NEWPORT, Wales -- It didn't take the British media long to put European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie on the hot seat Monday at Celtic Manor during his first on-site press conference with U.S. captain Corey Pavin.
The issue: Why, for heaven's sake, is Monty giving deference to the notion of fairness in this biennial mud-wrestling ... er, golf match?
It appears that Montgomerie's transgression is to conspire with James McKenzie, the director of golf courses and estate management at Celtic Manor to put forth a straight forward setup to the TwentyTen Course. The rough is penal, but the fairways are wide and the greens are at a modest 10Â¿ to 11 on the stimpmeter, a bit slow for the Americans but nominal for Europe's players.
Montgomerie eschewed tricks and gimmicks, however, figuring that a European course set up like a regular European Tour venue would be enough of an advantage, thank you, and may the better team win.
"On this occasion, I haven't played around with the golf course at all. This golf course is set up in a very, very fair manner to allow the best team to win," Montgomerie explained. "I don't think it was right to set the course up in any other way than to what it's been designed for."
Yikes. Blasphemy. Fair? Who wants fair? No surprise that that wasn't going to be the end of it. Here were the subsequent exchanges, with Monty becoming noticeably rankled as the debate continued.
Q. On that subject, both Ian Woosnam in 2006 and Sam Torrance in 2002 made quite an issue of setting up the home course for their advantage. Is there any reason why you've decided to keep the course in a very neutral setup? It's very much like a standard European Tour setup.
Montgomerie: "Well, hence to our advantage, if it is a European Tour setup. I was hardly going to set up to a U.S. Tour setup. 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, and the setup that it is. The rough is graded very fairly. A good tee 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."
Q. But is there an actual reason why you've not taken advantage of it, to get a special home advantage?
Montgomerie: "No, there's no reason at all. I think I'm allowing the best team here to win."
Let the best team win? He can't be serious. But captain Pavin approved.
"I think what he (Montgomerie) was saying, basically, is you set it up to European Tour standards, and that's the advantage that he's describing, I believe," Pavin said. "You know, I think Colin needs to do what he thinks is best for the European Team to have the best chance to win. That's his job as captain. So I think that's what he feels he's done, and setting up the golf course fairly, in the way the European Tour sets it up, it is what he thinks best.
"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."
"Very good. Exactly how I was thinking," Montgomerie interjected with a tight smile.
So what's Tuesday's anticipated topic? How about, why are the Americans getting three meals a day?
-- *Dave Shedloski