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Monty rocket ignites Europe revival

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Rob Hodgetts | 20:54 UK time, Saturday, 2 October 2010

Colin Montgomerie was flustered, panicky even, at the start of Saturday's third session.

By the end of play the European Ryder Cup captain had less reason to stress. But he was still clearly agitated.

Montgomerie has put his heart and soul into winning back the Ryder Cup but a bunch of freewheeling Americans looked to be riding roughshod over his best-laid plans.

But the Ryder Cup is all about momentum. There are highs and lows along the way and going into Sunday, Europe are soaring. Theoretically, anyway. The scoreboard still says Europe 4-6 United States but the home side are up in all six unfinished matches - two foursomes and four fourballs.

If Friday's washout marred the start of the event, Super Saturday, one of the longest days in Ryder Cup history, was a feast with 16 matches on show, and six foursomes played in their entirety.

It may have been messy to follow at times, and there is an argument that some of the tactical intrigue has been lost, with the selection conundrum removed from the captains. But tell that to the paying public.

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Monty aims to maintain momentum

The all-blue scoreboard on Saturday night is no guarantee of anything, of course, but it puts a different hue on the match, which looked to be going the way of the US when Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar stole a point off Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy to conclude the earlier six-match foursomes session.

"It wasn't going so well this afternoon, to be honest with you," bemoaned Montgomerie. "It was a bit stale. I felt there wasn't enough passion on the golf course."

Sighing, emotional and distracted by his shoes ("I must throw these things in the bin") Montgomerie bizarrely embarked on a long monologue in his news conference.

He told us how he had implored the players to fire up the crowd and get them acting as Europe's "13th man". He also revealed he has asked for the giant screens to show less action on Sunday in order to display more of the scoreboard, and hopefully a profusion of blue.

And he admitted any further delay would result in a Monday finish and, perhaps crucially, dismissed notions of a shotgun start or revamped singles order, depending on when the morning matches finish, to get the competion finished on Sunday.

He gushed about how pleased he was to have Jose Maria Olazabal with the team and admitted a recording of the radio traffic on his team walkie-talkies may have rendered the air bluer than the morning's scoreboard.

He also hinted he may have given his side something of a "talking to" before the third session, and revealed he spent a long time trying to gee up McDowell and McIlroy after they let slip a one-shot lead with three holes to play.

Young McIlroy is still a work in progress after a number of errors at crucial moments. The 21-year-old had his moments, but missed a short putt for a half on 17 and leaked his pitching wedge approach into the right greenside bunker on 18, after finding the water with his second on the same hole earlier in the day to leave his partner under pressure.

As the third session got under way Montgomerie told TV: "We need to go into the singles at 8-8 minimum, minimum. (Monty says lots of things twice).

"All I can do is tell my players how good they are. We've got the motivational videos on with clips of them winning trophies and holing putts. I can't do any more. It's all about passion and want. All I can do is give them passion. The motivation is there from losing in 2008. They've got to want it and by God they do."

Monty's rocket seemed to have done the trick and Luke Donald and Lee Westwood set the tone by surging to a five-hole lead over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker before dropping back to four up at the close. Behind them, McDowell and McIlroy responded well and lead Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan by three.

In the other three matches, Europe are two up in two, and one up in two. Slim margins, but something for Europe to cling to.

"It was a very important two hours of play and we came through it with flying colours," said Montgomerie, who lauded Westwood and must also be pleased with the way Padraig Harrington is edging back to form in the company of Ross Fisher, who is growing in stature.

Indeed, Harrington, whose wildcard pick caused such consternation, won his first Ryder Cup match since 2004 on Saturday afternoon.

The last time a team came from behind after the first session to win was 1999 when the US overhauled a 2.5-1.5 deficit. Europe trailed by the same margin when Friday's fourballs were eventually concluded at 1045 BST on Saturday.

Should they hold firm in all six matches still on course, that would give them a 10-6 lead going into the singles, also the same as in 1999. Trouble is, that year the Americans came storming back to win. Further session comparisons don't really count because of the reworked format.

US captain Corey Pavin, as he has all week, remained level-headed and pragmatic. "I have not seen points given for matches that are through four, five, six or seven holes," he said.

Of some concern for Pavin must be the form of Woods. The world number one was carried by the putting of Stricker for much of the day and he cut a dejected figure after a series of wayward irons in the unfinished foursomes match.

The skipper wouldn't admit it, nor would he say that Phil Mickelson has disappointed so far, though he agreed the mis-firing partnership with Dustin Johnson needed to be split up. Mickelson, incidentally, last won a Ryder Cup point six matches ago in the second session in 2008.

If Montgomerie has put pressure on his side by demanding they go into the singles level at the very least, Pavin was less specific.

"Everybody is trying to do the best they can and that's all you can ask," he said. "Where we end up is where we end up. The objective is to have more points than Europe at the end of the competition."

When that is, we don't yet know. And Sunday's forecast is not promising. What we do know is that while the results of Sunday morning's resumption will be important, the fate of the Ryder Cup will be decided by the singles. There will be no hiding places.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I agree with Pavin, Europe may be up in 6 but they are all a long way from being done and dusted.

    However, this was good captaincy, the team did play diferently, they stepped it up a level and started to believe that everything was possible, you can hole chips from off the green, monster triple breakers can be made.

    This is the essence of the Ryder Cup and Matchplay. The combination of super charged adrenalin and matchplay where all you can lose is 1 hole, leads to a diferent level of golf when it works. Strokeplay is all about percentages and leads to a very common sense approach to the game.

    Worst but funniest moment of the day.....Harrington leaving it the fairway bunker, the comentator calling it a schoolboy error and just to prove the point....Fowler (not much older than a schoolboy) does the same thing!

    Europe need the same spark tomorrow and if so, they should come home the winners.

    Consistently good blogs Rob, hope that you can take over from IC on a permanent basis.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good luck to Montgomerie. The BBC (judging by the negative remarks posted on its live text) and the British media may not want to admit it, but he's been fabulous so far.
    His selections and pairings have been fine, even if some didn't play up to expectations, and everyone seems to be up for t'Cup.
    Crucial thing for Europeans now is to grind out as many points as possible, 5 or 6 hopefully, and watch the usual US suspects twitch their short putts the tighter the Sunday collar gets.
    Come on Europe!

  • Comment number 3.

    The competition has been excellent, the telly coverage on Sky has been awful... not enough live action (most of it seems to have been covered on the radio at least a minute or two earlier) and they're obsessed with talking, playing musical montage's and sounding all terribly earnest about it all.

    Not the same without Peter Aliss, Ken Brown, et al.

  • Comment number 4.

    Monty's interviews get more bizzare the longer the week goes on. To be frank, his comments tonight about the TV/Scoreboards showing less golf and more scoreboards, his supposed unhapiness at the "lack of passion" at times today were the biggest load of codswallop i've ever heard.
    Thank god for Pavin who is capable of speaking coherently and sensibly.

    Oh, and much as i love Graeme McDowell, can he please stop punching the air and high fiving, or at least wait till you win a match..............

  • Comment number 5.

    Lee Westwood should get a Knighthood for his wonderful insprational play - he was truly inspired and is a credit to the European team. The rest of the guys played very well and it is to be hoped that they can carry the momentum they built up this afternoon.

    Let's see tomorrow if Woods can make some kind of contribution. His play and attitude today and yesterday was disgraceful for the world No.1 and his bacon was saved by Stricker who has played some magnificent golf. Pavin should have picked someone else as it's not as if America doesn't have a wealth of talent.

    I wonder if McIlroy will get a crack at Woods in the singles!!

    Looks like Europe might be back on track but there's a long way to go and the singles will probably be where the cup is won or lost.

  • Comment number 6.

    John Cregan must be American.

    Although Codswallop is not a Yankee word, so I am not sure why you are bashing the captain. I watched the ESPN Stateside coverage and Monty is spot on it was getting stale and we lost a few players as their heads dropped a little.

    I think what he said is perfect and it shows by the start of the 3rd session and the Euro surge. I still think there is alot to happen and whilst I am not Montys biggest fan he is doing a much better job that Faldo did 2 yrs ago!

    The players need to execute, bottom line!!!

    MON EUROPE!

  • Comment number 7.

    its an absolute disgrace that the BBC 9 minute highlight of day one didnt include a single mention/shot of the Italians. Disgrace.

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree with surrey bloke,the sky coverage has been terrible..shots not shown,putts not shown..all of a sudden "oh this is for a half" in Bruce 'i'm a school headmaster I am' Critchley voice,comes up and they haven't shown the approach shots..They have enough b.s and ad breaks,its not like it's a full stroke play event,we want to see every shot,good and bad!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Mr. Hodgetts,

    Wouldn't it be appropriate to put things a little more into perspective? "Montgomerie has put his heart and soul..." My goodness. People who spent their entire lives trying to make it a better world for others with the minimal sources they'd been handed, they deserve to be associated with the T'Pau-classic. Not some overrated, overweight, selfish, filthy-rich, semi-talented, obnoxious guy. Golf might mean the ultimate, most exiting game for some or a pleasant, relaxing way to kill the odd afternoon in front of the television for others, but it simply cannot be counted amongst sport in the true sense of the word. One might argue that it is pretty hard to wack a tiny ball 600 yards down the fields and to drop it nicely onto the green and into the hole - I will never disagree with such a dead-giveaway. But so is throwing a banana over the roof of a two-story building (except for the Finches in this world). Again, no hard feelings towards the game of golf. But please, stop this emotional nonsense. Ryder-captainship usually is the reward for a blistering golf-career. Handling it hardly requires more than some common sense & fine tuned man management. That's it. All the rest is showbizz. Occasionally seriously good showbizz even. But no heart, and definitely no soul.

  • Comment number 10.

    Dear Are you ready to be heartbroken,
    " overrated, overweight, selfish, filthy-rich, semi-talented, obnoxious guy." I take is that you know Monty personally and hence have first hand knowledge to be able to call him selfish and obnoxious? And yes he is rich, probably because over the course of his career he has been significantly better than semi-talented. Despite his lack of majors, I suggest you look at his career record and in particular his dominance of the European Tour for many years. As for your "overweight" comment, that is simply offensive.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dear Are You Ready to be Heartbroken,

    I take it you were feeling rather bitter towards the world, and in particular Monty, at 5am this morning? I genuinely hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday more than you enjoyed the early hours.

    I would be delighted to hear your criteria for sport in the true sense of the word.

  • Comment number 12.

    who thought going to wales in october for anything other than canoeing would be a good idea??

  • Comment number 13.

    Whether or not Monty is overweight is irrelevant to how well he performs as Captain of the team. He hasn't so far got himself stuck in the mud like an unfit and over-fed hippo in a mudbath on the banks of the Zambezi, has he?

    My worry about Monty is that he will become even more outrageously puffed up with a sense of his own importance should Europe go on to win this competition.

    (On reflection, I don't worry too much about the size of Monty's ego, and it doesn't stop me hoping that Europe will be victorious in the unlikely event that the weather in Wales allows this competition to reach a conclusion).

  • Comment number 14.

    Really, who thought it would be a good idea to have the Ryder cup in Wales beginning in October? 10 years in the waiting and now this? Britain and major sporting events? Useless, absolutely useless.

  • Comment number 15.

    Whilst holding the Ryder Cup in Wales, in October might not be the best idea being that its usually held in September when its here, you can't then condemn Britain as a whole and how it conducts major sporting events, #14. There are plenty of events that the British Isles hosts that are excellent so your extrapolation is somewhat wrong.

  • Comment number 16.

    #6 Hi WI Scot,
    I can assure you i am very much a Euro. Doesn't mean that i have to agree with everything Monty says or does.
    He rambled on for about 10 minutes yesterday evening without anyone even asking him a question!
    God help if you are one of the 40,000 at Celtic Manor today and want to watch some golf on the big screens. Hard Luck, Monty has decreed that the golf will be replaced by SCOREBOARDS.
    This Monty fella has a future in communism!!! Control what they see.....................
    Come on Monty, it's not all about you.

  • Comment number 17.

    only watched the highlights on the beeb last night, but wondering why not more noise is being made about luke donald. he's played some stunning stuff and is clearly relishing his role as unexpected crowd favorite - best of monty's picks so far.

    maybe folks could swing this thread down a more positive route, rather than monty/weather/golf bashing...

  • Comment number 18.

    Colin Montgomerie the general leading from the front, I can't believe it. Having watched this small petulant boy whingeing his way around the golf courses of the world I don't think he has the creditability or the respect of the players to whom he is giving a 'rocket'.

    Personal pride in their own abilities is what is driving them.

  • Comment number 19.

    Ban Bam,
    Donald has been terrific. A forum like this though is useful to help people get things off their chest! For example, Monty claiming credit for Europe being up in all the Session 3 matches after scolding them for not showing enough passion!!
    While Monty is a likeable kinda fella at times, there is no doubting he is a bit of an Egomaniac...................

  • Comment number 20.

    Far too much praise is given to the captains in the Ryder Cup. They do play their part, but ultimately its all down to the players to perform. Monty and his 'churchill like speeches' go down well with the public and the media, but i'm not buying it. The players out on the course are the only ones who can win or lose the Ryder Cup, not the captain and all his team talks.

  • Comment number 21.

    There are complaints virtually every Ryder Cup about the captain so I guess this is no different, although there aren't any from the players right now of course. There is some fairly nasty stuff being said about him, which is all very personal, and much of it very uninformed. I'd love to hear how #18 believes that he has no credibility, or respect from the players? Montgomery was Europe #1 for more years than anyone else, so surely he has credibility? He was a very successful Ryder Cup player with years of experience, so to suggest he will command no respect is surely nonsense too?

    I'm not necessarily a big fan of him as a person, and I don't think he is entirely at ease with being so prominent in the public eye at this event. Pavin seems more comfortable and relaxed. Until the tournament has finished, and you've heard what the players have to say though, people should reserve if not completely withold their bile until we see how Europe does.

    #14 Montgomery wants to try and create more atmosphere by allowing people to see the score and the movements between blue and red. If I were there I'd probably want to see more golf too, but being that its the Sky coverage (do they get the adverts on the course too?) they won't even get to see all the shots. He is thinking about what is best for his team so its not Communism at all - bit of nonsense.

  • Comment number 22.


    Monty?

    Complex bloke, brilliant golfer, excellent captain.

  • Comment number 23.

    I agree with the comment about the TV coverage being poor - I would also like to see the scores perhaps in the corner of the screen.

    I think that the organisaers have let us down a bit also - apart from planning it in October in Wales - which was always going to be a challenge - they clearly had no plan on how to manage weather delays even though there was a high probability that they would need to - right up to the day before!

    That said - anyone understand why they did not go for a "shot-gun" start to the second and third sessions. We estimated that this might just have recovered ALL of the time from day 1 - depending of course on how many would go 17 or 18 holes.

    For me and those watching - it is a massive disappointment that after 2 years waiting we will not be able to watch the Singles conclusion.

    Gutted !

  • Comment number 24.

    Good to see Europe Montyng a comeback. We may not be out of the woods, but we are pavin the way...let's hope our players don't get strickern by even fowler weather. They could cink even lower than yesterday when they kaymer real cropper. Think that's enough - I could corey on bubba don't want to.

  • Comment number 25.

    #23 Agreed, being at work while its completed, and not being able to watch it will be very disappointing. I wonder how many people will be able to attend in person tomorrow being that spectators won't have planned for it. Will they charge people for an extra day? Sounds like a good money spinner for the organisers whilst being bad for everyone else.

  • Comment number 26.

    Luke here Evan, Soren all as the Americans must be at the way the Angels seem to be on our side since Saturday afternoon, we should not Ross to conclusions but Lee-ve the Rorying until it's all over.

  • Comment number 27.

    Billtils,
    I phil you are taking the mickeyson and have been a little hunterhand: I stuck to Ryder Cup participants! Zach's the way to do it, even if it means dustin a gut and coming up with poultery puns. Do you think we've overton it a bit? Or is there morelinari to come?

  • Comment number 28.

    In defence of Sky, i believe the coverage has been very good as usual. imagiane, they take ad breaks, the cheek of them!! what is the world coming to!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Laughing my backside off at the notion of a Woods vs McIlroy grudge match - I mean come on they've been the worst players on either side. Put them both out 12th in the singles and forget about them. Woods has never liked the Ryder Cup and McIlroy showed outrageous disrespect last year by calling the match an exhibition that he didn't consider a big priority before he had actually experienced playing in one. Now they are both embarrasing themselves with their dire form and their pre-match war of words is looking ever more cringeworthy.

    Come on the other Europeans though! Westwood, Donald and Fisher have been class. And Peter Hanson was nailing the flags last night!!

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    #28 ad breaks are one thing, but they take full length ad breaks, and keep missing shot after shot. I have no problem with Sky's coverage of the cricket, although I do get annoyed at times when an ad break comes on after a wicket falls. Sometimes it would be good to get a bit of analysis and take a slow mo look at what happened. I think their football coverage is generally good too.

    Their golf coverage I will maintain at this tournament is just not up to the same scratch. Bruce Critchley, to me, just comes across as a little bit pompous, there is just something about him that makes it painful to listen. Their guy that they have interviewing the players, et al is poor too, they'd be better off with Geoff (Jeff) Shreeves who does the football, and he's not the greatest either.

  • Comment number 32.

    fico808 wrote:

    "...I don't think he has the creditability or the respect of the players to whom he is giving a 'rocket'."

    That because he was as successfull a player as the vast majority of the players in the team or maybe because he's the 2nd alltime highest scorer for the Europeans in Ryder Cup history?

  • Comment number 33.

    I can't believe the amount of people bashing Monty at the moment. I think that the performance is the most important and they should listen to what the players say about him....which will only really come out after the event.

    That really was a fantastic performance from Europe. 5 1/2 points out of 6.......everyone played their part.

    #29 Facker.....I don't know what tournament you are refering to, McIlroy may be hyped by European press, but he has played well it's just that he and McDowell came up against the strongest US team in Cink and Kuchar. They set the record straight(er) today though. He's only 21 and in his 1st Ryder Cup, do you expect him to be as good as Westwood straightaway? The Ryder Cup is like no other golf tournament. In 2 years he will be even better.

    You should try cheering on ALL the Europeans.

  • Comment number 34.

    Whats with all the Mcilroy bashing-did you all not notice all the cracking drives coming down the stretch today-i thought he was outstanding for the last 6-or 7 holes-granted he missed a few putts but he is going to be some player when he gets that out of the system-remember thats what cost him the USPGA this year-all he needed was for 1 or 2 putts to drop and he now would be a major champion-i dont understand why people are slating him!!

  • Comment number 35.

    Mciloy will be something to be beat, especially as he matures. Awesome golf today, let's hope we win the singles.

  • Comment number 36.

    Very odd derision of Monty.

    We lost the first 2 sessions to the US putting more crucial putts - and his role is to try and gee the players up and do the best for his team, and it is his team. Judging by the response last evening and this morning - it has proved inspired.

    Yes players are there for pride, but to say Montys had no effect is complete mind numbing stupidity.

    As a pure golfer he is hugely talented, complex and fragile. However so far as captain here he has done very little wrong, whether you dislike him or not.

    As for the abuse McIlroy is getting, give the lad a chance for crying out loud. Hes 21, its the first time hes experianced this pressure cauldron - he IS GOING TO MAKE MISTAKES. What he said last year is also correct - it is an exhibition event. Still, people like to knock our young players whenever they have a chance. Personally give me McIlroy over Rooney anyday of the week, heres a kid who plays with geniune enjoyment and is down to earth. But no, lets knock him...

  • Comment number 37.

    Simon @ no. 31 - "...they clearly had no plan on how to manage weather delays even though there was a high probability that they would need to - right up to the day before!"

    That is extremely unfair.

    Newport has had about 80% of the normal rainfall for October in the space of three days.

    If Sir Terry & Celtic Manor hadn't been all-too-aware that it rains in wales in October, why did they build a course with fantastic drainage? Within half an hour of the rain stopping, most of the stnding water on the fairways and greens had gone - it was quite a sight to see. If pretty much any other golf course in the world had suffered the deluge that celtic Mudder has faced these last few days, the whole shebang would have been called off.

    As for the timing - may I refer youze to tim Finchem of the PGA Tour? Why not ask him to leave a two-week gap in the Playoffs so that the Ryder Cup, the global golf showcase had a fighting chance of being played in decent weather?

    Let us see how the timings work for next year's President's Cup - which the US will win, again, because they don't face coherent, passionate and committed opposition. If the timing of the Playoffs is more generous then there is no excuse for failure to do the same for the Ryder Cup. Sponsors love it because it is seen all over the world - people are interested. By contrast, no-one outside the USA is much interested in the President's Cup.

 

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