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Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie hopes to play the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George's but isn't sure he'll make it back to St. Andrews the next time the Old Course hosts the event. (Getty Images)

His British Open done, Montgomerie turns his attention to Ryder Cup

Colin Montgomerie was happy to play four rounds this week, but not happy with his putting. He is, however, very pleased with the strong play of several of his potential team members.

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (PA) -- European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie joked that he should walk the plank for his performances in the British Open this week.

The 47-year-old Scot shot a final-round 73 Sunday to finish 4 over for the 139th edition of the tournament, and with the event not likely to return to the Home of Golf for another five years at least, he admits it could be his last on the famous Old Course.

However, unlike former champions Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, who paused on the 18th's iconic Swilcan Bridge to receive the applause on their final appearances, Montgomerie said it was never a consideration for him.

"I'll never pause on the bridge -- that is only for winners," said the eight-time European No. 1, whose best Open performance came at St. Andrews five years ago, when he was a good second as the imperious Tiger Woods won his second Claret Jug.

"There is sort of a plank on the right-hand side and I should walk across that and not use the bridge,” he laughed. "This will probably be my last Open here as I'll be 52 when it comes back here, if it does come back here.

"Having to go down to Sunningdale and qualify at 52 would be a better effort than doing it at 47 (as he did this year for a 21st successive Open appearance),” he added. "That is my fifth Open here and I've enjoyed them all and I look forward to playing next year down at Royal St George's."

Montgomerie was hugely disappointed with his display this week, blaming his putting for most, if not all, his problems.

"My performance doesn't take long to analyze. I didn't putt well," he said. "I'm getting fearful on the greens -- why I don't know because I'm hitting the ball as hard as I used to, but the ball is not going in.

"The belly putter (he turned to for his opening round) was lucky it lasted a day,” he said. "It doesn't matter what implement is used, it unfortunately is the person using it who is to blame. To play four days is always important, but it is disappointing I never competed or contended here in any shape or form."

Montgomerie must now turn his attention back to Ryder Cup matters, with an announcement due on Tuesday as to who his vice-captains will be at Celtic Manor in October. He was also watching with interest the form of a number of his players, several of whom had put in promising performances this week.

"I am pleased to see some of the big European names playing well," he added. "Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey are not in the team right now and they have got big days ahead of them. "They are not probably interested in the Ryder Cup right now because they are trying to win the Open, but I am.

"I would like as many of my so-called big hitters in there so I don't have to 'waste' picks on those particular stars and I can use my picks as I would like them,” he explained. "Casey and Martin Kaymer can seal their spots today and Henrik can make a big leap forward. Sergio Garcia has shown a bit of form now and if he can post something low and prove to me and his peers that he is still there to enable himself to get picked, then great."

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