Monty May Be The Toast of Newport, But Who'll Be Ryder Cup Captain Come 2012?
As the European team completed the slow, tight prising of the Ryder Cup from the hands of Team USA in the Ryder Cup's first Monday finish at Celtic Manor, Sky focused largely on the non-playing members of the home side during the nigh-on 90-minute wait for the closing ceremony.
The obvious subjects were spoken to: there were interviews with Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, and Rory McIlroy amongst the hordes of fans in South Wales, but Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, and Sergio Garcia were never too far away from the limelight, either.
Having ambled around Celtic Manor during Tuesday's practice session, it was clear to me that their input in the preparations were massive, too.
All four of Monty's vice-captains (and it would later be five) were meticulous in their analysis of Colin Montgomerie's 12 disciples, the European team taking far more time on every hole than their American counterparts.
Now with Monty severing all ties with him and the Ryder Cup at 2012, stating in a press conference: "I will not be doing this again, I think it's only right that it should be shared around."
It didn't take long for speculation on who'll lead the holders to Chicago in two years' time to begin:
Backed By The Bookies: Darren Clarke
Installed as the early favourite by bookmakers, Darren Clarke would be a very popular choice.
His emotional performance at the 2006 Ryder Cup, securing three points from three matches so soon after the death of his wife, Heather, will live long in the memory.
Let's not forget a large factor in Montgomerie being picked as captain was that he was still active on the European Tour, and with Clarke's appearances becoming slightly more scarce, he may deemed a risky choice.
His record in the Ryder Cup is good (11.5 points from a possible 20) and you can't argue with the fact that Clarke has experienced both the highs and the lows of the event since his debut at Valderrama in 1997.
Getting Ready For Gleneagles?: Paul McGinley
A man whose career is famed by his Ryder Cup exploits, sinking the winning putt in 2002 at the Belfry.
McGinley more or less sums up what the match is all about: his gesture to concede a generous putt to J.J Henry in 2006 is often pointed to as an example of the sportsmanship the Ryder Cup inspires.
A decent record in the Ryder Cup, scoring exactly half of the points available to him in three appearances, McGinley is seen by most as the choice for Gleneagles in 2014 rather than the man to lead Europe at Medinah.
The Unlikely Lad: Colin Montgomerie
Nobody has captained Europe twice in a row since Bernard Gallacher took three attempts to get a win after narrow defeats at Kiawah in 1991 and the Belfry two years later.
Montgomerie has been a resounding success, the scoreline not telling the full story, the work done to get the fans' support to fever pitch, the careful planning of the team's preparation.
It may well have come as a disappointment when Monty was so quick to announce he wouldn't stay on, but it certainly did not come as a shock.
In recent years, Bernard Langer has, among others, toyed with the idea of taking a second term, but it would be a massive surprise if the Scot went back on his word.
Right Place at The Right Time: José María Olazábal
When the format for this year's Ryder Cup underwent some makeshift changes on Friday evening, it may well have started a chain of events that put 'Ollie' right up there in the race to take over the European captaincy.
Monty suddenly needed an extra vice-captain, and as luck would have it, Olazabal was at Celtic Manor. The Spaniard served as assistant to Nick Faldo's ill-fated captaincy two years ago, so was the perfect solution to a problem that needed addressing quickly.
Olazabal has moved straight to the front of people's minds as the attention will turn to the next captaincy. He's already received one endorsement from Paul McGinley, who said in an interview with Sky that he wanted Ollie to lead the Europeans to America in 2012.
His partnership with Seve over the years is the stuff of legend, and Olazabal has two US Masters titles to his name, proving that he knows American courses and American atmospheres.
The only issue is Jose Maria's health, as rheumatoid arthritis restricted him to only one appearance on the European Tour this year.
Could Any Other Contenders Get a Surprise Nod?
The other vice-captains, Sergio Garcia and Thomas Bjorn, will only be regarded as outsiders in the race. Sergio has many more years in him as a player, and Bjorn perhaps doesn't command the same aura as his counterparts.
One dark horse could be Miguel Angel Jimenez, who served as an assistant under Seve in 1997. It certainly wouldn't be a shock to see him there in one capacity or another.
Whoever gets the nod will have a huge job on their hands. The US team won't take kindly to losing such a tight contest, and the hard work will have to begin way before the start of the 2012 season.
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