LONDON (Reuters) - European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said winning the 2010 team event would be like capturing the major title that has always eluded him.
The 46-year-old Briton has been a major championship runner-up five times and often labelled as one of the best golfers never to have won the British or U.S. Opens, the U.S. Masters or U.S. PGA.
“It (the Ryder Cup) has been a major part of my career and my life and hopefully the result goes our way and it will be my own major, albeit without hitting a golf shot,” Montgomerie said in an interview with Sky Sports.
“You can’t be a runner-up at the Ryder Cup. Winning it would be the icing on the cake of my career, my so-called major win.”
Montgomerie has a proud playing record in the biennial team event, having never lost a singles match in eight appearances.
At the Celtic Manor course in Wales in October, the Scot will be hoping to wrest the trophy back from skipper Corey Pavin’s U.S. holders.
Montgomerie believes 20-year-old Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy could have a big impact on the outcome.
”I rate him (McIlroy) very highly,“ the captain added. ”Apart from Tiger Woods, if I was to pay money to watch a golfer play it would be Rory.
”The way he hits through the ball, the way he plays the game, his passion for the game, I think it’s tremendous.
“He is only 20 but here is a man with a big, big future. I‘m just lucky he’s European and he’ll be on my team,” Montgomerie said.
The eight-times European order of merit winner has had the occasional dispute with the flamboyant Englishman Ian Poulter in the past but said he would welcome the world’s 12th ranked player into his team with open arms.
“He has become a confident young man and I want confident people in my team,” Montgomerie added.
”I would talk to him beforehand to integrate him into the team unity more than possibly he has before, encourage him to be playing for the team that particular week.
“I want all egos left at the door as they arrive on the Monday. I don’t want one big ego in that team, I want them all to play for each other.”
Poulter was selected on the team as a wildcard in 2008 and justified then captain Nick Faldo’s confidence in him by emerging as Europe’s leading performer with four points out of five.
“The Americans don’t want to be playing Ian Poulter,” Montgomerie said.
“He is a very good golfer, a great putter and I think his matchplay strength means he will be a very difficult man to beat.”
Montgomerie is also looking forward to the possibility of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari featuring in his side after the Italian brothers won the World Cup in November.
“The Molinaris have done so, so well ... (Francesco) especially has become a very good player,” said the Scot.
”I was watching him at the Vivendi Trophy (team event) last year and was very impressed. To win the World Cup together was a stunning achievement.
“I was watching them and if I‘m the first to captain brothers in the Ryder Cup I’ll be thrilled. They will be an obvious pairing too.”
Editing by John O'Brien