Padraig Harrington has expressed his surprise that Colin Montgomerie appears ready to sacrifice playing in the next Ryder Cup to be captain.
“We need to put our best foot forward every time and I believe he’s the man for the job, but I’m a bit surprised he’s prepared to give up his chance of making the team,” said the Open and US PGA champion in Abu Dhabi.
Officially the successor to Nick Faldo will not be named until Wednesday week, but the tournament committee met on Tuesday and Montgomerie was suddenly in the picture after previously stating his desire to play again at Celtic Manor and then lead the side at Gleneagles in 2014.
He would be 51 then, however, and there now seems to be a move towards younger men than that in charge.
Nick Faldo was 50 when he did the job last September while Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam, both of whom expressed an interest in 2010, would be 52.
As for Jose Maria Olazabal, Faldo’s vice-captain and viewed as the favourite for Celtic Manor, he is three years younger than Montgomerie at 42 and looks odds-on for Chicago in three years’ time.
But with the Spaniard’s rheumatism problem continuing – he is now out of next week’s Qatar Masters because of it – there seems a better chance of Montgomerie making the next side than him and that has to be considered as well.
The slashing of Montgomerie’s odds following the meeting hinted at a leak and European Tour chiefs have promised an investigation into that.
Harrington, who is not on the committee, stated: “It’s amazing how these things get out. There’s always someone who figures it out – way of the world, I suppose.”
He expressed disappointment for Lyle if he indeed does miss out – Woosnam did the job in Ireland three years ago – but added: “Anybody on Tour younger than me does not really know Sandy, whereas they will be very familiar with Monty.”