Golf: Ryder Cup picks matter more than the captain, says Monty

CARY (North Carolina) (REUTERS) - Colin Montgomerie feels the United States should be more focused on changing their player qualification system for the 2016 Ryder Cup rather than fret about who captains the team.

While there has been plenty of discussion about revamping the method by which the captain is chosen in the wake of another American defeat in the golf team event, the former European captain maintains that getting the best players is most important.

"Being a European, we're very happy with what we tend to do," Montgomerie, who is playing in the SAS Championship here on the Champions Tour, said. "But, having lost eight out of the last 10 Ryder Cups, you would feel the PGA (of America) would have to change things somehow (as far as choosing the players).

"Is it a two-year process, a one-year process, is it 12 picks for the captain, is it the (top) 12 in the world rankings?"

The Scot, who captained the victorious European team at the 2010 Ryder Cup, was critical of American player Phil Mickelson's thinly-veiled attack of US captain Tom Watson during a post-event news conference in Scotland.

While Mickelson has subsequently received plenty of support for his comments, particularly his desire to mimic the European system of surrounding the captain with past and future captains, Montgomerie remains critical of the timing.

"The timing of what he said really was wrong," said Montgomerie, who is part of a five-man panel selecting the Europe captain next year.

And the 51-year-old, who has implied that the importance of the captain at a Ryder event is over-rated, does not think it matters so much who is the next American skipper.

He points out that he might have been a losing captain four years ago if one of his players, Graeme McDowell, had not pulled out a great victory in his singles match against Hunter Mahan on the final day.

"You talk about this great European template all you like (but) I never saw it when I was captain. If it wasn't for (McDowell's victory), we might have been looking for America's template.

"We happen to have putted better than the American team over the last few Ryder Cups and that's why we've won.

"Why we have done that, I'm not sure (but) eight out of 10 is beyond a coincidence so there must be something that's either very, very good with us or not so with the American set-up."