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Monty—like Faldo—was never one to run around with a crowd of players. But during Ryder Cup play things were different for him. "He loves to be loved," Faldo said. "At the Ryder Cup he had 12 people who loved him." Faldo's take is the same as McLean's: Being on a team freed up Monty.
Last week, at a place with good vibes for him, Montgomerie, newly remarried, was all on his own as he tried to do something good at Oakland Hills. For players who love Ryder Cup play—a Monty, a Davis Love III, a Fred Couples—trying to make a team is nearly as grueling as contending in a major. Two years ago at the PGA at Medinah, Love tried to play his way onto Tom Lehman's team and came up short, unable, he said later, to make free swings when he knew Lehman was lurking behind trees, checking out his candidates. After holing his final shot from a bunker at the '99 PGA Championship at Medinah, Couples took an American Airlines flight to Los Angeles and spoke by phone to Ben Crenshaw, the Ryder Cup captain, while in the air. When Crenshaw told Couples he had chosen others for the team, all the color drained from Couples's tanned face.
Monty, with a spot on the line last week, shot an 84 in the second round. Too much at stake and not nearly enough game, not on that Friday. Not what he was looking for and not what Faldo was, either. In all likelihood Montgomerie's Ryder Cup streak is over at eight. On Friday he holed a putt on 18 that was almost identical to the putt he holed to win the '04 Ryder Cup. He took off his visor, ran his hand through his hair and shook the hands of his playing partners, Furyk and Aaron Baddeley.
Montgomerie signed his card and retired to the clubhouse, climbing a set of steps that featured a beautiful sepia-toned photograph of himself playing out a bunker in the glorious '04 Ryder Cup, a picture so big it practically fills a wall.
Before he stepped into the clubhouse, he spoke to a group of reporters and was asked about the upcoming matches. "I wasn't thinking about the Ryder Cup out there," he said. He wasn't under oath.
An old-gent newspaperman from Ireland said, "There's an awful lot of people who want you to be on the team."
"So I'm not on the team, am I?" Montgomerie said. "Sorry. I didn't realize [you were] Nick Faldo."
That's when he split for the clubhouse. When he will be Stateside again is anybody's guess.
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