ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Corey Pavin would probably love to have Colin Montgomerie’s problem.
With just over two months to go until the Ryder Cup, European captain Montgomerie is probably happier about how his team is shaping up than counterpart Corey Pavin. The Scot has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, as this Open Championship proved.
Ten potential European team members finished in the top 14. Lee Westwood finished second; Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey third; Martin Kaymer was seventh; and Alvaro Quiros and Luke Donald were just outside the top 10 in 11th. Sergio Garcia, Robert Karlsson and Ignacio Garrido finished joint 14th.
“I’ve got some headaches, but I’ve also got some good headaches,” Montgomerie said. “I can pick two teams here that can beat each other on any given day. That’s the strength and that’s the depth of European golf.
“We’ve had our first British winner of the U.S. Open for 40 years. In any form of business, and this is one, if standards rise the competition has to follow suit, which is great for me.”
Westwood is a lock to play at Celtic Manor in October. McIlroy is too. As the sun set on the Old Course, these two occupied the nine automatic spots along with U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ross McGowan.
Casey has played in the last three matches. He could have cemented his place in the European side by winning the Open. Even finishing second on his own would have improved his chances of receiving an automatic pick, and not having to rely on one of Montgomerie’s three captain’s picks.
“I need to get on the team,” Casey said. “We’re going to have an unbelievable team. It doesn’t guarantee victory, but I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Casey isn’t the only one on the outside looking in. Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose, Stenson, Garcia, Karlsson, Ross Fisher, Quiros and Edoardo Molinari currently are not on Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
Montgomerie is going to have a tough choice when it comes to his picks.
“This is my huge dilemma,” he said. “I don’t think any captain has had this dilemma before. I unfortunately am going to have to leave out some very, very good players, some winners in this year’s circuit in America and/or in Europe. But unfortunately I’ve got to because of the strength and depth that we have.”
A European might not have won the 139th Open Championship, but for Colin Montgomerie, it sure seemed that way.