It is less than a month since Europe crushed the USA 18.5-9.5 in the 36th Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland, but Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, a key member of the European team for fifteen years, yesterday predicted that Europe’s next captain would be subjected to an unprecendented amount of pressure in Kentucky in 2008.
That man will be England’s Nick Faldo – Europe’s most successful Ryder Cup player of all time – after it was confirmed earlier in the year that he would lead the European team at Valhalla. Montgomerie, who credits Faldo for helping him through his early Ryder Cups, is predicting that Faldo will face more expectation and pressure than any of his predecessors due to Europe completing a hat-trick of wins in the event – the last two by record margins.
“For Nick, it’s almost a shame that Europe have been so successful in recent years,” said the 43 year-old Scot.
“We’ve had five victories in the last six events so where does Nick go from here? He has to continue the run as it will be expected and in sport when you’re expected to do anything it’s far tougher to achieve. He’s got a very hard job ahead of him, while the American captain will having nothing to lose – in fact he’s expected to be defeated.”
Montogomerie went on to praise Faldo’s leadership qualities and his suitability for the job, while he also dismissed fears that the Ryder Cup could eventually lose its status as one of sport’s great events due to European dominance.
“Nick will be a very good captain. He helped me a lot in 1993 and 1995 when I played with him and he loves the Ryder Cup,” Montgomerie said.
“He will do things his way and is very decisive. One of the main attributes that a captain needs is the respect of the players and Nick is the greatest British golfer ever so that won’t be a problem.”
“To even consider that the Ryder Cup might be losing its appeal because of our recent success is amazing. There has been a massive change – in the 1950s and 1960s we couldn’t win at all but things got closer in the 1970s. The 1980s brought the beginning of our success and we have kicked on from there. We have better players than the Americans at the moment, despite them having the top three players in the world, but that can change quickly.”
“I don’t agree with the suggestion that the Americans should be able to choose players from other countries. The population is very similar to Europe but they have five times as many golfers as we do. But all the talk about the Ryder Cup being boycotted in two years doesn’t worry me – it’s far too important to the American tour and to us.”