Montgomerie questions Faldo approach

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The Independent Online

He could have kept his thoughts to himself, he could have shared them only with other players, he could have waited.

But Colin Montgomerie went public with his views on the Ryder Cup today - and Nick Faldo came out of it very badly.

Yards from the final green at The Belfry where once they were hugging each other as cup partners - the Quinn Insurance British Masters starts on the course tomorrow - Montgomerie smiled when the subject of Faldo's captaincy inevitably came up at a pre-tournament press conference.

And then the words started flowing from the man who after not being given a wild card was an armchair critic for the first time since 1989.

"Certain things would have been done the same and certain things I feel I would have liked to have changed," said the former cup hero, who revealed that he makes notes every two years in readiness for what is expected to be his leadership of the side at Gleneagles in 2014.

Asked then if he felt as much for the captain as for the players, Montgomerie replied: "Goodness me - oh dear.

"I feel for the players, I do, because I see them and I'm with them. I know what they have gone through and exactly how they feel coming home.

"To answer your question - I can't answer that question."

Next it was how much he felt Faldo was responsible for the defeat and whether he got the best out of the team.

"Going as favourites - proper favourites - and to lose 16 1/2-11 1/2 it's very difficult for me to say.

"I know from hearing from some of the guys and some of what went on that possibly, possibly not.

"The line-up of the singles was very important being 9-7 down. Very important. It had to be absolutely bang-on right."

Faldo gambled by putting top scorer Ian Poulter, most experienced player Lee Westwood and Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington in the last three positions.

They became irrelevant to the outcome of the match because the Americans started the session so well and had victory in the bag with four games (Graeme McDowell was involved in the other) still out on the course.

"It occurred to me that unfortunately Poulter and Westwood and Harrington are possibly our three strongest players and they might not - might, but might not - be included in the final shake-up.

"If they had been playing higher up they absolutely would have been included in the shake-up of what happened."

Montgomerie in the team meeting could have had the presence of mind to remind everyone else of the 2002 match at The Belfry when Tiger Woods was out last for the Americans and was still playing when Europe were celebrating.

"Number 12 (deciding the issue) has happened once in the whole history of the Ryder Cup since 1927.

"Once in the whole history of the Ryder Cup has number 12 ever mattered and it was (Bernhard) Langer in 1991 against Hale Irwin. That's the only time that number 12 has mattered."

Actually, that is the only time since Europe started taking on the Americans where that was the case. Everything also hung, of course, on Tony Jacklin's halved match with Jack Nicklaus in 1969.

Meanwhile, on the issue of who should captain the 2010 team, Montgomerie gave his support to Sandy Lyle, while this week's defending champion Westwood spoke up for Ian Woosnam returning and Darren Clarke thought that that was "a difficult call".

Westwood is not on the tournament committee which will start discussing the issue next week and probably decide in January, but the other two are.

Clarke, whose omission from last week's team was far more controversial than that of Montgomerie, commented: "Personally, I can't see repeat captains. We have so many qualified candidates coming up.

"I think we are past that now. I'm only one voice on the committee, but I see it as different guys being asked."

On Lyle, fellow Scot Montgomerie said: "He's the last of our five major winners of that era that has not yet captained the team and it would be nice. It would be a shame if Sandy somehow misses out.

"It seems like it would not need Einstein to work out the next three." In other words, Lyle in 2010, Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012 and himself in 2014.

Westwood, however, has described the 7/1 odds he has seen on Woosnam as "great", adding: "I would be pleased to see Woosie get the captaincy again.

"Obviously, he's got a massive advantage over everybody else that he's Welsh and an even bigger advantage that he's been a captain before and knows what to expect."

Olazabal was Faldo's assistant, but has said he wants to be back playing next time and Paul McGinley, who was also appointed as a vice-captain but then resigned, confirmed today he also hopes to return to the team.

"I want to be part of the action winning it back," said the Dubliner. "I'd dearly love to be captain one day, but I've more goals to achieve as a player and more experience to learn."