is striving to do here.”