Montgomerie gives Harrington Ryder Cup warning
European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has sounded a subtle reminder to Padraig Harrington that next year's team selection could hinge on a commitment to key European Tour tournaments.
Monty singled out Harrington and England's Ian Poulter as players who will closely come under his scrutiny in the countdown to his final team selection.
The issue of the make-up of his 2010 European team was raised on the eve of today's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles
It prompted Monty to remind those seeking to make his Celtic Manor side that selection means being present at Gleneagles and, in Harrington's case, teeing up in May's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Harrington was noticeable by his absence from the Tour's flagship event and instead was present in Scotland hosting a corporate outing at Turnberry.
“I would expect to get a positive response from Padraig”, said Monty. “If you look at the West Course, the Burma Road course at Wentworth, and see the changes being made, then I hate to say it, but there's no excuse to say why Padraig for one would not be competing in the BMW PGA Championship,” said Monty.
Monty is also chairman of this week's €1.6m tournament that has managed to attract just two members of last year's losing European team — England's Oliver Wilson and Denmark's Soren Hansen.
“You will find next year that the No 5 player might not be safe because there's only nine automatically qualifying,” he said. “So No 5 through to No 25 on the Race to Dubai list, and also the world points list, will be competing here next year.”
Poulter's position will also be in Monty's mind after the England player skipped last year's Gleneagles event to compete in the US. He was then selected by Nick Faldo as one of his wildcard choices.
“There's always certain sympathetic cases, there's no question,” said Monty. “But what I am saying is I would like everybody that's in contention for these spots to be playing here next year, definitely.”
Seven Irish, among them Peter Lawrie who was joint runner-up last week in Holland's KLM Open, will tee up today vying for the €270,000 first-prize cheque.
Meanwhile, former Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn has returned to the European Tour this week after undergoing a brain scan and “every test imaginable.”
The Dane, chairman of the players' committee and captain of Continental Europe against Britain and Ireland in next month's Vivendi Trophy in Paris, admits he has been a worried man these past few weeks after suffering dizzy spells and extreme fatigue.
“They found a brain, but nothing else,” Bjorn was able to joke on the eve of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
He has not played since the French Open at the start of last month and today's pro-am was his first round since then.
“It started in France and after going to Loch Lomond for the Scottish Open the following week I felt so bad that hitting balls for 10 minutes felt like 10 hours.
“It just drained me completely, so I pulled out and went home.
“For two weeks I hardly got out of bed and when I got the dizzy attacks I was sleeping for 15-16 hours a day.”