Wales was expecting Ian Woosnam to fly in with the Ryder Cup yesterday purely as an ambassador for the 2010 match at Celtic Manor. Instead, he arrived with a rather more important role in mind.
In announcing that he would like to be the European captain again when the biennial tear-up at last comes to his home country, Woosnam surprised everyone, including the attendant Ryder Cup officials who, like everyone else, had taken him at his promise.
"If they ask me to do it again, I know what my answer will be," Woosnam had said. "And it won't be yes."
Those words were uttered in the bitter build-up to the K Club, however, and the three glorious days of competition - when Europe humbled America 18 1/ 2-9 1/ 2 - have obviously effected a Steve Redgrave-like reconsideration of the victorious captain's future.
"I did say it would be once and only once, but a lot can happen in four years and I'm starting to think it may be right for me again - especially as it's here in Wales," Woosnam said at a press conference at Cardiff Airport to begin the countdown to 2010.
Woosnam's apparent declaration of his candidature has certainly added excitement to a leadership race that had hitherto had a distinctly one-horse feel to it. Such are the ties between Sir Terry Matthews, Celtic Manor's billionaire owner, and Colin Montgomerie - both personally and financially - the Scot has been an overwhelming favourite to succeed Nick Faldo, who will oversee Europe's attempt to win four in a row in Kentucky in 2008.
With Woosnam the only Welshman to have won a major and with the likelihood of the Principality not being represented on the team - unlike Ireland - his re-election will undoubtedly prove tempting as the powers-that-be try to intensify local support. Furthermore, he was tremendously popular in the team-room and it is understood that he has already been urged to stand again by a few members of his record-equalling side.
There is nothing in the rule-book to stop it and, indeed, Woosnam believes a previous reign would have many advantages. "I would have the experience of having gone through it once already and that would definitely stand me in good stead," he said.
"I'd know what to expect; the run-up and everything, which was hell for me, what with all the criticism I came in for. Looking back, I don't feel I did much wrong. In fact, I think I did everything right. I'd certainly do it the same way and, I'd hope, get the same result."Reuse content