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Page last updated at 06:21 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 07:21 UK

Montgomerie marks Ryder countdown

The Ryder Cup
Europe want to regain the Ryder Cup next year at the Celtic Manor

Exactly one year from today Colin Montgomerie will lead his Europe team out at the Celtic Manor in a bid to wrest the Ryder Cup back from the USA.

For a few short days the world's golfing spotlight will centre on Newport as golf's finest players clash.

"When you talk about the first of October, it links in with Wales, Celtic Manor, Ryder Cup," Montgomerie said.

"Now we are within a year and it's amazing how quickly that year will pass and I look forward to every moment."

Montgomerie admits that so far the bulk of his involvement has involved making decisions on the minutiae of preparations - clothing, bags, waterproofs, shoes, accommodation, locker rooms.

But the Scot, an ever-present Ryder Cup player between 1991 and 2006 who was undefeated in eight singles matches, is now looking forward to team matters.

"We're just ready to look after the team now and view their qualifying process really to see who's going to make that top nine and give me a good idea of who I'm going to select as my chosen three," Montgomerie said.

It's in their own interests to play in [the Wales Open] and... show me what they can do round the Ryder Cup course

Europe captain Colin Montgomerie

Montgomerie's team will comprise the leading four players from the world points list, plus the leading five players - not otherwise qualified from the worlds list - from the European points list.

Those nine automatic selections will be joined by three captain's picks to complete a 12-man squad that will be finalised by the end of next August.

The recent Vivendi Trophy that pitted Britain and Ireland against Continental Europe was an ideal environment for Montgomerie to look at potential players in a team environment.

The 46-year-old made his disappointment known publically that Ian Poulter had pulled out, while other European luminaries such as Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia did not play.

Montgomerie realises that players have many options when it comes to choosing what tournaments to compete in, but has pinpointed three that he hopes potential Ryder Cup players will attend.

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"I have nothing against Ian, I think he's a worldwide player," Montgomerie said.

"It was a message to everybody that... there are three tournaments next year that I would really wish those players that are potential Ryder Cup players and potentially part of my team to participate in.

"One is our flagship event - the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth - the other is the last counting event - which of course is the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles - and the third is the... Wales Open."

The Wales Open is played on the new Twenty Ten course at Celtic Manor that will be used for the Ryder Cup and Montgomerie says his selections may be swayed by one strong showing in the dry run at Newport next June.

"Wouldn't it be great if one of those players, one of those potential candidates, goes to Wales and wins the tournament by 10 shots - it would be very difficult to leave him out!

"It's in their own interests to play in that event and... show me what they can do round the Ryder Cup course."

Welsh golfer Bradley Dredge - currently second in the European points list - has said he is determined to grasp a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to represent Europe on home soil.

The same will be true of Dredge's fellow World Cup-winner Stephen Dodd, while Philip Price - one of Montgomerie's fellow heroes of the 2002 triumph at The Belfry - could possibly figure in the backroom staff.

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However, it may well be that - despite Montgomerie's wishes for a Welshman to force his way to selection - there is no home-soil player in the European team next October.

But the organisers are determined that next year's event will push golfing excellence in Wales to try and ensure that Ryder Cup teams of the future always have a Welsh element.

Andy Morgan, a board member of Ryder Cup Wales 2010 and chairman of Golf Development Wales, wants the event to spark a golfing renaissance.

"When the Ryder Cup was in Spain in Valderamma [in 1997], when they left there, there really wasn't anything left apart from the roadway," Morgan said.

"We were very keen, and the Welsh assembly government was very keen, to have a real legacy from the Ryder Cup.

"The Welsh assembly government put forward a £2m fund that was part of our bid that won the Ryder Cup.

"With that we want to create beginner facilities all around Wales... so it really isn't just the Celtic Manor, this Ryder Cup is going to bring developments throughout the whole of Wales."

Schemes in place include free taster sessions, reduced or free golf lessons and trial memberships to attract more players to the game, while individual golf clubs have been able to access funds to improve facilities.

Despite the Ryder Cup still being 12 months away, golf participation among 11 to 16-year-olds has risen an impressive 70% in the last two years, with juniors and adults up a healthy 20%.

Those figures include a sharp rise in female participation, so the women's Solheim Cup team may also reap future benefits.

The efforts to promote grassroots golf are set to continue for "years" beyond next October, so it seems the future of the game is bright regardless of the result at the Celtic Manor next October.

But if Europe avenge their 16½-11½ defeat in Valhalla to the USA in 2008, the momentum could prove unstoppable.



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see also
Montgomerie wants form Welshman
30 Sep 09 |  Golf
Welsh Ryder Cup excites Bennett
01 Oct 09 |  Golf
Montgomerie unhappy with Poulter
23 Sep 09 |  Golf
McIlroy makes U-turn on Ryder Cup
23 Sep 09 |  Golf
Monty gives Langer Ryder Cup hope
09 Sep 09 |  Golf
Dredge kick-starts Ryder Cup bid
07 Sep 09 |  Golf
Lawrie in mood for Ryder Cup spot
31 Aug 09 |  Golf
Torrance talks up Monty's chances
15 Jul 09 |  Golf
Wales confident of 2010 Ryder Cup
13 May 09 |  Golf
Twenty Ten course in photos
03 Jun 09 |  Golf
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf


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