Colin Montgomerie: Let the mind games begin

Ryder Cup 2010 (1)To anyone that’s played the game competitively golf is arguably the sport that demands the most in terms of confidence and being at peace with yourself and others. European captain, Colin Montgomerie, knows this and isn’t taking any chances on the rumours and evidence that Tiger’s game has, or is, coming around.

I don’t think anyone seriously believes the wives and/or girlfriends of US or European Ryder Cup players are at risk with Tiger in the fray.

Okay, that’s not exactly what Monty said, but he did say “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 sympathise with her anger and pain. Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group.

Don’t kid yourself, that statement isn’t aimed at anyone other than Tiger. It’s designed to spur an anti-Tiger sentiment among would-be heckling fans just as much as it’s intended to plague Tiger himself. It’s a cheap shot and unbecoming of a Ryder Cup Captain. Moreover it’s evidence the Euro-Captain is worried, and before even the first swing of the club three days away he is reduced to the level of relying on tactics other than superior play. Quite pathetic in my view.

Frankly, if one aspect of the Ryder Cup format is likely to impact Tiger it’s not the one Montgomerie is attempting to conjure. Rather it is the team versus individual component of the competition.

Since his return Tiger’s underperformance has been mostly between himself and, well, himself. No one other than Tiger has suffered from his comparative lesser performance. For all that is “individual” about the game of golf I believe Tiger, more than any other player on the US squad, is concerned about how his individual level of play bears on the team’s overall performance. That, and not the opinion of wives and girlfriends, is what I believe stands between Tiger having a great versus only a good Ryder Cup.

Bottom line, will Tiger prevail?

Make no mistake, both on and off the golf course Tiger has his work cut out for him this week at Celtic Manor including battling the kinds of daemons people like Colin Montgomerie have no shame in summoning. However, those kinds of comments too can just as easily backfire and become a motivating factor for golf’s number 1 player.

To answer the question, yes, in this order, the US will defend its title as Ryder Cup champions and yes Tiger will be a positive and contributing team member. I also think being immersed in a team winning environment will be good for Tiger.

Far from being made to feel unwelcome, the opposite is more likely. In a few months or early next season I believe we will look back at the 2010 Ryder Cup as the pinnacle event that brought Tiger back in, and under, the larger tent.

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