WITH the number of top-class players he had at his disposal, there was always going to be controversy and the odd surprise in Colin Montgomerie’s three wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup.
Indeed, the fact that the new world No8, Paul Casey, couldn’t force his way into Monty’s thoughts for Celtic Manor just goes to show what a tough a decision it was for the European team captain.
To be honest, though, Monty’s three picks of Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Edoardo Molinari weren’t entirely a surprise.
There was no way he could leave out Molinari after his magnificent performance in the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles at the weekend, while three-time Major winner Harrington is his Tiger Woods, his big-game player for the big occasion.
It basically left Monty with a choice between the three Englishmen of Donald, Casey and Justin Rose, and there was certainly a big case for each.
Whether either would have helped their case but playing at Gleneagles in front of Monty at the weekend, I don’t know, although Monty himself admitted that their decision to stay Stateside and compete for FedEx Cup points didn’t go against them.
I just happen to think he went for Donald for his three European Tour appearances this season, which included a win in Madrid and a second place in the Welsh Open, which was played on the Ryder Cup course at Celtic Manor.
Birdieing each of the last three holes to claw back a two-shot deficit and clinch a Ryder Cup place must have been a dream come true for Molinari, who now becomes a major part of Monty’s set-up – not least because it reunites the World Cup-winning partnership with his brother Francesco.
While Casey, Donald and Rose did no harm to their claims for Ryder Cup spots in the Barclays event at the weekend, it was left to Scot Martin Laird to fly the flag for the Brits.
He put in a tremendous performance, only to be robbed of a famous maiden victory by an unfortunate three-putt on the first hole of a play-off with Matt Kuchar.