October 9, 2014 / 8:39 PM / in 3 years

Focus should be on Ryder Cup players, not captain: Monty

CARY North Carolina (Reuters) - Colin Montgomerie feels the United States should be more focused on changing its player qualification system for the 2016 Ryder Cup rather than fret about who captains the team.

Colin Montgomerie of Britain watches his shot from the third tee during the first round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Course in Dubai February 9, 2012. REUTERS/ Nikhil Monteiro

While there has been plenty of discussion about revamping the method by which the captain is chosen in the wake of another American defeat, the former European Ryder Cup captain maintains that getting the best players on the team is most important.

“Being a European, we’re very happy with what we tend to do,” Montgomerie told reporters on Thursday on the eve of the SAS Championship on the over-50 Champions Tour.

”But having lost eight out of the last 10 Ryder Cups, you would feel the PGA (of America) would have to change things somehow (as far as choosing the players).

“Is it a two-year process, a one-year process, is it 12 picks for the captain, is it the (top) 12 in the world rankings?”

The Scot, who captained the victorious European team at the 2010 Ryder Cup, was critical of American player Phil Mickelson’s thinly-veiled attack of 2014 U.S. captain Tom Watson during a post-event news conference in Scotland two weeks ago.

While Mickelson has subsequently received plenty of support for his comments, particularly his desire to mimic the European system of surrounding the captain with past and future captains, Montgomerie remains critical of Mickelson’s timing.

“The timing of what he said really was wrong,” said Montgomerie, who is part of a five-man panel that will select Europe’s 2016 captain early next year.

And Montgomerie, who has implied that the importance of the captain at a Ryder Cup was overrated, doesn’t think it matters so much who is the next American captain.

He points out that he might have been a losing captain four years ago if one of his players, Graeme McDowell, had not pulled out a great victory in his singles match against Hunter Mahan on the final day.

”You talk about this great European template all you like (but) I never saw it when I was captain. If it wasn’t for (McDowell’s victory), we might have been looking for America’s template.

“We happen to have putted better than the American team over the last few Ryder Cups and that’ why we’ve won. Why we have done that, I‘m not sure (but) eight out of 10 is beyond a coincidence so there must be something that’s either very, very good with us or not so with the American set-up.”

Editing by Frank Pingue

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