BBC BLOGS - Iain Carter
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
« Previous | Main | Next »

Montgomerie reveals pairings to players

Post categories:

Iain Carter | 19:52 UK time, Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Fabio Capello may favour waiting until the last minute before telling his England footballers who is playing, but that's not a tactic Colin Montgomerie will be following with Europe's golfers at the Ryder Cup.

In fact, Monty is taking the diametrically opposite view. He said he has already told his players who they will be playing with and in which sequence of matches. The skipper has also said he will field all 12 of his side on the opening day of the Celtic Manor clash.

It is an extraordinarily bold and early move that highlights his impatience for the match to begin. "I can't wait now that the team has been selected," he told BBC Sport nine days ahead of the 1 October starting date.

"They understand what is going on during the first day and then we will take stock on the Friday night," Montgomerie said.

The captain says he doesn't want to be a secretive leader and he wants his players to know what is happening wherever possible. But by deciding his line-ups already he has removed the opportunity for them to play themselves into a starting role through practice.

He is not bound by what he has decided so far but it would be more awkward to unravel partnerships should the need arise through any loss of form during the warm-up rounds.

He is also effectively removing the opportunity to experiment with pairings during practice.

So who do we think he has in mind for that opening sequence of fourball matches? Montgomerie says he knows already who will be in the top match that he considers crucial to his side gaining early momentum.

My hunch would be Padraig Harrington with Luke Donald, simply because he sees Harrington as the player to take on the role that Monty used to have as an on-course leader.

What better way to embolden the Irishman?

"He's ready to stand up to the plate on and off the golf course, I think for the first time," Montgomerie said. "This is his sixth Ryder Cup and I think it is time for him to stand up there."

Harrington has plenty of experience of heading out first and did it twice with Montgomerie in the 2004 and 2006 matches. Donald provides a perfect foil.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell seem certain to figure as do Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer - they might be a good bet to be the ones to bring up the rear in that strategically vital anchor position.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


The other pairing is more difficult to predict. One would assume that Ross Fisher would be considered for the fourballs and he has partnered Ian Poulter for England in the World Cup.

If those two were paired together on that first morning it would mean benching the Molinari brothers, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Peter Hanson.

The Italian siblings are an obvious and natural partnership that would work well in the foursomes but Edoardo would also be a major asset in the better-ball format in the morning and there is no rule that says he has to play with his brother.

Molinari and Fisher might work very well and the practice rounds may establish whether there is any chemistry there.

And what of Hanson? Would he be best suited to taking his first Ryder Cup strokes in the pressure cooker environment of alternate shots?

These questions and more make it surprising that Monty has already made up his mind.

The captain is champing at the bit, lying awake at night running scenarios through his head of what might happen in Wales next week. But the thought of one of the players he rejected triumphing at this week's Tour Championship is not depriving him of any sleep.

"It would be no embarrassment at all if Paul Casey won the FedEx Cup, it would be a great boost for the European Tour," Montgomerie claimed.

"It just shows our strength in depth. It was just that five into three just wouldn't go," he added, referring to the selection dilemma he faced three weeks ago.

Europe's leader will be in situ at Celtic Manor for more than a week before the Ryder Cup begins, travelling there from Paris (French industrial action permitting) where he has been promoting the Vivendi Cup.

His next objective is to prepare for what he regards as a crucial team meeting next Monday evening. "I've planned it in my mind. I've got the caddies involved, I'm getting the wives involved and the players.

"That will last a long time, that meeting; that's the rallying call to get us up and running and to encourage them to prove to the rest of the world and especially America how good they are."

And you can bet your bottom euro that the talking won't stop there. There is a whole week's worth to come. It will be a blessed relief when the first ball is struck in anger.

Right now we are left to wonder which four players will be on the tee when it happens and it's an extraordinary thought that Monty already knows the identity of the two who will be there in Europe's colours.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    First up. Monty has set his stall out too early. He has given strategic advantage to the US. They will see our pairings in practice and pick the players to combat each pairing. Big mistake. Also not only has he done this for the morning but by saying that all 12 play on the first day, he will have given the pairings away for the afternoon as well.

    Unecessary bravado from Monty, we all know that it is going to be tight, we'll need every advantage going, shame he couldn't have kept tight lipped.

  • Comment number 2.

    Classic piece of turning a piece of wild speculation into a "What on earth is he doing" story. Just because you have a hunch on Harrington and Donald, two out-of-form captains picks, as the first pair, you think Monty has a problem with Hanson and the Molinaris. He has to drop 4 of them, always best to put rookies out in 4 balls, and why put the two ropiest players together?

  • Comment number 3.

    Laertes, I'd hardly say that Donald was out of form or a ropy player. Both are world top 20 players.....you don't know what you are talking about.

  • Comment number 4.

    Monty's comments can only help to boost Fisher & Hanson's confidence ahead of the RC - I can't see Pavin saying the same re Overton in particular so maybe the real benefit of Monty's decision will be seen in the singles.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Having listened to the interview, one rather feels Mr.Carter is putting pairings into Montgomerie's mouth.
    Yes, Harrington has got to stand up and be counted.
    No, he never said anything about him batting lead-off.
    Perhaps the Vice Captains might persuade Montgomerie to zip his lip for the next eight days and the press, for whom a loss would undoubtedly be a better story than a win, can write about golf and not speculation.

  • Comment number 7.


    Iain who would be your first pairings in Fridays morning 4 ball?

    I would like Westwood and Kaymer. Experience with arguably the best player on the european team.

  • Comment number 8.

    Monty is right to be open and up front with his players. It is unlikely that the players will practice in pairs so they will hardly be giving the USA any pointers in that directions. All the players will have each others stats and will know their patners strong and weak points way before they step onto the first tee. Living in USA and watching the PGA Tour on a weekly basis our players are currently head and shoulders above the USA players including Woods and Mickleson. Its a shame Paul Casey and Justin Rose are not there as it could of been the biggest win ever recorded by either team. European selection process needs to be changed for future Ryder Cups.

  • Comment number 9.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this was all hot air from Monty. I’ve no doubt that he is organised and has a pretty good picture of who he wants to pair up, but Monty loves the attention and no more then playing a few mind games before the off.

    For me the Molinari brothers hold the key. Good form and equal trust in each others game will be key during the pairings. These boys could well be the spark the rest of the team feed off.

    Should be a good weekend.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Iain

    Think that this could be a masterstroke by Monty, by playing all 12 on day 1, too many times we have got to the Saturday afternoon & Sunday to see (and feel sorry for) players who would have been fired up an ready to go on Friday.
    I also can't see by telling the players the line up early is playing into the americans hand, rather the opposite, it's showing great confidence in his team. Even if they practice together, they won't be doing it all for all 3 days, so it will be all guesswork on both sides to who pairs who and in which order.
    I personally would start with Westwood, as i feel the americans will start with Woods, and Westy has played (and outplayed) Woods a few times this year, he could get into his head.
    Do agree that the Molinari's could be better suited to foursomes, as they will know each others game better than any other pairing.
    I would also leave Hanson to the foursomes, as this i feel is a better format to help a rookie to get right into the battle of play and stand up and be counted, rather than fourballs where you can sometimes lose momentum if you are not performing as well as your partner.

    Can't wait for the start, bring it on !!

  • Comment number 11.

    Kwini,

    Just to be clear the pairings I've mentioned are purely speculation on my part - Monty has given no public indication on who will play with whom and where in the batting order. I'm just letting you know what my hunch is, not putting words in the captain's mouth.

  • Comment number 12.

    Monty's statements are straight out of the Sir Alex Ferguson book of reverse psychology. If his 1st four pairings win hansomely in the morning do you think he'll change anything?

    He's given everyone (punters, media and the USA) something to think about and that's exactly what he wanted. Monty's waited years for this moment and to an extent his golf's suffered over past couple of seasons for it but he's ready for it and has left no stone unturned to win the cup back. If Europe don't it won't be due to Monty's preparations.

  • Comment number 13.

    Monty's statements are straight out of the Sir Alex Ferguson book of reverse psychology. If his 1st four pairings win hansomely in the morning do you think he'll change anything?
    He's given everyone (punters, media and the USA) something to think about and that's exactly what he wanted. Monty's waited years for this moment and to an extent his golf's suffered over past couple of seasons for it but he's ready for it and has left no stone unturned to win the cup back. If Europe don't it won't be due to Monty's preparations.

  • Comment number 14.

    Sportsmadgav, I fail to see how even announcing his pairings would give strategic advantage to the US. They could try to pick pairings to combat Europe all they like but without knowing the order it'd be pretty pointless

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Iain, I think you could be right with your pairings, although i don't think I'd risk Harrington in the first group!

    The 4 players left out of your fourball pairings are natural pairings for foursomes too. The Molinari brothers and Jiminez/Hansen would be formidable foursomes pairings. Monty can then pick Westwood/Kaymer and McIlroy/GMac if they play well in the morning or make some other pairings, dropping Harrington as his game just doesn't lend itself to foursomes (not everyone can get it up and down from some of the spots he hits it into!) and perhaps pair Donald - a great foursomes player - with Poulter, Fisher or any other player playing well.

    Having said all that don't be surprised if Monty pairs Harrington and Westwood. He may feel Westwood is only fit for 18 holes a day and a Donald/Kaymer pairing would be pretty good in both fourballs and foursomes!

  • Comment number 16.

    Appreciate that, Iain; that was actually my point!
    I think it would be a very poor message to leave four continental Europeans on Friday morning's bench; I for one would expect him to sit Luke Donald the first morning and hope he plays the Molinari brothers, getting them involved right away - they're the biggest unknown quantity to the US Team (and media) and I'm expecting them to enjoy a terrific Ryder Cup.

  • Comment number 17.

    Two things strike me about this:

    It's either incredibly inflexible captaincy from Monty or the best piece of psychological warfare ever seen in golf!

    Many people have already pointed out the flaws in setting his plans in stone- for one, it shows the US our hand from the start, and giving them time to combat our stratergies. Secondly, it's still over a week to go til we get going. Several of the European Team are playing in competetion before then, to say nothing of the three or so practice rounds that are played. What if Harrington's still hitting it like a drain? If he M/C's in this weeks event, what position does that leave Monty in?

    Alternatively, he could have made this announceemnt to throw all the media attention on him- it's worked!- and off his team. With the US expecting one thing, Monty could throw them a curve-ball at the last moment- provided of course that the players are in on the trick!

    Finally, it's not like Monty hasn't back tracked as RC captain already after making unecessarily bold statements. Remember his talk of all prospective RC players needing to play The Wales Open, The BMW-PGA and the Johnnie Walker?

  • Comment number 18.

    Two things strike me about this:

    It's either incredibly inflexible captaincy from Monty or the best piece of psychological warfare ever seen in golf!

    Many people have already pointed out the flaws in setting his plans in stone- for one, it shows the US our hand from the start, and giving them time to combat our stratergies. Secondly, it's still over a week to go til we get going. Several of the European Team are playing in competetion before then, to say nothing of the three or so practice rounds that are played. What if Harrington's still hitting it like a drain? If he M/C's in this weeks event, what position does that leave Monty in?

    Alternatively, he could have made this announceemnt to throw all the media attention on him- it's worked!- and off his team. With the US expecting one thing, Monty could throw them a curve-ball at the last moment- provided of course that the players are in on the trick!

  • Comment number 19.

    These would be my Friday Morning Fourballs (in order)

    1. Westwood/Rory Mc (stablemates, friends and an old one/young one that has worked so well in the past)

    2. Poulter/McDowell (superb display in 2008 from this pairing)

    3. Harrington/Kaymer (wouldn't play Harri in Foursome and i think they would gel well)

    4. Donald/Eddie Molin (think pairing Molinari Bros together Fri morn would be a mistake. Maybe Saturday when they have both experience of it)

  • Comment number 20.

    Apparently Monty has already named his pairings for the first day and this has been labeled by some as a big mistake, and other negative assessments. Why is it a mistake? It's not been done before but so what, he's now got everyone dancing to his tune including the Americans if they pay any attention to it. I suppose all this needles speculation will go on for the next ten days - Monty should just ignore it. The Ryder Cup is match play, the form book can easily go out the window and the result is usually in favour of the side that wants it more, if you don't perform on the occasion you lose, ask Liverpool and Everton. Different game but same result.

  • Comment number 21.

    This is the best thing Monty could have done.

    He has given a vote of confidence to all 12 of his player by making sure they know they will all be involved from day 1. He has also given them oppertunity to take time to discuss strategy between themselves for each pairing, I speculate also that he has told them not only which pairing they have on day 1 but also which pairings he would consider for day 2. If as a player you know for sure that you will be paired with Player A one day and either him or player B on the second then it gives you that ability to plan.

    As for the practise rounds givng the game away? Possibly, but will those rounds be pairing the same as day 1 pairs, or potential day 2 pairs? Even if they are all day 1s there is no guarentee of the order in which they will play which makes selecting players to counter them pretty much guesswork anyway.


    As for the pairings themselves. For me you need your best player out front and that has to mean Westwood going out in the first pairing. I agree that the pairing with Kaymer should work well though and clearly the German is the form man as far as the Americans are concerned.

    McIlroy/McDowell makes sense and will probably play together in all four matches together.

    This is where I differ though, I reckon you need to get some of the rookies in early with the better ball format and my final two pairings would do that.

    Hanson is the least experienced of the team in terms of pressure situations, follower by the Molinaris. Thus I'd like to see two of them here alongside either Donald or Poulter. My preference would be for Hanson and Edoardo.

    For the foursomes I would consider pairing Harrington and Jiminez together first out. Even if Harrington is out of form they should be wiley enough to make the best of it between them.

    The Molinari Brothers in this format is a gimme I think the previous pairing of Poulter and Fisher also make them good candidates.

    Finally that gives a straight choice for me between sending out McIlroy/McDowell or Kaymer/Donald as the last pairing. I know that leaves Westwood out but given his recent injury I wouldn't want him to have to play all five matches.

  • Comment number 22.

    Pretty bold move, but part of me wants to be wary of assuming the decisions are set in stone.

    Monty it seemed had his Wild Card picks made until the last four holes at Gleneagles caused him to change his mind. So I would not put it past him to be open to other ideas before the first tee-off, with the benefit of having watched the team practice at Celtic Manor.

  • Comment number 23.

    I don't understand why monty would do this - it tells the Americans that he will go for the obvious pairings (gmac + rmc / molinari bros / Westwood + Kaymar / Harrington + Donald) on day one. Why even give the americans a hint at what you're doing... makes no sense?

    Tell the players - sure, but for heaven's sake, keep it quiet...

  • Comment number 24.

    Van someone please let me into the secret behing the Rory McIlroy / Greame McDowell "obvious pairing" ? How is this obvious? Because both names begin with Mac!! Give me a break. The Poulter/McDowell pairing in 2008 was the best pairing Europe had that is still available( no Rose).

    McIlroy/Westwood is a "no brainer" IMO. They always play practice rounds together on practice days and the old one/yound one formula usually works.

  • Comment number 25.

    I presume it's just because they both come from Northern Ireland. Personally I think the similarities between their names would be a better reason to pair them up...

    Sportmadgav - Why is revealing that he knows the line up giving anyone an advantage. What exactly will the Americans know other than the fact that they will end up facing all of the Europeans at one point or other. If he gave away the partnerships and/or the order then I'd agree, as it is I see no problem and in fact I'd rather have it this way so that our guys can prepare. Also Laertes didn't call them ropy players, he called them ropiest, not quite the same thing. His point about form was also not exactly wide of the mark, maybe consider things before telling people that they don't know what they're on about next time.

  • Comment number 26.

    Monty is at best an eccentric, at worst a complete liability.

    Why on earth would you firstly decide the line up one week before necessary and then handcuff yourself by telling the team who's playing with who and when?

    Form next week will count for nothing as will finding players who clearly play well together through practice.

    Its also giving vital information to the opposition unnecessarily as the Friday afternoon pairings will be all but obvious once the Friday morning line-up if revealed.

    Sorry, but I just don't get why you would ever tie your hands like this or give even the smallest amount of information to the opposition...unless you just like the sound of your own voice and can't keep it buttoned

  • Comment number 27.

    Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are great mates, played together in the Vivendi Trophy last year and won 3 out of 4 points. I guess that is the basis behind their "obvious pairing" status.

  • Comment number 28.

    We all know how important "Vivendi Trophy" form is when it comes to the Ryder Cup! I just think we have a proven RC partnership in Poulter/McDowell and Westwood/McIlroy is a prefect fit for me.........

  • Comment number 29.

    I think they should just throw the balls up on the 1st tee. Second guess that Pavin!

  • Comment number 30.

    To #14 and #25,

    I accept that it could be Reverse Psychology from Monty, therefore we should not trust what we see in the practice rounds......I don't see the point of this either, the idea of the practice rounds is that you try out pairings that you think will work well and make adjustments if necessary, either way you show your hand to the opposition, to some extent.

    By saying that you know your pairings and that you will play all 12 on the first day gives Pavin a better idea of who will play and when. When you practice foursomes it's a dead giveaway.

    Make no mistake, Pavin will have almost as good an idea as Monty as to the best European pairings, the practice rounds will only confirm his beliefs.

    The order of play isn't rocket science either. Both teams want to get off to a good start, in our case, get those blue numbers on the board. In case things go wrong, the fourth pairing is usually strong to salvage a poor start. You don't think Pavin has this all worked out?? He was at Kiawah, he's a Ryder Cup die hard a thorn in Europe's side.

    I just don't get Monty giving away information, true or false, either way it helps the Americans.

  • Comment number 31.

    Roll on the 4th October when we'll be rid of this idiot and he goes back to just being the 422 ranked golfer in the world.

    Hope Europe win, but only just, so he can't crow that it was all about him.

  • Comment number 32.

    Frankly I wouldn't play Harrington in any of the matches on Friday or Saturday. He didn't win a match in the last 2 events when he was arguably at the top of his game so what makes anyone think he will contribute this time?

  • Comment number 33.

    Padraig seems a long way from any form. He's +2 today in the Vivendi, on a course that's only 6800 yards long and where -4 for the tourney is about 30th place.

  • Comment number 34.

    It's like handing in homework before the deadline. To most of us it's unthinkable but to the boffin who's been obsessing over it since the moment it was set it comes naturally. So there's no real reason to suggest that he's going for obvious pairings just because he's decided early.
    I think this puts pressure on Pavin; Colin might really go for it and say that he's saving his best pairings for the third and fourth matches (with the permission of the other pairs) so that Pavin has to put his best near the bottom or look cowardly.

  • Comment number 35.

    Fourballs for Friday am

    PH & Luke
    Lee & Kaymer
    Rory & GMac
    Ian P & Ross Fisher

  • Comment number 36.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.