Doug Ferguson reviews the history between lovebirds Faldo and Monty and concludes that if the round Scot wants to play at Valhalla before his self-appointed captaincy in 2010, he better play himself onto the team.
Montgomerie has played in every Ryder Cup since 1991. His 23 1/2 points are second only to Faldo and Bernhard Langer. He has never lost a singles match, and one more singles victory would break the Ryder Cup record he shares with the likes of Faldo, Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead.
Yet, that won’t assure him a spot on the team, especially not with Faldo as the captain.
They were contemporaries, but rarely rivals. Montgomerie narrowly beat him to capture his first Order of Merit in 1993, but Faldo spent the rest of his decade focusing on the PGA Tour, the toughest tour in golf, where Monty never won.
Their social relationship began to slide in 1999, two weeks before the Ryder Cup. Faldo was at the Canadian Open when he was asked why Montgomerie, who was on his way to a seventh consecutive Order of Merit, had never tried to spend a full season on the PGA Tour.
“I’m surprised he hasn’t thought of doing something different as a challenge,” Faldo said. “But hell, I think he likes to earn his fat checks each week, which is no harm in that, I guess. If you’re motivated by that. A few are. Most of us go for 10 Claret Jugs.”
Montgomerie was hurt. European captain Mark James was so outraged that when Faldo wrote the team a note wishing them well, James tore it up and tossed it in the trash.
One of the most amazing transformations in golf was from Faldo, the prickly superstar with few words and even fewer friends, to Faldo, the golf analyst with a dry wit who can’t stop talking. He probably would host infomercials if Golf Channel would let him.
Being a captain makes him competitive again.
“My days of winning majors have gone, and now this is the biggest project in my golf career right now,” he said. “So yes, it’s very important to me.”
There is an aura about Faldo that appeals to a younger generation — Paul Casey, Nick Dougherty, Luke Donald — who grew up with Faldo as the face of European golf. His contemporaries, such as Torrance and James, have experienced the selfish side of Nasty Nick.
But they won’t be playing for him.
And if Montgomerie doesn’t make the team on his own, he might not be, either.