Montgomerie riled by 'bidding war'

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie will always be remembered for the toys he threw out of the pram, not the hats he threw into the ring, so maybe it was no surprise to find him denouncing what he sees as the unseemly "bidding war" to become Europe's next Ryder Cup captain.

The successor to Sam Torrance is due to be announced at the end of July and three candidates have emerged to lead next year's assault on Oakland Hills - Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle. But Montgomerie believes that the very public clamour to be captain is getting out of hand.

"I see that Nick Faldo has put his name forward for 2006 but we tend to be getting into a bidding war," Montgomerie, the overwhelming favourite to win the Wales Open here, said yesterday. "There seem to be three people up for the next one. Fine, but two are going to lose. I would hate for Sandy, Bernhard or Ian to feel like they've lost out. Then what happens? Do they bid again and give themselves the opportunity to lose again?"

Faldo has pressed for the adoption of an official selection policy with greater transparency, but Montgomerie favours the behind-closed-doors method that has, up until now, been employed. "It seems to be played out too publicly now, and I don't think that's right. I was more comfortable with the way it was."

Not that Montgomerie is averse to being mentioned as a future candidate; indeed, he even went so far as to hint that 2006 could be his year. "I've said before that if I qualified there in ninth or 10th, I'd be better off as captain rather than playing just once or twice," he said, before pulling back from declaring he was to run. "Of course, I'd be honoured to do it anywhere and any time."

When and where that will be depends largely on how long Montgomerie, who turns 40 next month, can stay in the upper reaches of the Order of Merit. He is certainly confident of a win this week and adding the Welsh to his English, Irish and Scottish opens. When you see the field lining up against him here, it is not difficult to see why.

It seems that kudos, and not euros, attracts the legions of millionaire professionals nowadays as, although the prize fund has been raised to £1.5m and the event been switched to a more attractive date, the leading players have stayed away in droves from the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, preferring to keep their powder dry for next week's British Masters and the following week's US Open. Even the reigning champion, Paul Lawrie, will not play after pulling out with a sore neck. Montgomerie expressed surprise at that news - before his face lit up. "This is getting better all the time. At this rate I'll be the only one here," he said.

But there will a strong Welsh challenge awaiting him, as reflected by the bookmakers who have five 'home' players in the top 10 of the betting. Phillip Price, Bradley Dredge, David Park, Jamie Donaldson, and even Woosnam, may never have a better chance to win in their own backyard.