Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Monty blames TV for Masters absence

Leave it to Colin Montgomerie, everybody's favorite twit, to explain to the world that it's the fault of Asian television markets and Masters officials -- not his own declining golf game -- that he won't be at Augusta National next week.

Monty failed to qualify for the Masters this year, unable to meet any of the many qualifying standards and his absence from Augusta became official this week when he wasn't among the top 50 in the world rankings, his last possible way to qualify since he's not playing the Shell Houston Open.

Rather than blame his game -- had he been able to slap a 7-iron on the 18th green at Winged Foot and two-putt for par on the 72nd hole of the 2006 U.S. Open none of this would be an issue -- Monty chose to point out that Masters officials are more worried about their television ratings in China, India and Thailand than they are about him. Augusta officials chose not to offer Montgomerie a special exemption, something they do on a selective basis for international players.

"There has been no call from Augusta and I am not expecting one," Montgomerie said in Munich this week where he was promoting a European Tour event.

"Now, if I were the only person in the country, à la China, I might get in. It is a strange way to make up a field for a Major championship - television rights. They are quite open about why. They were when I missed out last time in 2005 when they picked Shingo Katayama who was 67th in the world and I was 51st. They picked him over me for the Japanese rights. And they have done the same with Thailand and China this time.

"I am not the only one who feels that way and not just because I am not in. In or not I'd be saying the same thing. It is a strange criterion to pick a major field.

"The Masters is the only one you can get invited to. At the Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. PGA you have to qualify. But the Masters have their own rules so we will leave them to it. It would be easier to swallow if no one was invited and it was done on sporting and not commercial criteria."

That is, more or less, the fully Monty on why he won't be in Augusta. Like it's the fault of Jeev Milka Singh or Prayad Marksaeng or Liang Wen-hong, each of whom did receive special exemptions and, in case they're asked, can offer the results of various tournaments in which they've beaten Monty this year.

Masters chairman Billy Payne has made no secret that he believes the tournament can expand golf's global reach and if using exemptions to raise the profile in Thailand and China helps, there's nothing wrong with that.

Payne could have offered Monty an exemption but he didn't. Monty had plenty of opportunities to play his way into the Masters but he didn't. And, for the record, the U.S. and British Opens offer special exemptions, not just the Masters.

I'm a fan of Monty's. He can be prickly and there's an almost cartoon quality to him when he feels aggrieved. He was unfairly picked upon by American fans for years and he absolutely deserves a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame though he's never won a major and probably never will.

At least now Monty has one less thing to worry about in the future. There won't be any special invitations arriving in the mail from the Masters.


Anonymous said...

Make a cut you big baby!!!!

Anonymous said...

i think monte's comment has some merit....

augusta....one of the purer venues in all of golf....will make decisions for commerical rather than competitive reasons....its a slight flaw.

good timely topic...i will miss watching him struggle and feeling sorry for him this year, as i have in past years.