Ryder Cup skipper Colin Montgomerie has buried the hatchet with Sandy Lyle after the “cheat” slur that sparked a wealth of controversy at last month’s Open.
The pair bumped into each other at Hazeltine National yesterday where Montgomerie in competing n his 18th US PGA thanks to an invitation the PGA of America traditionally extends to the current Ryder Cup captains.
“I didn't realise that Sandy was coming over here to commentate for our British Sky Television here for the tournament,” Montgomerie said. “And I had just managed to speak to Sandy just before we came in here, which was good.
“I can't, unfortunately, say what was said. But that matter is now closed and I personally thought it was closed four and a half years ago.” Smiling broadly, he added: “It is now, believe me.”
What that smile meant only Lyle and Montgomerie know.
As it is, the 2010 Ryder Cup skipper is here, not only to compete, but to keep an eye on the potential Ryder Cup players he expects to figure prominently on the leaderboard.
“We have 31 players here and I expect out of that 31 to have four or five in the Top-10 this week. We have a fantastic wealth of talent in Europe now, more than I've ever witnessed in my 22 years, and I'm looking to have, as I say, four or five of that 31 in the Top-10 this week, which will be a super effort.
“The one name that springs to mind who is playing as well as anyone and should probably have been in that playoff at least to the British Open is Lee Westwood.
"He's striking the ball as well as anyone. Padraig Harrington, I'm glad that he's showing signs of his great form at the end of last year, as well. So there's two names, and we just hope that Paul Casey is fit enough to compete, because obviously a real contender here.”
Casey will decide on his fitness this morning and he has as good a chance as any of becoming the first British player to win US PGA title since Scotland’s Tommy Armour claimed the title in 1930.
Whoever wins, Montgomerie fully expects to see some Europeans in the shake up for the title on Sunday.
Addressing the British drought in the US Open (Tony Jacklin won in 1970) and the USPGA, Montgomerie was tempted to claim Padraig Harrington for the British cause.
“We almost classify Padraig Harrington as a Brit,” he said with a chuckle. “We'll take him on this one.
“But at the same time, it has been a difficult one for us over the years. I managed to get into a playoff (for the US PGA) in 1995 at Riviera and lost out, but it's just one of these things. I put it down to pure coincidence that others, other nationalities, if you like, have performed better.
“But I do feel now that it's about time that changed now, and I'm expecting bigger and better things from our top players and not just to compete in this championship, but to contend and to contend on Sunday afternoon coming down the last few holes.
“As I said earlier, I would expect four or five of our European contingent here to be in the Top-10, which I don't think you could have said ten or 15 years ago.”