I can hear the sound of knives being sharpened, knives that could be taken to Colin Montgomerie’s throat if he captains a losing Ryder Cup team.
Padraig Harrington could do a lot to make sure those knives don’t slash Monty to pieces should Europe lose at Celtic Manor. He needs to deliver a good Ryder Cup performance or Monty is going to feel like a giant pincushion.
Make no mistake about it, like Nick Faldo before him, Monty will take a beating if Europe loses. Especially if Harrington plays poorly.
The Irishman is the most controversial of Monty’s three wild-cards picks. He’s had a horrible season. More importantly, he failed to deliver at the last two Ryder Cups. Had he played to his potential at Valhalla in 2008, then Europe might have won the match.
Many people think Paul Casey or Justin Rose would have been a better selection than Harrington. Rose would have made sense since he is the perfect partner for Ian Poulter. They won two of three matches at Valhalla.
Casey’s record in the last two Ryder Cups is far superior to Harrington’s. Besides, he’s been to the finals the past two years at the WGC Accenture World Match Play Championship, he’s won the World Match Play on this side of the pond, and he’s the No. 8 player in the world.
On form, Casey was the better choice. Monty is banking on that old chestnut that says “form is temporary, class is permanent.”
To be fair, Monty did not have an easy job in making his wild-card selections, thanks largely to Harrington, Casey, Rose and Luke Donald. The avaricious four should have done a lot more to make the team, which would have helped Monty’s cause.
Since they chose to chase the dollar rather than the honor of playing for Europe, Monty was left with the worst possible scenario.
I think if I had been in his position I might just have put Harrington, Casey and Rose’s names in a hat and made a blind draw, since a case can be made for each.
Harrington would have had strong backers in vice captains Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley. Monty and Harrington also are former Ryder Cup partners, and that might have favored the Irishman over the other two.
It might also have come down to personality. Harrington might have three majors while Casey has none, but he does not possess the same ego as the Englishman. Harrington will fit in better in the team room than Casey. As for Rose, well, he gets along with everyone. He has no problems on the ego front.
As we saw with Nick Faldo’s captaincy, Ryder Cup experience doesn’t always translate into success. Faldo was a mess at Valhalla two years ago, from the opening to the closing ceremony. We’ll have to wait and see how Monty measures up.
Harrington isn’t the only decision that might backfire on Monty. Taking Sergio Garcia as one of his vice captains is a risky play, too. Sergio is almost as unpopular on the European Tour as he is on the PGA Tour. Monty might spend the week hoping Sergio doesn’t get too overzealous and spark an incident.
So Monty is on the hook for at least two key decisions he’s made so far. And we haven’t even seen his pairing or his singles draw.
Listen. Can you hear that noise? It’s the sound of blades on whetstones. If you look hard enough you might even see the sparks.