- 14 Sep 06, 02:04 PM
WENTWORTH - Hunting for some Ryder Cup clues at the World Match Play at Wentworth I happened upon Denis Pugh, coach of European talisman Colin Montgomerie.
So I asked him how Monty was and what he was expecting at the K Club. And nice man that Denis is, he told me.
To find out his answers, read on. But suffice to say, I don't think there is any danger Monty - and the rest of the European team for that matter - won't be busting a gut at the K Club next week.
How's Monty's form? It's in pretty good shape. He played well at the BMW tournament recently, finishing two shots off the lead, and got a lot of confidence from that. He hit the ball well and putted a bit better.
He has always got to worry about his putting because he sets up so many chances tee to green that if he doesn’t start to take them it would be easy to begin fretting and thinking: "Why am I not putting well?"
But you’ve got to remember that most of his putts are around six to 20ft and they're not easy to make, even a machine misses those. So I'd say it looks like he's putting worse than he is because he oftens two-putts greens, but he very rarely needs a one-putt because he's very rarely chipping up to three or four feet.
How much is Monty looking forward to the Ryder Cup? For him that’s such a big occasion and, fortunately or unfortunately, it comes around every two years. I'm not sure he could cope with it if it was every year! But he really does seem to enjoy the event and it seems to enjoy him as well.
It's a combination of the team spirit, the way the crowd gets behind him and fact that he's unbeaten in the singles, which is a proud record.
I'm sure that will be one of the things he wants to retain but more importantly he would be happier to retain the Ryder Cup. Sometimes you can't have your cake and eat it.
Why does the Ryder Cup inspire him so much? He does hate to lose, so he's motivated more by the fact that he hates to lose than by winning. And winning is the option you get when you don't lose.
A lot of psychologists talk about the idea of chasing a prize of winning. Monty is actually running away from losing so it’s a different attitude to a lot of players.
In matchplay he's usually very consistent tee to green, and when you play matchplay that’s hard to play against because if you make a mistake as his opponent, he doesn't often give something back to you.
How do you see the European pairings at the Ryder Cup? The thing Ian Woosnam’s got, which is so important, is 12 guys who can play with anyone - 12 utility players if you like.
The Americans have a harder choice because clearly certain players don’t go well with other players, like Woods and Mickelson two years ago which was crazy.
But there isn’t a player that Woosie couldn’t say to Monty, "You're playing with X in the foursomes and Y in the fourballs, or X all week". They’re interchangeable. It’s a bit like Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, he's got a good squad.
Who will win the Ryder Cup? Every one of the European team I've seen in the last couple of weeks seems to be quite happy and relaxed about it. Much has been made about the bonding of the Americans but I think it's more natural that the Europeans have already bonded.
Ian Woosnam's got a very easy tough job. It’s easy because he got a happy squad of very good players. But he’s got a tough job of which decision to make and which players to use, though I bet he'd prefer it that way round than the other way.
Europe have become less favoured with the bookies than they were a month or so back and Tom Lehman has done a very good PR job with the American team. He's been a very good front man and gives an impression of confidence and that he knows what he's doing.
But the bottom line is that once the matches start, it's how well you play the game of golf.
We've got 12 better players and they’ve got 12 less good players, so in my mind Europe will win.
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