Monty chooses formidable captaincy line up
Colin Montgomerie has always contended that Darren Clarke should have been in the last European Ryder Cup team, but his selection of the Northern Ireland player as a vice- captain for the 2010 match is a surprise.
In recent years they have not been thought to be close, even though they were partners for Clarke's European debut at Valderrama in 1997. It is their enduring mutual desire to beat America and regain the famous trophy that provides the common ground between the two men.
And getting Clarke on board is a real coup for Europe's skipper. He is the perfect supplement to the tactical intelligence provided by Paul McGinley and the passion and experience that Thomas Bjorn brings to the captaincy team.
It is, though, a great shame that Jose Maria Olazabal is not part of the set-up. At one stage the Spaniard was odds-on to be the captain for the 2010 clash and Monty's first move when he was appointed was to say that Olazabal would be part of his backroom staff.
But announcing this without first speaking to the two-time Masters winner didn't go down well with Olazabal, who has been away from the tour all season as he battles his long standing rheumatic problems.
This absence is the reason Montgomerie gives for leaving him out of the supporting cast for Europe's quest to regain the trophy.
There's also no room for a Welshman despite the captain saying on several occasions that he would like the host country represented and speculation that 2002 Ryder Cup star Phillip Price might fulfil that role.
Now it's over to Rhys Davies and his silky putting skills to try to force himself into the team, otherwise Celtic Manor's honorary captain Gareth Edwards will have to shoulder the home burden.
Regardless, Montgomerie has assembled a formidable line-up to steward what looks like being the strongest team the continent has ever fielded in a Ryder Cup.
Clarke was always a huge presence on the course as a player; someone the opposition would be keen to avoid. But his influence stretched further because he has always been a huge personality in the locker-room.
Players like and respect him as a character and as a golfer. Given his recent return to form, it might still be possible for him to play his way into the side and Montgomerie has said he wants him there in whatever capacity.
"Monty asked me last week at the Open," Clarke said. "We had been trying to get together for a couple of weeks before that. I wouldn't say it came as a surprise but no I wasn't half expecting it.
"It was one of those things where I've been trying to play myself on to the team and obviously the last couple of weeks have been better for me, but as soon as he asked me to be one of the vice-captains I jumped at the opportunity.
"He said to me 'look I want you at Celtic Manor one way or the other' so he's given me the option if I do play well and get myself on the team then that's fine as well."
Clarke, McGinley and Bjorn are like the three amigos. They are firm friends and command huge respect throughout European golf.
Montgomerie is more than aware of this and witnessed the leadership skills of McGinley and Bjorn at last years Vivendi Trophy when the Irishman's GB and Ireland team trounced the Dane's Continental Europe line-up.
McGinley was outstanding in his dealings with the players, creating partnerships and handling the media responsibilities. He will be the perfect assistant to Montgomerie in all of these areas.
Bjorn knows the politics of European golf better than anyone else as the chairman of the Tournament Committee and was widely respected for his role as an assistant to Bernhard Langer at Oakland Hills in 2004.
Clarke is the joker in the pack, the one who will raise morale when needed and set the mood for the team-room.
Most importantly Montgomerie is now talking about his captaincy "team" and treating it as a collective. There was always a danger that the 2010 Ryder Cup could become all about him, but already he is spreading the load and appears ready to share the acclaim.
This is a very positive sign and offers yet more reason to support the current extraordinarily short odds being offered on a European victory.