Not for the first time at the Ryder Cup Colin Montgomerie has expressed surprise at a decision by his opposite number Corey Pavin.
And the latest one – to leave Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson out of the first seven singles with his side three points behind – might well cost America the match.
Europe go into the unprecedented extra day 9 1/2-6 1/2 ahead after arguably their most dominant session ever yesterday, when they dropped just one half point in six games.
It left them needing five of the 12 singles to regain the trophy and, as happened at The Belfry in 2002, Woods could be out on the Celtic Manor course when the celebrations start.
Likewise Mickelson, who lost the world number two spot to Lee Westwood today and must be itching to do something that matters after being beaten in his first three games.
Nick Faldo was also hammered for his line-up in Louisville two years ago when the last three were man-of-the-match Ian Poulter, most experienced player Westwood and Padraig Harrington, winner of the previous two majors.
“I’m trying to be as diplomatic as possible throughout this week and I continue to be that way,” said Montgomerie last night after studying Pavin’s order and having it put to him by Press Association Sport that he would not have done the same.
“It does surprise me that match eight and match 10 contain one and two in the world.
“But at the same time, it is a very, very strong American line-up and this job has not been done yet.
“There’s another 12 matches to go tomorrow. It’s an enormous day.”
Montgomerie has taken a leaf out of Sam Torrance’s book eight years ago by going for the United States jugular straightaway.
Westwood led things off at 9.05am as he did successfully when the match began on Friday. And behind him come the other three members of the team currently in the world’s top 10 – Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer.
It was with Donald that Westwood yesterday sent Woods to the heaviest match play defeat of his life, a 6&5 hammering with Steve Stricker.
That was the two Americans’ first loss in seven games together, but Donald now has a 6-0 record in Ryder Cup foursomes and Westwood has won six of seven games against Woods in the event.
“When Woods loses 6&5 that’s a serious defeat for the Americans,” added Montgomerie. “That helped us all through.”
He was adamant that there would be no complacency and he, Westwood, Harrington, Miguel Angel Jimenez and vice-captains Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal were all in Boston in 1999 when Europe lost from 10-6 in front.
Olazabal is Montgomerie’s likely successor and he was added to the backroom team only on Saturday.
“Jose Maria is here as an ambassador for Nespresso Coffee – and we felt that was a misuse of talent, expertise and experience,” he joked.
“So we drafted him in. We felt we were one short on the course when we had to play six matches in that session.”
Woods has lost only one Ryder Cup singles. That was to Costantino Rocca on his debut at Valderrama in 1997 – and he was playing another Italian in Francesco Molinari today.
Molinari put the icing on the cake of yesterday’s performance – “one of the greatest days for European golf that we have had,” said Montgomerie – with a last-hole birdie to earn a half with his brother Edoardo Molinari against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar.
It meant all 12 of the home team had contributed something to the points total, although that is only part of it.
Montgomerie paid tribute to what Harrington, his most controversial wild card pick, had done off the course as well as on it.
“Padraig was under pressure. He lost his first match and you [the media] had given him a hard time,” he said.
“There’s been method in why I selected him for this team. He spoke brilliantly last night in the team room.”