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Golf

Colin Montgomerie backs young Scots to seize their Ryder Cup chance

Steve Scott
The 2010 European Ryder Cup Team captained by Colin Montgomerie.

Scotland’s new generation must seize their opportunity to play in the Ryder Cup in Italy next year says Colin Montgomerie, and he’s backing them to do it.

Monty was famously a Ryder Cup star and winning captain of Europe in 2010. But only he, Paul Lawrie (1999 and 2012) and Stephen Gallacher (2014) have flown the Saltire in the European team in the last 25 years.

This time both Robert MacIntyre and Ewen Ferguson, winners on the DP World Tour this year, are well in the mix for selection. Both will play in the Hero Cup in the Gulf in Abu Dhabi in January, which will act as a “practice run” for Europe’s captain Luke Donald.

But Monty believes that the new wave of young Scots – MacIntyre, Ferguson, Calum Hill, Grant Forrest and Connor Syme – all have the capability to thrive in this environment.

‘What we have in Scotland now is fantastic’

“What we have in Scotland now is fantastic,” said Monty, speaking in his ambassador role for bunkered magazine’s Golf Breaks.  “We’ve been through a bit of a lull in recent years to be honest.

“Now we’re pulling out it with wins this year by Bob and Ewen, but also recently from Calum Hill and Grant Forrest.

“Now it’s their job to win again. To get from that top 20 in Europe to the top 10. You’re a Ryder Cup player for sure then.

“It’s really important for them to keep going and to improve, and to want to get there. Bob and Ewen are right on the cusp of the team now. Wouldn’t it be great to have two Scots in there battling?”

MacIntyre’s Italian Open win on the Ryder Cup host course in Rome was a huge boost to his candidacy, added Monty.

“Bob winning on that golf course which will stand him in very good stead for selection. I mean he did it beating Matt Fitzpatrick, the US Open champion.

“Let’s hope we get some Scottish involvement in Rome, we haven’t had that in the Ryder Cup for the last eight years.”

Rookies’ performance is crucial

If the Scots make it, as rookies, their part in the team is likely to be crucial, he added.

“Any rookie that comes on into that team room gets backed,” he said. “When I was a rookie, that team room had Faldo, Langer, Seve.

“Now these youngsters can look up to the likes of Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy. Fitzpatrick is now a major winner, Viktor Hovland, a world star.

“Tommy Fleetwood’s won again recently. That’s a foundation for a strong team right there. Without even mentioning Molinari, Justin Rose or the guys coming through.

“It’s important we get the rookies right, in the right frame of mind because a lot of it does come down to them in the end.

“When we won at The Belfry in 2002 under Sam (Torrance), not one rookie lost a singles match. They were Paul McGinley, Pierre Fulke, Niclas Fasth and Philip Price. Those performances is why we won that Ryder Cup.

“Whatever the senior guys do, and it’s very important they lead by example, it’s bringing the rookies through that is key for Luke Donald to look at.

“All we have to do is play to our ability, we didn’t at Whistling Straits. If we do that in Italy we have every chance of winning.”

‘We’ve got a much better chance than some think’

And Donald as captain is an excellent choice after the unfortunate situation with Henrik Stenson this summer, added Montgomerie.

“Luke Donald was one of my picks when I was captain in 2010,” he continued. “I’d already played with Luke in the 2004 and 2006 teams.

“It’s not just his ability on the course, although with his foursomes record he was easy to play with. But he was a super bloke off it, in the team rooms. There was no-one in my team that didn’t want to play with Luke Donald.

“That will transcend into his captaincy. I think we’re in very safe hands now and with eight/nine months to go, the European team is shaping up extremely well.

“We have a fantastic record in Europe, not having lost at home for nigh on 30 years now. The last time we lost was 1993 in the Belfry. An incredible record, something we’re very proud of, and let’s hope we can hang on to it.

“I really believe we’ve got a much better chance of winning this Ryder Cup than some people seem to think.”

Colin Montgomerie is ambassador for bunkered Golf Breaks, to discover more of his course recommendations visit bunkeredgolfbreaks.com