Monty's ideal start to 2010
Is this the week that most New Year resolutions are broken? From personal experience it seems that way and there's a danger of it appearing that one is going out of the window right now.
Some will find this hard to believe, but in 2010 I intend not to go too overboard about the Ryder Cup, referring to it only when relevant and not letting it become too much of an overpowering influence.
We can get a tad carried away with the biennial dust-up between Europe and the United States, as several contributors to this blog have pointed out.
But it does seem appropriate now to make mention of October's clash even though we have a full gestation period to go before it is delivered to the sporting stage. And not because tickets for the practice days at Celtic Manor have just gone on sale.
More pertinent is Colin Montgomerie's captaincy of Europe as the continent regained the Royal Trophy against Asia in Bangkok at the weekend.
There is, of course, a world of difference between the Royal Trophy and the Ryder Cup, no-one can deny that. But it was still an opportunity for Monty to lead a side with next autumn in mind.
It seems the skipper passed the test with flying colours. The fact that Henrik Stenson was able to hole the winning putt in the last match on the final green provided a fitting finale as well as Europe's third win in four matches since the inception of the Royal Trophy in 2006.
Montgomerie made the most of the opportunity that came his way after agreeing to stand in for the recuperating Seve Ballesteros as European skipper. It would not have taken too much persuasion to get him to lead the side.
Naturally players are going to be reluctant to criticise someone who may consider them as a potential wildcard come this September and Monty hasn't been short of praise in the wake of his side's victory.
But a slightly more objective and therefore worthwhile view of Monty's captaincy has been provided by Noren's caddie Colin Byrne.
The experienced and erudite Irishman provides a regular column for the Irish Times and he told the paper: "We all left Thailand on the Sunday night with a sense of camaraderie and team spirit that is non existent in the traditionally selfish game of golf."
Byrne saw great value in the practice round that involved his man Noren and Martin playing with the captain. "They had no real contact with Monty before this and were curious how he would be" he wrote. "He was relaxed, confident and authoritative, as you would expect an elder statesman to be."
Byrne also revealed that Montgomerie organised team meals that included players and caddies together throughout the week as he sought to build a winning team spirit.
"Monty's attitude was the Asians were up for it and we did not travel through so many time zones to lose," Byrne said.
Montgomerie played as well as skippered his team, something he won't be doing in Wales in October. He regarded the other seven team members as Ryder Cup candidates and it is clear he was seeking to try out man-management techniques that may come into play when the US provide the opposition.
Europe's winning Royal Trophy team. Will there be more celebrations in October?
The Royal Trophy usually passes without too much attention, this one may well have carried a touch more significance.
Okay that's enough Ryder Cup, until the next time - when it might be that we are considering Martin Laird's credentials to play for Europe. It would be wrong to start on that theme now, but his fourth-placed finish in the season opening SBS Championship bodes well for the Scot in 2010.
It is extraordinary that the new season has begun and the world number one remains in hiding. Speculation abounds as to his whereabouts, when he will come back and how he will approach his return to public life.
One recent story in America took my eye and perhaps offers an indication of how he might consider going about this.
It culminated in a live interview at 7pm Eastern Time on the fledgling Major League Baseball Network. The strategy was devised by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer who runs a crisis communication company.
Fleischer's sports communications firm is a joint venture with the International Management Group that looks after Woods' affairs. He, therefore, might be well-placed to assist the rehab process when Woods returns, especially as one of the areas of advice he offers is when and when not to talk.
Judging by the strategy used with McGwire, Fleischer's preferred route seems to be through the specialist sports media. The ever comprehensive American golf blogger Geoff Shackleford concludes this is potentially good news for the Golf Channel and it is hard to disagree.
But at this stage it is just yet more speculation. In the absence of concrete facts regarding Woods we are, of course, left with nothing else.
Finally for now, the start of a big season lies ahead this week for two Englishmen desperate to return to former glories. Justin Rose, ranked 70 in the world, has to climb 20 places in those rankings to gain a place at April's Masters - the major he nearly won just three years ago.
Rose starts his campaign at the Sony Open in Hawaii this week as does Luke Donald who has to get used to professional life without his brother Christian (now with Paul Casey) performing caddying duties.
John McLaren, who previously worked with Anders Hansen, Duffy Waldorf and Scott Dunlap, will be taking over the club-carrying for Donald.
Expectant father Donald's push this season will be, like Rose, for an injury-free 2010 and for a place in Monty's Ryder Cup team.
Sorry a gratuitous mention of the RC there. I can only apologise as my resolve crumbles before your very eyes.