James Lawton: For all his many flaws, Montgomerie has earnt this final shot at a proud and apt legacy

If Monty does emerge triumphant, it will enable him to say that in at least one corner of golf he surpassed thegreatest of British golfers, Sir Nick Faldo

However we reflect on Colin Montgomerie's capacity to make life seem like a whole series of china shops, it is surely hard not to acknowledge that he has made a pretty good, if not flawless, job of tackling the psychological minefield known as the Ryder Cup captaincy.

It also seems fair to believe that only an extremely mean spirit does not hope, maybe even ache, that come Sunday night he will be able to claim for himself a great and unblemished monument, something that one day he can point to and say, "Well, you see, there were a few days when I did get everything right".

Days when he didn't go out and search for demons of his own creation; when he didn't unload a vast mother-lode of angst on the nearest available victim and, finally, didn't suggest that as far as he was concerned the great Walter Hagen might have been speaking another language when he stressed how important it was for every professional golfer to occasionally stop and smell the flowers and count up all his good fortune.

Too often, of course, Monty has given the impression that golf is not a moveable feast but a travelling horror show. One doesn't mean to be impertinent because there is so much that cannot be taken away from this turbulent, error-prone man. Eight orders of European merit speak eloquently enough of a major talent and if his private life has been difficult, and recently come under some persistently prurient attention, this hardly makes him unique, or perhaps even particularly exceptional among travellers along the fast highway of professional sport.

Certainly his failure to win the major tournament for which his ability always made him look so well equipped was pitched on an epic scale with his ultimate disappointment, a double-bogey collapse when the US Open and a glorious redemption at the age of 43 was within touching distance at Winged Foot four years ago. It would be maudlin to extend this recall of the times Montgomerie has been betrayed by the unsteadiness of his temperament, even sadistic to chart the fine line between ultimate success and soul-grinding disappointment.

Yet if Montgomerie does emerge triumphant and unscathed from Celtic Manor at the weekend it will keep intact at least one marvellous consistency in a career which, but for the winning rhythm in Europe, has so often lacked this vital quality.

It will enable him to say that in at least one corner of golf he surpassed the greatest of British golfers, Sir Nick Faldo.

While it is true Faldo remains Europe's top scorer with 25 points, against Monty's 23 , his captaincy of the European team in Louisville two years ago was not so much a validation of a great contribution to the game but an embarrassing betrayal. So far, at least, Montgomery has only confirmed the depth of his feeling, and the extent of his contribution, to the competitive creation of the St Albans corn merchant Sam Ryder.

Some have already argued with this. They say he got it wrong when he rejected Paul Casey and Justin Rose, while plucking from the depths of lost form his friend Padraig Harrington. They challenge his decision to give his team long notice of their opening assignments, a criticism which England's football coach Fabio Capello would no doubt find amusing in view of the fierce reaction to his World Cup policy of keeping his players sweating to within an hour of kick- off.

When Montgomerie declared this week that he rated the threat of the likes of Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker higher than the one presented by Tiger Woods, some were taken back, abruptly, to the last time he put the world's No 1 on his keenest mettle.

That was in 1997 at the US Masters, which the 21-year-old Woods won by a game-changing margin after being advised by Montgomerie that he had some hard lessons to learn among the 'big boys'. When Woods was later asked if it gave him special satisfaction that he outplayed Monty so profoundly when they were drawn in the third round, the neophyte genius lingered over the question for a little while before declaring, with what seemed like the cruelest joy, "Big time". Montgomerie must pray that such a crushing denouement is avoided in the wake of the 38th Ryder Cup.

He must hope that he carries away from South Wales the same sense of achievement that came in Oakland Hills Country Club, Michigan, six years ago, because we can trawl through every day of his golfing life and fail to find anything more whole, more definitive, than the diamond-hard satisfaction that accompanied his winning putt.

With Harrington, Monty was Bernhard Langer's choice to open the European challenge, a job the German's counter-part Hal Sutton had handed to America's big guns Woods and Phil Mickelson. Sutton was wearing a wide-brimmed cowboy hat when he announced that he was applying maximum firepower to the European hopes. Soon enough Montgomerie and Harrington made Sutton feel less like John Wayne than someone with an arrow in his chest shouting, "Injuns".

Monty, unquestionably, was the top Injun in Oakland Hills and it had to be the most delicious gratification for the man who had been so crudely abused in Brookline Country Club five years earlier and yet still managed to beat the late Payne Stewart on the last hole.

For some, Faldo's bout of gracelessness at Valhalla two years ago had at its centre his refusal to consider Montgomerie for a wild-card chance of winning another set of Ryder Cup battle ribbons.

This is because whatever the swing of his mood, or his form, one certainty has always attached itself to Colin Montgomerie. It is that the Ryder Cup, at least until now, has always been guaranteed to bring out the best of him. One day he may reflect that not too many golfers could wish for a superior epitaph.

Scandal of athletes' village disastrous not just for hosts – but for the Games

The competitive spirit among so many athletes heading for the Commonwealth Games should not deflect from the fact that their admirable dedication is, in effect, providing aid and succour to the authors of an appalling scandal.

Not only have the athletes of the Commonwealth been insulted by the slum-like conditions of the athletes' village, so too have the ordinary people of India, so many of whom, we know, are required to live under the weight of appalling corruption.

We are constantly being told that India is emerging as a powerful player in the world economy – but for whose benefit?

It is hard to imagine a more shocking example of indifference to the need to provide decent hospitality and respect, not just to foreign athletes but all those at home involved in the project. The Commonwealth Games officials who awarded the event to Delhi are guilty of an appalling lack of judgment and supervision.

With the Indian organisers, they have turned a sports occasion already challenged as a historic relic into not just an irrelevance but a tawdry example of what happens when staging international sport becomes a prize and not a decently embraced duty.

Tragedy of Newton highlights sport's moral stagnation

The apparent suicide of rugby league star Terry Newton is a personal tragedy that may have wider roots than the two-year ban imposed upon him after he tested positive for the use of human growth hormone. However, such a story can only reinforce our sense of the horror that so often accompanies the incentive to achieve success in sport at any price.

In all the data on drug cheating nothing remains more shocking than a poll of athlete-students at the University of California, Los Angeles, taken in the early eighties.

The question was brutally basic. How many of the young athletes would accept the risk of ill health, either physical or mental, as early as their mid-thirties in exchange for a guaranteed Olympic medal?

An overwhelming majority said they would. The demise of Terry Newton is at the very least a reminder that for all the claims of enhanced scientific preparation of today's athletes, a more basic education in the difference between right and wrong is still widely, and sometimes catastrophically, neglected.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices