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Montgomerie denies dismissing Woods

By Helen Chandler, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Montgomerie has dismissed reports he would not have picked Tiger Woods for U.S. team
  • Montgomerie speaking at joint press conference with U.S. captain Corey Pavin in Wales
  • Both captains believe tie, which begins on Friday, will be extremely close
  • Teams have been banned from social networking until the end of the tournament

(CNN) -- Europe's Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has dismissed media reports quoting him as saying he would not have picked Tiger Woods had he been in charge of selecting the U.S. team, as the two sides arrived in Wales for this week's showpiece at Celtic Manor.

Woods' inclusion as a "wildcard" pick in the U.S. team was the subject of much speculation, as the world number one has struggled all season following much-publicized problems in his private life.

Speaking at a joint press conference with U.S. captain Corey Pavin at Cardiff Airport Monday, Montgomerie was effusive in his praise for 14-time major winner Woods.

"I've always said Tiger is the best player in the world and in my opinion, the best player to ever play the game. Of course he'd be in my team," the Scot said.

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"It is great for the Ryder Cup that he is here. We welcome him to Wales with open arms."

Wales is hosting the Ryder Cup for the first time in the history of the competition between Europe and the United States.

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More than $40 million dollars has been spent on improvements to the venue at Celtic Manor, with 45,000 people expected to watch many of the world's best golfers compete for the 17-inch high trophy over the weekend.

The American team, which is made up of four of the world's top five players -- Woods, Phil Mickleson, Steve Stricker and Sunday's Tour Championship winner Jim Furyk -- are aiming to defend the title they won in Kentucky in 2008.

Stewart Cink, Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson complete a strong line up along with Ryder Cup debutantes Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson.

I've always said Tiger is the best player in the world. Of course he'd be in my team
--Colin Montgomerie
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Pavin said he would decide on his final pairings for the match after the players had finished three days of practice together on Thursday.

Montgomerie played down the idea that his team -- which includes England's world number three Lee Westwood, and experienced Ryder Cup players Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Spain's Miguel Angel Jiminiez -- are favorites to win the tie.

"I think on this occasion it will come down to a Sunday putt," he said. "The closeness of this event over the years has been its beauty and this year won't be any different."

"I think it's going to be very competitive, it may come down to a Sunday match," Pavin agreed.

"I expect the matches to be pretty close but we have to overcome the home advantage and try to keep the trophy in our hands."

Both captains also confirmed that their teams had been banned from using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for the duration of the three-day long tournament.

"The team has come to a consensus," Pavin said of the ban. "These sites can sometimes be a little distracting and I think it is important to focus on the Ryder Cup and playing in the matches."

"We are in the same position," Montgomerie added. " We feel that all these social sites can get oneself into trouble.

"We're here to try and regain this trophy that Corey has brought back for us and we have to focus on that job."