Colin Montgomerie has admitted to more than a tinge of sadness as he counts down to a Ryder Cup for which he has already written a loser’s speech – just in case.
But it was not the thought of the Americans returning home with the trophy that had Montgomerie staring into space on an empty first tee at Celtic Manor.
It was the realisation that, after eight matches as a player and now another as Europe’s captain, this might well be his last involvement in an event which has brought him more happiness than any other.
And that goes beyond the shots he has hit and the games he has won.
Six years ago Bernhard Langer handed Montgomerie a wild card just after the collapse of his first marriage and that vote of confidence, plus the warmth he felt from players and their wives in Detroit, helped both reignite his career and overcome the personal troubles.
“I stood on that first tee and had a thought to myself about would I ever do this again,” the 47-year-old Scot told BBC Radio Five Live.
“I do hope it’s given me incentive to do that – it’s been almost half my life that I’ve been involved in this competition – but I think possibly those days are behind me.
“I’d like to think not and I would love to play again, but you’ve got to be realistic.
“I will be trying for 2012, but the competition now has got so good. There are 12 much better players that can do a job for Europe more than I can.
“It’s getting more and more difficult and there’s never been a European captain who’s got back into the team.
“I’ve got to get my game back in shape. It’s taken a back seat the last two years. I’ve had one eye on the players and one on myself and I need both on myself.”
The former world number two, who admits he will be drinking “in moderation” each night to help him sleep, now ranks 422nd and has not had even a top-10 finish for 27 months.
As for the loser’s speech – “I hate to use that term,” he stated - Montgomerie just wants to be seen as leaving no stone unturned in his plans.
“I’ve had to prepare a runner-up speech, or the non-winning speech. If the result doesn’t go our way I think it’s very important to prepare,” he added.
Two years ago Nick Faldo had people cringing with some of the things he said in a seemingly off-the-cuff manner at both the opening and closing ceremonies.
“Losing with dignity is the only way to do it,” added Montgomerie. “But hopefully nobody will ever hear that speech.
“The winning speech starts off with how proud I am of my team and the losing speech starts off with how proud I am of my team.
“Sometimes in these Ryder Cups it’s the toss of a coin and I really do feel it will fall in our favour, but at the same time I am very proud of the 12 guys that are giving their all here this week for the European cause.
“To win this Ryder Cup in these economic times is very important for European golf from a marketing sense and a media sense and from a playing sense.
“I am convinced that if they play to their potential they should win and it’s my job to get them to do that.
“I don’t know if I can do it, but I’ve been learning from the six captains I played under, I’ve got four great vice-captains (Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia) and the team is motivated like never before.
“Having lost the Ryder Cup in 2008 it’s our job now to win it back and it’s 17 of us that are going to.”
Asked about the possibility of staying on for Chicago in 2012 if successful, Montgomerie stated: “I think one’s enough, it’s taken two years out of my life. But at the same time if this goes well we’ll see.”
Interestingly, he put Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker rather than Tiger Woods at the top of the list of whom he would most like on his side.
“Tiger has not been himself on or off the course and it’s just a matter of seeing what he does,” Montgomerie added.
“What I would say is that I’m delighted to host Tiger here in Wales. I think it’s great that he’s playing, it’s the first time he’s played as professional in Wales.
“The first name that my players look for on the drawsheet is Tiger Woods and we look forward to seeing how he gets on.”