After reading Harry Potter to a class of schoolchildren, Colin Montgomerie yesterday read the riot act to any American-based European professionals who are considering skipping the Ryder Cup's final qualifying event. If they dare to, they should not expect a wildcard.
Indeed, when Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and a few others get to hear their captain's orders they may well feel they are being treated like schoolchildren. Montgomerie is clearly disappointed they have not heeded his request to play in the Wales Open – which begins here today – and will be furious if they show the same disregard for the Johnnie Walker Championship in August.
"I want to see them showing support for European golf and the European Tour and I will be very, very surprised if they are not there," said the Scot. "To be there would make a whole lot of sense to a whole lot of people. I will have around eight candidates for three spots. I shouldn't have to ask those eight to play at Gleneagles. They will be there."
The Scot is well known for sparking controversy but only last week vowed to steer clear of upsetting any of his prospective players. He did not last long. Two years ago Ian Poulter and Casey famously stayed away from Gleneagles when they were outside of the automatic places; the former when he still had a chance of winning his place by right. Nick Faldo picked them as his two wildcards anyway. "I can't speak for previous campaigns," said Montgomerie, who will not have to worry about Poulter's appearance this time around as he has all but qualified already. "All I can is I will be very disappointed if those eight particular candidates do no participate at Gleneagles."
The trouble is that the Perthshire tournament – which Montgomerie, himself, promotes – is up against The Barclays in New Jersey. That is no normal PGA Tour event. It happens to be the start of the FedEx Cup play-offs, a dollar-fest with a £10m first prize for which the pros also spend all year trying to qualify. Monty seems to be giving those who have not qualified for the Ryder Cup on merit a straight choice: the greenback or the green valley?
Later on Five Live, Montgomerie decided to backtrack slightly and invoke what will be known as "the Sergio clause". Garcia is currently well out of automatic places and looking in need of a captain's pick. "He's a different case," said Montgomerie. "I, you, the listeners can't envisage a Ryder Cup without Sergio. I will be asking him to participate at Gleneagles to make the effort that's required to be on the team. "
Deep down, however, Montgomerie knows there is little chance of the Spaniard playing in Scotland. Due to tax reasons Garcia limits his appearances in Britain.
But there is seemingly no "Casey clause" or "Harrington clause" and should any of the big names fail to pin down a place then August will become very interesting indeed. Montgomerie always has displaying a penchant for weaving the rope with which to hang himself and this may be no different. He persuaded the tour committee to grant him another wildcard to diminish the threat of any of his heavyweights missing out. After yesterday, how will he act if any of the decide to snub him and his beloved Cup?
As it is, he has tried his damnedest to promote the tournament which was supposed to act as the dress rehearsal on the Twenty Ten course. He travelled to a local school for his "Philosopher's Stone" recital on Tuesday and played the charm offensive to both the public and the pros he begged to appear. In fairness, his efforts have not been without reward. The top three in the standings – Lee Westwood, Poulter and McIlroy – are not in attendance, but the next six have travelled to Gwent. They include last week's winner Donald, who he thanked for changing his schedule to play for the last three weeks in European, as well as Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell.Reuse content