Montgomerie in a tangle over Woods

Ryder Cup captain's comments about how US wives will react to Tiger are ill-advised given his own transgressions
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Corey Pavin's planned meeting with Tiger Woods might not be the only little chat the world No 1 has with a Ryder Cup captain at the USPGA this week. He may also seek out Colin Montgomerie, if not to discuss his "mentally not with it" assessment of Woods, then perhaps a newspaper column in which the Scot questioned whether the American wives "will accept Tiger" at Celtic Manor.

Montgomerie's comments were destined to come back to haunt as soon as he himself was forced to admit putting "my marriage under considerable strain" following an affair after his wedding in 2008.

That came to light in June – ironically at Celtic Manor – and since then at least one photocopy of the article has been circulating around the professional ranges. Apparently, there has been general amazement that a captain with his own marital problems could feel so comfortable talking about how "hard" an opposing player would find the family atmosphere of the Ryder Cup.

Montgomerie penned the piece a few months before his own "transgression" was revealed, but many months after it was committed. "Turning up at Celtic Manor could be one of the hardest things Tiger ever does," he wrote. "He will worry about how the wives of the other players will react to him. Some of them will be friends with Elin and they will sympathise with her anger and pain. Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group. I'm sure it is something Corey will be giving a lot of thought to."

Later in the column Montgomerie reiterated his doubts. "I'm sure his [TV] apology will help to bridge the gap, but there is no guarantee all the wives will accept him," he wrote. "We know the Ryder Cup is not Tiger's favourite event..."

Woods would be forgiven for being annoyed, if only from a "people in glass houses" point of view. Pavin has other grounds for ire. There is a tacit understanding that captains, and indeed players, do not mention how the private life of an opponent might affect his game. It became an unwritten law after the build-up to the 1997 match, during which a certain player called C Montgomerie said the following about the popular Brad Faxon: "He is going through a divorce. Mentally, I don't think he'll be with it."

This was spookily similar to Montgomerie's analysis of Woods on Friday and it will be interesting to see how Pavin reacts when the duo give a joint press conference at Whistling Straits on Wednesday. On TV, Montgomerie wondered about the quandary which will face Pavin should Woods remain out of the automatic positions when the US qualifying concludes on Sunday. "Does Corey Pavin take a chance, hoping Tiger's form will change before the Ryder Cup?" he asked.

He went further in a subsequent press interview. "It was a very interesting comment Tiger made this week in answer to the question [whether he would accept a captain's pick]," Montgomerie said. "He said he would play if he qualified and made it quite clear that he didn't want to answer the question if he didn't.

"I think that has to be a question between Corey Pavin and Tiger Woods. It goes down to the old thing: do you pick a player who's in form who's down the world rankings or do you pick a player in the top three who's off form? It's a decision that, thank goodness, Corey Pavin has to make and not me. I don't envy him on that one."

Montgomerie did urge Woods to turn up at Celtic Manor – if selected – and said "it will be a much lesser event without him". "My gut feeling is he will be there," he said. "I can't see a fit Tiger Woods physically not playing in the Ryder Cup. I just can't envisage that happening."

A cynic might put all his comments together and reach a conclusion why Montgomerie is so keen to see the "mentally not with it" Woods in the opposing team room, where he is not "accepted" by the wives. In fairness, the 47-year-old Scot should never be judged purely on what comes out of his mouth, or indeed a ghost writer's laptop, as he has a habit of contradicting himself.

As an example he recently declared that he expects all of those players with a chance of making his team to be at the last qualifying event at Gleneagles at the end of this month. Now he admits to being prepared to make "a special case" for Justin Rose, who has stated his intention to remain in the United States and tee it up in the play-off series instead.

Then there is the last Europe captain, Nick Faldo, a long-time enemy with whom Montgomerie promised to bury the hatchet "for the good of the team" and have a sit-down to talk about the lessons of defeat. Now he admits that the face-to-face discussion did not and will not take place, Instead Montgomerie and Faldo have emailed each other.

Of course, both of these instances involve his selection and his tactics and as the captain he probably has the right to see it and say it any way he likes. The problem might exist when he starts worrying and talking about the dilemmas that Pavin, Woods and the wives may or may not have. That has not been wise. Particularly in his circumstances.

The USPGA Championship will be live in HD on Sky Sports. The Ryder Cup will be shown in 3D

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