The Ryder Cup is still four days away and ex-player, former Ryder Cup captain, and the elephant on the fairways, Colin Montgomerie, has already stomped his way into the headlines ahead of his stint as a occasional talking head for Golf Channel during the upcoming matches.
Seems Montgomerie, who worries that trash-talking American fans cheering the home team on at Medinah will fluster the tender sensibilities of Team Euro, is the only golf watcher currently alive not thrilled about a potential Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy tete-a-tete in Sunday’s singles finale.
“Of course, it’s a hell of a boost to have the game’s dominant player in our ranks. Indeed, such is his form I wish Rory could play 10 matches at Medinah, not five,” read a Sunday Telegraph column under Mrs. Doubtfire’s byline. “But there is also a danger in having the undisputed No. 1, as America proved when Tiger Woods was in his pomp.”
Charging that the U.S. fell apart after Woods -- who, Monty said, captain Corey Pavin asked to saddle up and carry the 2010 team vs. Montgomerie’s European squad -- lost the first game, the 31-time European Tour winner begged captain Jose Maria Olazabal not to expose the world No. 1 to such punishment. (Never mind that McIlroy has repeatedly expressed great interest in tilting with his boyhood idol on the Ryder Cup battlefield.)
“It threw them completely,” Montgomerie wrote. “We knew that if we went out and took down Tiger it would be like cutting the head off the snake. It was only one point on the board, but it was worth so much more. America’s momentum was lost -- totally and irretrievably.”
Montgomerie conceded that then-Ryder Cup rookie McIlroy had expressed the desire to take Woods on in singles two years ago but that Colin the coddler chose to shelter his naive charge from the wiles of the 14-time major champ.
“As captain I wouldn’t [have] expected anything less from this tremendous young competitor, but I was thinking: ‘Hang on, hang on, keep away from Tiger.’
“He’s to be avoided, particularly in a head-to-head in America,” Montgomerie, tail tucked firmly between his ample thighs, added. “Rory would have something to lose. Tiger would be freewheeling and we saw what he can do when in the mood against poor Francesco Molinari [a 4 and 3 beat down] in Wales.”
“My God,” Montgomerie continued, challenging readers not to envision the red-cheeked blusterer fanning himself rapidly with a scorecard to ward off the vapors, “he blasted him away....Let someone else take that, not our best player.”
(No, really, he actually typed that; you can’t make this stuff up.)
Even worse, perhaps, than ruining McIlroy’s career by setting him against a guy he went toe-to-toe with throughout the just-completed FedEx Cup series, Montgomerie worried that the loutish American fans would ride roughshod over the entire visiting team.
“Europe won’t just be playing America, they’ll be playing Chicago. And in this respect I am a little fearful,” Montgomerie inked, likely to the embarrassment of McIlroy, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, and the rest of the unit from the civilized nation states across the pond.
“In Wales most of the 50,000 spectators were golfers, members of golf clubs, proper golf fans. I don’t think that’s the same in America. They’re just sports fans,” Montgomerie wrote, no doubt looking down his clownish nose as he did. “I spoke to Lee [Westwood] after Valhalla in 2008 and he was disappointed with the way he was treated. He became, as I did, one of the main threats to the US team and came under verbal fire.”
Verbal fire? Oh no! Call out the National Guard!
“Sure, the Americans love Rory,” Montgomerie said with what had to be a figurative sniff. “How can you fail to love Rory? But you wait.”
And then came -- drum roll please -- the inevitable reference to those Brookline boors.
“When the flags are waving, when the “USA, USA” is bellowing, things change totally,” Montgomerie said, prompting at least one “no duh” from his readers. “As an example we thought Brookline would be great in 1999. You know, the Boston Celtics, the Irish ancestry, it’ll be fine.
“Well, it didn’t turn out quite like that, did it?” Montgomerie asked rhetorically. “Boos and insults followed some of us everywhere. It was a daunting scenario. Let’s pray we witness nothing like that.”
Oh, let’s do. In the meantime, Montgomerie has just painted a huge bulls-eye (larger than the one he usually wears just walking around) on his considerable back side. We trust Chicago fans will behave accordingly.