Colin Montgomerie has the best Ryder Cup record of any player in this year's competition, but he also has had a tendency in years past to bring out the worst in American crowds. That was especially true when he was heckled unmercifully in 1999 at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., the last time the matches were played in the United States. But the Scotsman said Wednesday he believes that's not going to happen again this week.

"I think that's been spoken about an awful lot and probably overanalyzed and overwritten about," said Montgomerie, 16-7-5 in six previous competitions. "I don't think we're going to have that problem here. . . . I don't think that Brookline will appear again. I think the world is a different place, a better place since then. I don't think we'll have that situation again."

Montgomerie is more svelte than ever having lost about 35 pounds since the British Open, and said people have even been asking him what diet he's on.

"I just feel a little bit better about myself, and self-esteem is huge in this game, especially when you're out in public a lot," he said. "I think it does [change the crowd's perception of him]. It's a positive outlook to crowds in general. I'm getting a lot of positive crowd reaction out there."

A Different Approach

U.S. captain Hal Sutton has taken a little different approach to practice rounds from past captains. Instead of pairing his players in combinations he might use in alternate shot and best-ball matches Friday and Saturday, he's told his players to simply work on their own games and familiarize themselves with the course, rather than be concerned about who they'll play with.

He'll have to announce his Friday morning pairings on Thursday afternoon, following his team's last practice round, but has given no indication of what combinations he's been contemplating. His only hint: He said he'll use each of his 12 men on the first day of competition, with four matches in the morning and four more in the afternoon.

Levet's Genes Fit

Frenchman Thomas Levet is playing in his first Ryder Cup, and he definitely has the genes of an athlete. His father played hockey and tennis, his mother was a volleyball star and one of his grandfathers was a professional cyclist.

Levet also played hockey and tennis as a youngster, but got hurt one summer and was unable to run. So he decided to take up golf, a game he first learned from another grandfather.

"When my father retired from hockey and tennis because his back was hurting, he just played golf," Levet said. "As a hockey player, he never missed the ball. The first competition he did after a month was 86. It just gives you an idea how easy it is for a hockey player."