Looking at the current odds, the race to be the next European Ryder Cup captain now involves only two horses: Jose Maria Olazabal had been hot favourite to take the role at Celtic Manor but Colin Montgomerie entered the fray and his name is being touted by many as the one that’ll be announced by the tournament committee in Dubai next week.

I’m a big Monty fan. In fact, I still have a 2007 Colin Montgomerie calendar hanging in the corner of my office. I think, at a time when an increasing percentage of pro golfers seem to have been produced by a mould somewhere deep in the TaylorMade factory, Monty is important for the game. He has a personality and he speaks his mind. The golfing press love him because he’s one of the few people in golf who might say something controversial or challenging. He will definitely make a good Ryder Cup captain.
Having said this, I think Olazabal should get the captaincy this time round. He’s put in the groundwork and deserves the chance. He was vice-captain to Faldo at Valhalla – that can’t have been a pleasant job. Watching on, helpless to intervene, as Nick hijacked the opening ceremony to try and sort out his children’s careers then went on to attempt to turn the whole event into the “Faldo show.”

Then, Olazabal took the job of captaining the European Royal Trophy side – another fairly thankless task. The Spaniard has worked hard to get to a position where it would be difficult to overlook him for 2010. If it weren’t for Monty throwing his hat into the ring that is.

I think Monty should be vice-captain at Celtic Manor, to get an idea what it’s like being involved (but not playing) at a Ryder Cup, and then he could take the top spot in 2012, possibly 2014 as well. I’m not sure why there is currently a fixation on guys only taking the job as a one-off.  Tony Jacklin did four in a row then Bernard Gallacher did three on the trot.  I’d happily see Bernard Langer back as captain or Ian Woosnam for that matter. What price Seve returning to take the helm in 2014?

The Alliance travelled to Buckpool this week. Owing to, yet another, hard frost, the course was on winter greens – disappointing as Buckpool is one of the best tracks on the Alliance circuit. It’s irritating for the lower handicappers and pros when winter greens are in use as the playing field is levelled. The temporary surfaces are always short of the main greens and, normally, short of all the greenside bunkers. The longer hitters and better ball-strikers see their advantage diminished. Yes, I apologise, I am arrogantly describing myself as a better ball-striker, I don’t have a problem hitting it, it’s getting it into the hole I struggle with.

Anyway, I managed to get it into the hole quite effectively at Buckpool and, for a time on the back nine, it looked as though I was going to post a very good score. According to the card I started back – birdie, par, birdie, birdie, birdie (I’ll keep quiet about the fact that the winter course was so short that some of the par 4s were playing more like 3s.) But then, on the 17th, my golfing nemesis reared his ugly head – the duffed chip. I was so irritated by it that I took three more to get down for a double bogey five. I finished with a 67 – fourth place and three behind the winner. All that was left for me was kicking myself all the way home.