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Colin Montgomerie sits back in his chair and breathes out as he pauses for thought.

We’re in a meeting room in the grandiose clubhouse at Royal Troon, a club at which the Scot has been a member since childhood and the host venue of the 152nd Open, as guests of a Mercedes-Benz Patrons Day. But the conversation has turned from golf’s oldest major to next year’s Ryder Cup, and we’ve just asked him if he was surprised at Luke Donald taking on the European captaincy for a second term.

It’s the first time he’s drawn breath in 15 minutes or so.

“I am surprised, yes,” he says, eventually.

“Mind you, we’ve lost a few captains to LIV Golf – Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson – so there were fewer options. Justin Rose springs to mind for the next one, but good on Luke Donald for going, ‘Right, come on, we’ll try and win this in New York.’ And if they do that, it will be something very special.”

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Montgomerie successfully guided the European team to glory at Celtic Manor in 2010, and while he had a very good record in the States as a player – ten of his 23.5 points came on US soil – he wasn’t as keen to skipper in an away match.

The reason for that, he explains, is quite simple.

“It’s a big ask,” he says. “It’s a big ask for Luke Donald to do it again. I was asked, Sam Torrance was the same, as was Ian Woosnam, and Bernhard Langer. But we all turned it down, because once you’ve won it, you want to get out unscathed.”

He continues the thought process: “The crowd. The expectation. A New York crowd is not an Arizona crowd, or a California crowd. It’s a New York crowd. It’s going to be rowdy, it’s going to be wild, and it’s going to be very, very difficult for us to compete at all.

“Look at the world rankings right now. It’s weighted heavily in their favour, again, as they all are. Wouldn’t it be great to break that scene and win away? Luke proved that he was a great captain, and a great choice. What happened in Rome to reverse that thrashing we had in Whistling Straits was superb. Whether we can hang on to it or not, no one’s really sure. As I said, it’s a big ask.”

Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie was talking to bunkered at a Mercedes-Benz Patrons Day ahead of The Open. (Credit: Finn Pomeroy/8 Seconds)

The biggest question mark hanging over the next Ryder Cup, which will take place over Bethpage State Park’s notorious Black course next September, is why Team USA is yet to appoint the man who will go toe-to-toe with Donald in New York.

The PGA of America usually names its captain 18 months prior to the tournament, but with as we move ever closer to being just a year out from the teams meeting in New York, there is still no sign of a hire.

And Montgomerie has an idea why.

“I think they’re waiting for Tiger Woods to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’, to be honest,” the 60-year-old explains. “He would be the obvious choice, and it would be perfect for him to do that in New York.

“Whether he wants to do it or not is another matter, but the PGA will be in contact with him. Whether he wants to wait for Ireland as well, with all the friends he has over there, I’m not sure. But he can pick and choose what he wants, really.

“It would suit Tiger to do it, and it’s just a case of waiting for the nod. I would expect him to be the captain. They talked about Stuart Cink, they’ve talked about others that are potential captains, but America want to win it back. They want to that trophy back, badly, and it would be great for the Ryder Cup if he was captain.

“It would be a bigger event, if it could get any bigger, with him as captain.”

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Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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