Misguided or malicious, Monty doesn't have a clue

BY foxsports • March 1, 2010

There's a general rule in golf: if Colin Montgomerie's lips are moving, his Footjoys are sure to end up in his mouth soon after.

I can only imagine the drunken celebrations at pubs all along Fleet Street once Monty was named Ryder Cup captain. Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole! Mon-tee! Mon-tee! At Celtic Manor, he will be the gift that never stops giving to the hounds of the British media.

Monty simply can't help himself; he has a special talent for saying the wrong thing.

Remember his infamous warning to Tiger Woods before the 1997 Masters that "he has things to learn. In the tight situations, his lack of experience will go against him."

How'd that work out?

Montgomerie provided just a taste of things to come later in the year in his weekly English newspaper column when he wrote the following gibberish: "Turning up at Celtic Manor could be one of the hardest things Tiger ever does. He won't worry about hitting the ball, but he will worry about how the wives of the other players will react to him."

"Some of them will be friends with Elin and they will sympathize with her anger and pain.

"Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group.

"I'm sure it is something that the American captain, Corey Pavin, will be giving a lot of thought to."

I'm sure he's not giving any thought to it, Monty.

My guess is that this was the Euro captain's attempt to undermine American camaraderie; either that or Montgomerie's just totally clueless.

But in case he's being earnest, let's get something straight right now: no one cares what the wives and girlfriends of golfers think about golf.

If there's been a trend more disturbing in golf than the return of polyester it's been the elevation of the WAGs as "an important part of the team."

At both Ryder and Presidents Cup matches, they're no longer just accessories who keep manicurists busy at the spa. They've come to believe they're actually somehow important to the outcome. That their rah-rah cheerleading might in some way be worth a point in a match.

The only time I can recall that this was even remotely true was at Brookline a decade ago.

When Justin Leonard drained that putt, you could argue that the WAGs had something to do with the outcome because they charged onto the green when Jose Maria Olazabal still had a 20 footer to tie the hole. It was the grossest violation of etiquette in a sport which perceives itself to be honorable and gentlemanly I can remember.

But instead of putting the WAGs behind the ropes, where they are at every other golf tournament, they've instead been indulged ever more with each passing event. What's next? A tie broken by a WAG beauty contest?

In his column, Monty didn't stop at the WAGs. He took a couple more swings at Woods.

"We know the Ryder Cup is not Tiger's favorite event," he wrote.

"I expect him to be playing by then but that doesn't mean he will play at Celtic Manor. It must be very difficult for Corey with his No. 1 in limbo.

"It will be even more difficult for Tiger. I wasn't sure how to take his statement. I watched it with my wife Gaynor in Perth and it seemed a bit odd when he hugged his mum and everyone else just sat there. The timing was unusual as well, in the middle of a tournament.

"But Tiger may not be thinking straight now. I remember when I was on the front pages. I felt alone and anxious. These things can throw you off center."

And so can having a seven iron into the last hole to set up a routine two-putt par to win the US Open.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Pavin whether he thought Woods would be able to handle the grief he's likely to get from the lubricated galleries in Wales.

"If there's anybody on this planet that can handle any situation on the golf course, it would be Tiger Woods," the U.S. captain said.

"He is as mentally tough as anybody I've ever seen in my life, and I don't expect for there to be any problems anyway."

Davis Love III, who's been named by Pavin as an assistant, echoed those sentiments.

"I've played matches with him. Nothing bothers him on the golf course," he said.

In honor of Monty, I’m closing this column with my favorite story about him, told by Steve Elkington.

Elkington, who beat Montgomerie in the 1995 PGA Championship and has disliked him ever since, had to play him a few months after that win at the World Match Play event at Wentworth in England.

"We're having lunch in the clubhouse there, which is a castle," Elkington told Golf Digest.

"(His wife) Lisa and I are eating a little sandwich off in the corner.

"Monty has maybe 25 people at his table, royalty and all, with a fabulous buffet.

"Part of the spread is this huge custard castle, a replica of the one we're eating in.

"So Monty gets up and goes toward the custard, and he wiped out the whole west side of the clubhouse, an entire custard wing including maybe part of the locker room.

"I think to myself, 'Isn't that nice of Monty, scooping up all that custard for all those people at his table to share?' Well, damned if he doesn't sit down and eat the whole thing himself.

"I turned to Lisa and said, 'There ain't a man alive who can eat that much custard and beat me.' I won, 2 and 1."

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