MONTY’S MEMORIES OFFER ASIA SOME COMFORT


Colin Montgomerie re-lived the memories of his worst Ryder Cup experience as he urged Asia’s golfers not to feel despondent over their Royal Trophy defeat.

The Asian Team looked close to despair as Montgomerie’s European stars staged an incredible comeback to win the Royal Trophy 9-7 after starting the final day’s Singles trailing 6-2.

Their 7-1 Singles success came just 24 hours after Asia had completed a historic clean sweep in the Four-balls to establish themselves as hot favourites to repeat their 2009 triumph.

That made this defeat even more heartbreaking for Asia Captain Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki and his players, but Montgomerie recalled how Europe had also squandered a four point lead in the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline as America dominated the Singles to win 14 ½ – 13 ½.

He said: “That ranks as easily my worst Ryder Cup experience, because quite apart from the bad feeling and the crowd problems there, it was a horrible feeling to see such a big lead slip away.

“So I know how the Asian players will be feeling at the moment, but the important thing is how they react to this defeat. We lost the first six matches, all by big margins, so that was very tough to take.

“But we became even more determined and went on to win the next three Ryder Cups, two of them by record nine point margins. So even though everyone associated with the Asian Royal Trophy Team will be feeling like it is the end of the world, I can assure them it isn’t.

“It is all about how you respond to setbacks like that, and if the Asian Team grows stronger as a result of what they are going through, the feelings of despondency will soon be forgotten.

“They should recall how well they played to establish that 6-2 lead; especially in the Four-balls, where they were simply unstoppable.

“And although a 7-1 margin in the Singles looks awful on paper; that does not really reflect just how close a lot of the matches were. Half of the eight matches went down to the final hole – and in every one of them Europe birdied the hole, while Asia managed only one birdie.

“If that outcome had been reversed, Asia would have won the Royal Trophy, and not us. Two other matches were decided with winning European birdies on the 17th, including my own game, so it really was a very fine line between triumph and despair.”

Montgomerie also used a conversation he had with Johan Edfors to illustrate how invaluable match play experience would prove, especially for Asian players far less accustomed to that format.

He explained: “I talked to Johan about his match with Thongchai Jaidee, where he was three up at the turn and then seemed to go into his shell a bit.

“It is always difficult to know what to do in those situations. Do you keep playing aggressively, or do you try to defend what you have got and let your opponent make mistakes?

“I felt Johan became a little defensive, and that helped Thongchai force a half, although he did so by playing some outstanding golf.

“But my point to Johan was that you should always think about what got you into that strong position in the first place, and not be tempted to change your game plan.

“It is the same in football. A 1-0 or 2-0 lead is not always a winning position – but get a bit further in front and you really are in the box seat.

“My point is that you only appreciate that fully if you have actually been in that situation, and the Asian players are gaining that vital experience all the time. They will have learned a few lessons from this defeat that will serve them well in the future.

“There is no doubt Asian golf is far stronger than it was four or five years ago, and once they become a bit more battle-hardened in team match play they really will be a handful for any European Team.”

Montgomerie enjoyed his second Royal Trophy appearance even more than his first stint as playing Captain in 2010, which he reckons was invaluable to him when he took on the Ryder Cup captaincy last October.

He added: “My first Royal Trophy was wonderful preparation for the Ryder Cup, and I just think it has enormous potential for growth and expansion.

“I would love the opportunity to captain Europe here again next year, to try to make it three in a row. I’m still unbeaten as a European captain, although all three of my matches in charge have been incredibly tight and well-contested.

“I will speak to George O’Grady, the head of the European Tour, about what a great Event this is. I don’t know what the politics of this situation are, but we will get this Tournament sanctioned by the European Tour. It is only right that it should be.

“This was such a dramatic Event, and it must have captivated spectators and viewers all over the world. It was an enthralling spectacle and a fantastic match, played in an exemplary spirit.

“Even though the result went against the Asian Team, the match can only help the growth of golf in this area, just as Seve Ballesteros predicted it would when he came up with the concept for this Competition.

“I know it is a cliché, but golf was the big winner at the Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, and congratulations to everyone in Thailand and further afield who organised such a wonderful Event.

“This was a remarkable Competition, and it further emphasizes the wonderful Event that this has become, and all credit to Seve for putting this together. This Tournament has fantastic potential to grow, into a really, big event and it deserves to be that way.”

“Colin Montgomerie has demonstrated tremendous determination and leadership in steering the European Team into this amazing victory;” stated Lincoln Venancio, the Royal Trophy Managing Director.

“We sincerely congratulate him;” concluded Lincoln Venancio.

The Royal Trophy is organized in Thailand by and under authority of the Sports Authority of Thailand. The Championship is co-organized in Thailand by the Prachuap Khirikhan Province, the Hua Hin Municipality and Entertainment and Sports Co., Ltd. The Competition’s international promoter is Entertainment Group Limited.

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