'You don't sleep at night thinking about the first shot'

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Few Europeans know more about what’s required to win a Ryder Cup than Colin Montgomerie. Steve Carroll asked the winning captain at Celtic Manor about his keys to victory

You were the driving force for many a European challenge over the years. Explain to me the feeling of going out first, leading the charge for a continent and the responsibility that brings?

I think you’ve used the right word: responsibility. I think it is a huge responsibility to go off first. There is no one else (not) watching your game for the first 15 minutes until someone else tees off. So all eyes are on you.

You don’t sleep properly at night thinking about the first shot and, at the same time, it’s a huge responsibility to get blue on the board early – knowing that if the first match is winning, well the second, third and fourth matches can follow suit.

If that first match goes down and it goes red on the board, it gives a bit of momentum to them.

They can say ‘if they’re winning away from home, so can we’. It’s a very, very important game. The first two games are really the most important games of the whole event.

Colin Montgomerie

It must take a certain personality, and a certain type of grit, to do that job effectively…

You’ve got to have the confidence. You want to be there. You can’t back off. You want to enjoy it. You want to enjoy the whole scene.

Put it this way, it’s not for everybody and Thomas Bjorn will have to think about who he is going to put out first in these occasions.

They might be good enough to play for the team but are they good enough to play at one – go out there first and get those points on the board?

I would like to think if I was captain that some of my team would be honest enough with me and say ‘no, I don’t want to play there thanks very much. I am more comfortable at three or four’. Especially in the singles.

It’s ‘Yes I will get you points but I don’t want to be out there, in that limelight, that first game. Throw me in at three, four, five’ and positions in the team where you are not going to win the Ryder Cup but you are not going to lose it either.

It’s difficult to get it all right. It’s a very difficult situation to get that team sheet right.

Colin Montgomerie

What goes in to successfully building a winning Ryder Cup team?

You’ve said it all in the last word there. Team. You’ve got to build a team and it’s not always the best players that make up the best team.

I always thought of Brian Clough and Nottingham Forest. They were never the best players but they were the best team and Bill Shankly’s Liverpool – not the best players but the best team.

A lot of that comes from management, the way that the captain pulls together that team and makes that team work for each other, makes that team play for each other. That’s the key – get them playing for each other. That’s all they have to do.

How difficult was it for Montgomerie to leave Paul Casey out of his team? Interview continues on the next page…

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