Celtic Manor: European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has resisted the urge to tinker with the Celtic Manor course even if it means drastically reducing home field advantage.
The 47-year-old Scot said he wanted the course to be fair to both Europe and defending champions America, even though two of his predecessors, Sam Torrance (2002) and Ian Woosnam (2006), did tweak the layouts.
“There’s a so-called home course advantage that can be used by a home team,” said Montgomerie, who has accrued 23.5 points in his eight Ryder Cup appearances as a player, just 1.5 short of the European record of Sir Nick Faldo.
“On this occasion, I haven’t played around with the golf course at all. This course is set up in a very, very fair manner to allow the best team to win.
“I don’t think it was right to set the course up in any other way than to what it’s been designed for; it’s a great, great golf course and it’s in super condition.”
Montgomerie, who was never beaten in the eight Ryder Cup singles matches he contested, said that too much was made of the home captain ordering adjustments.
It’s an opinion which is in stark contrast to 2008 US captain Paul Azinger who instructed Valhalla officials to widen fairways, trim rough and even trim trees to suit his big hitters.
“I’ve left the course to allow the best team to win here this week,” added Montgomerie.
“I think sometimes you can get yourself in a muddle by thinking that this is going to favour one team, and then the wind direction changes or something happens and of course it favours the other.
“Mother Nature will keep the greens at a certain pace. So I feel the course is very fair. I’m very happy with the setup.
“This course will be the fairest test for many a year, and I’m very happy with the set up for my team.”
Montgomerie said that the course itself was a typical European Tour layout.
“Well, hence to our advantage, if it is a European Tour setup. I was hardly going to have a US Tour setup,” said Montgomerie.
“So it is a very fair test of golf, and something that our European Tour players will be used to in the pace of greens.
“A good shot will be rewarded and a bad shot will be penalized and that I think is the game of golf and that is what it should be. We are due for some breeze over Friday, Saturday, Sunday I see, average of about 10 to 15 miles an hour, which I think the course setup will favour.
“I think it’s not too tough, and yet it’s tough enough”
His American counterpart Corey Pavin, who played in three Ryder Cups, including two winning teams and the last one to win on European soil at The Belfry in 1993, said that he respected Montgomerie’s decision.
“I’m glad it’s set up fairly, because I think that’s the way the matches are meant to be played, in fairness and in great sportsmanship, and I think that’s what Colin is striving to do here,” said the 50-year-old.