After The PGA of America rocked the golf world by anointing Tom Watson as U.S. Ryder Cup captain for 2014, observers immediately began speculating that Europe would need to respond with an equally large presence.
Paul McGinley of Ireland and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland are considered the front-runners for the job, which the Europeans are set to discuss during the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship later this month. But in the wake of Watson’s appointment, Colin Montgomerie’s name began cropping up.
Despite what can best be described as a lack of respect from many golf fans in the United States, Monty has one of the all-time great Ryder Cup records, amassing a 20-9-7 record that includes an unblemish slate in the singles. He trails only Nick Faldo on the European career points list, sank the putts the clinched the golden chalice in both 1997 and 2004, and captained the Europeans to victory in 2010 at Celtic Manor.
Even so – or perhaps because of all that – one very interested observer believes there's no chance that Monty would accept a return engagement as captain.
"It would be madness for him," said Padraig Harrington in an interview with Reuters. "He's had a great Ryder Cup playing career, he's been a successful captain. Why risk all that?
"I can't see in any shape or form him agreeing to do it again," added Harrington, who believes that Montgomerie would be risking his golf legacy by coming back.
"I had a long chat with Monty the evening we won the Ryder Cup in 2010," he said. "I could see the relief Colin had when he won. I don't think he quite realized until then the enormity of being captain for him. Most players who take the captaincy, whether they win or lose, it doesn't change people's perception of their overall career.
Montgomerie's reputation, however, is based on his eight European Tour money titles and his Ryder Cup performances, explained Harrington, who has played on six Ryder Cup teams.
"By taking the captaincy he's putting far more on the line than anybody else because it would be hard to mention that he's unbeaten in the singles in the competition but, oh, he's also a losing captain as well," he said. "That would take the shine off his great record."
For his part, Harrington hopes his fellow Irishman McGinley gets the captaincy for 2014 in Scotland and Clarke is in charge for 2016 at Hazeltine.
"I think Darren would be a better captain in America because of his stature over there. McGinley would be a better option to go up against Watson," he told Reuters. "He can't match Watson in terms of his stature in the game -- nobody can do that. The only way McGinley would tackle a Ryder Cup is to knuckle down and do his own business and organize things. He would be ideal for Gleneagles."