Colin Montgomerie is not a bad man. But he is a proud man, a man with an ego. You don’t get to the top in professional golf without one. But beneath the soft underbelly there’s a cutting edge there. The edge that got him all those Ryder Cup singles wins, the edge that made him a feared Captain. That cutting edge is double sided though, and is capable of inflicting damage to his own if he doesn’t get his way. Monty is Rooster Cogburn in True Grit; armed and ready, undoubtedly heroic, but of questionable character.
Monty didn’t win a Major during his career but he did become one of the most feared European players in Ryder history. That’s his thing, that’s his shtick. The media made him Mr. Ryder Cup and he was happy to run with it. His Captaincy in Wales further enhanced his credentials. And sharpened that edge.
Even though the unwritten rule amongst the players clique says that the days of one man Captaining a team twice are gone such is the waiting list, Monty, in his hearts of hearts is bursting to do it all again. And why wouldn’t he? It is human nature to want to relive great moments in life, to want to be in the limelight, to be in the thick of the action again, to crave the adulation, to want to stay relevant. Like The Rooster.
Montgomerie also knows the story and he sees Darren, Paul, Thomas, Paul, Padraig and co in the queue. He’s not openly canvassing for the job. Yet he his. By making statements, by planting doubt, by not backing anyone else, by being very political when asked about it. It’s killing Monty that he can’t make like Vladamir Putin or Robert Mugabe and change the rules so that he can stay in charge forever.
In South Africa yesterday, Monty, just one eye patch short of The Rooster, said “I've always said that we need the best man for the job, whoever that is….and if we're going for the best man for the job then that doesn't say you shouldn't do it again.” And you know he’s not talking about Bernard Gallagher, Tony Jacklin, Woosie or Torrance.
Monty now works part-time as an analyst for Sky Sports and having done a crash course in media, he’s well aware of the wound his words can inflict on the face of the Ryder Cup debate. With only days to go before the Captaincy is decided, he’s got his horse saddled. Just in case.
He’s quickly becoming a master in planting doubt in people’s mind by using something an unnamed someone else said; “I thought it was between Darren and Paul until Darren said something, then my name was mentioned”. Slick.
Yes indeed Monty is the real life the Rooster Cogburn, in the face of insurmountable odds, the only man who can go out and get the bad guy. “I've never canvassed, as I didn't last time. I've not spoken to anybody about this. But I've always felt that if I was asked I would do it and that's still the case.”
Anyone who’s seen the Rooster knows that his services always cost. Monty at the helm again would cost too. And I’m not talking about money. If Monty does ride off into the Sunset at the end of this with a lifeless Tom Watson draped over the back of his saddle, yes he will have won the day, but the wounds inflicted on his own side along the way will be tough to patch up.