Ryder Cup will open with fourballs, as Montgomerie follows proven tactic

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Colin Montgomerie's choice of fourballs to start the Ryder Cup is rooted in Europe's recent success.
By
Mark Garrod
PA Sport

Series:

Colin Montgomerie has finally revealed one of his Ryder Cup decisions -- not who will be handed a wild card, but how the match will start.

And following the lead of Seve Ballesteros, who considered it one of the masterstrokes of his 1997 success when he changed the format at Valderrama, Montgomerie has gone for fourballs first at Celtic Manor on Oct. 1.

Europe's four victories in the last six matches have all come with the opening session being fourballs -- and America's two wins came when Ben Crenshaw in 1999 and Paul Azinger two years ago reverted to foursomes first.

Hal Sutton chose not to do that at Oakland Hills in 2004 and lost.

Surprisingly perhaps, Montgomerie was leaning towards foursomes earlier in the year, but with at least five untested players likely to be in his line-up -- Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Francesco Molinari are certainties, Peter Hanson is on course to join them and Simon Dyson or Alvaro Quiros could yet make it six -- he has gone for the safer option.

"Foursomes is the most difficult form of golf and I had a gut feeling it might favor us this time, but it's easier to get new caps involved straightaway in fourballs," he said. "Recent results also suggest it works better for us, so that's what I went for when I signed the captains’ agreement."

Montgomerie's decision increases the chances of Northern Ireland natives Graeme McDowell and McIlroy kicking things off for Europe. Both have expressed that wish after winning all three games when they led the way for Britain and Ireland against Continental Europe last September in the Seve Trophy matchs.

As for the three wild cards, they will be named on Sunday evening after the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.