EUROPEAN Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie claims he has written down his “dream team” to take on the Americans at Celtic Manor in October 2010 and locked it away in a drawer in his home.
Naturally enough, he’s not telling anyone the names on the list. Given that Monty has been allowed three wild card picks of his own as against two heretofore.
The qualifying for Celtic Manor begins this week with the €2 million Omega Swiss Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre, a course that has developed into a worthy test, having been of the pitch and putt variety in earlier years.
If Montgomerie’s “dirty dozen” falls in line with the current Ryder Cup points standings, it is reasonable to assume it contains people like Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Pádraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Robert Karlsson, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Ross Fisher, Luke Donald and Soren Kjeldsen.
It’s a list that makes for impressive reading and you suspect most would fancy going into battle with such a powerful squad. However, the near certainty is that between now and when the team is decided at the end of August 2010, some will have fallen by the wayside and others will have forced themselves into the reckoning.
Here in Ireland, we have become accustomed to having at least two players in the side and very often one more. Few need reminding of the halcyon days of Harrington, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley while two years ago at Valhalla, Pádraig was joined in the side by Graeme McDowell.
McDowell was one of the successes of that side and makes no secret of his burning desire to be involved again at Celtic Manor. Graeme is in the field at Crans this week, hoping to accumulate some early points and joining him in the Alps are McIlroy, Clarke, McGinley, Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey, Gary Murphy and Gareth Maybin.
For McIlroy, this is a significant tournament. Last year youthful impetuosity cost him a first professional win when he missed a 21-inch putt at the second hole in a play-off against the Frenchman Jean-Francois Lucquin.
For others like McGrane, 52nd with 460,058 points, and Maybin, 56th on 448,658, it’s a chance to strengthen their positions within the top 60 on the order of merit who qualify for the Race to Dubai in November.
Then there’s Gary Murphy, the Kilkenny man who still needs the best part of €100,000 in prize money to get among the top 115 who retain their tour card at the end of the season. He is in 150th place with €139,579.
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