Wonder if Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie thought his whining about not getting an invite to play in next weekend’s Masters Tournament (while lower ranked Asian golfers, including China’s top player Liang Wenchong, did get special invites) would open up this can of worms.
Thai golfer Prayad Marksaeng (pictured) responded to Monty’s musings:
“I believe they invite Asian players because golf and golfers in Asia are developing fast, and Asian golfers are playing better and better in big tournaments,” Said the player, who is currently ranked 93rd in the world. But Marksaeng didn’t leave it there. Clearly offended personally, he went on to attack Monty’s attitude towards Asian players on tour.
“I have no idea why he (Montgomerie) said that, but maybe he dislikes Asian players — he never talks to Asian players anyway.”
It’s worth pointing out that the Masters has, like them or not, pretty clear rules (scroll to bottom) regarding who is eligible to compete and who is not, and Montgomerie does not meet those qualifications. Granted, neither did Liang, Marksaeng and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, the other special invite, but the Masters is also a private club and free to do whatever the hell they want with their tournament.
It’s also worth pointing out that these three special invites were announced in January, and the Masters made it pretty clear then why those three players were chosen:
“These three individuals are successful, accomplished and talented golfers deserving of a Masters invitation,” [Chairman of the Masters Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club Billy] Payne said. “They are outstanding representatives of their respective countries. This is also another component in our objective of growing the game of golf worldwide utilizing the Masters brand. We think the interest in golf in each country will heighten when these players compete in the Masters.”
The three invitees from Asia aren’t exactly schlubs, either — Liang was Asia’s top golfer last year — and, as golf writer Dan O’Neill mentions, Montgomerie “would hardly be first in line for the next available [invitation]” anyway:
Montgomerie has been consistently prominent in Europe, no question. At the same time, he has done next to nothing stateside. He has nary a major championship to his credit. A few close calls, zero cigars.
What’s more, he has not exactly been a ball of fire at Augusta in recent times. In his last four appearances, he has three missed cuts and a tie for 48th on his resume. His last top-10 was 1998.
Monty’s manager is now left playing damage control (his client’s outburst couldn’t have helped his chances of getting invited to future Masters tournaments). “Colin completely understands Augusta’s right to promote themselves,” Guy Kinnings said. “The last thing he would want to do is show disrespect or tell them who they should or should not invite. He’s done everything he can to be there, including changing his schedule, and he’s just very disappointed because he values the tournament so highly. He does, though, feel he makes an important contribution around the world in promoting golf.”