Monty to players: Focus on America could endanger your Ryder Cup spot

colin montgomerie
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PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | 2:51 p.m.

Every European star basing himself in the United States -- and that includes Rory McIlroy again next season -- runs the risk of not making the Ryder Cup.

That was the warning from Colin Montgomerie a week before the 2012 qualifying race starts in Switzerland.

Montgomerie found leaving out world No. 9 Paul Casey last year the hardest thing he had to do as captain -- and he hopes his successor Jose Maria Olazabal does not face the same dilemma next August.

"No doubt we'll have a chat on the way round," said Montgomerie, who is paired with Olazabal in the first two rounds of this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Olazabal has opted for only two wild cards instead of Montgomerie's three -- and three did not prove enough to get either Casey or Justin Rose, twice a winner in the States during the qualifying period, into his side.

"I think it surprised us all that a world top-10 player didn't make it and I do hope that Olazabal doesn't have that same issue," Montgomerie said. "I hope it's more cut and dried for him that it was for me and that the two picks are obvious."

However, Montgomerie adds: "If you base yourself in America, you are taking a risk to make the Ryder Cup team, quite simple."

Last year, Casey lost out to rookie Edoardo Molinari after choosing to play in the first leg of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoffs while the Italian birdied the final three holes to win at Gleneagles. Rose, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald were also in the States despite Montgomerie asking them all to fly to Scotland instead.

"I feel that Olazabal will have a stronger representation of Ryder Cup players next year than I did," he said. "It's quite straightforward. If you don't make the top 10 you might not make the team and you can't rely on a pick."

The first five members of the European team for Medinah next year will be based on their European Tour earnings and the next five from their world ranking points during the 12-month race.

Another of the PGA Tour members hoping to make Olazabal's side is leading Scot Martin Laird, currently ranked 25th in the world. But he will not start earning points until January. That is because he did not want to commit to 13 European Tour events this season.

"That's unfortunate for him and for Scottish golf," added Montgomerie.

"At the same time Molinari managed to make the team starting from the Challenge Tour. He proved to the captain – me -- that he was capable of playing the Ryder Cup and it's up to Martin Laird now to do what Edoardo Molinari did.

"Win three times, get as close as he possibly can to qualification and be one of those two picks of Olazabal's if he doesn't qualify,” he said. "I wish him well, of course. It's been 2006 since a Scot has represented the team and that's too long."

Montgomerie was that player himself and, though he is currently down at 285th in the world, the 48-year-old has not given up all hope of earning a ninth appearance.

He is glad just to be back playing this week. His last event was the Scottish Open at the start of last month and after briefly leading it early in the final round he fell back to 31st and so still has not had a top five finish for over three years.