From Brian Keogh in California
Colin Montgomerie believes “fearless” Rory McIlroy can be Europe’s secret weapon in next year’s Ryder Cup in Kentucky.
Despite McIlroy’s nightmare 11 over par 83 in the first round of the South African Airways Open at the Pearl Valley Golf Estates, Montgomerie is convinced that the Ulster teenager has the talent to be an inspirational figure for skipper Nick Faldo and the team.
Like Sergio Garcia, who become the youngest ever Ryder Cup player at 19 years, 8 months and 15 days old at Brookline in 1999, McIlroy’s fearless approach to the game would be a massive boost to Europe’s chances.
Monty said: “I don't think the pressure is going to affect him. There are a few guys that I don't think would be affected by it and he is one of them.
“You have got to put him for a Ryder Cup spot, of course you have. If he doesn't do it this time he will do it next.
“Garcia was a similar type of player for us at Brookline - someone who will bash his putts in and someone who was right up for it.
“Like Rory, Sergio was very passionate about the game and what he was doing and it was great for our team in 99, especially in the team format of it.”
Montgomerie, 44, reckons that McIlroy’s lack of nerves and Ryder Cup baggage is just what the team needs to win the Ryder Cup for the fourth time on the trot.
He added: “To have some like a Garcia or a Rory that doesn't really understand where you are or what it is about and goes out and wins his match, is fantastic. And at Valhalla early on, there will be pressure.
“It is a fearless situation. And every round of golf he plays is a fearless situation. He just gives it a rip.
“How many times have you played a hole. where the the second time you play it knowing that there is out of bounds on the right, you play the hole very differently. Well he doesn't know there is out of bounds anywhere, the second or third time he plays the hole.
“It can only be of benefit. I am not saying that the whole team should be as young as Rory but the odd one like that would be great.”
McIlroy would be 19 years, 4 months and 15 days old on the first day of the matches in Kentucky.
And if he makes the side, he will beat Garcia's record as the youngest ever participant by FOUR months and Tiger Woods by almost three years.
As for his spat with Faldo during the Seve Trophy at The Heritage, Montgomerie says he has patched up his differences with the Englishman.
He said: “I've spoken to Nick and it's fine. It doesn't concern me. Nick is his own man. He's a very, very individual man."
McIlroy is currently ranked 24th in the European Ryder Cup points list with Montgomerie well off the pace in 41st with nine months to go before the team is finalised..
But the Scot says he is not concerned about missing out, adding: "I wouldn't lose any sleep over it, I'd just make sure I qualified in 2010,
"It's just one of these things. I'm nowhere near it now because I made a particularly poor start to the qualifying situation, but I know if I play well in 2008 I'll qualify."