PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Surging Monty set for Pacific Links defense
European star is coming off a win in Japan entering this week at Bear Mountain
September 13, 2017
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- After a slow start to 2017, Colin Montgomerie has been one of the hottest players of late. (Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)
This year’s U.S. Senior open literally was the lowest point of Colin Montgmorie’s career on PGA TOUR Champions.
The 54-year-old Scotsman tied for 42nd at the Salem Country Club in Peabody, Massachusetts. His 3-over par total was 19 shots behind winner Kenny Perry and by far his lowest finish in a U.S. Senior Open. He had won the event in 2014, finished runner-up in 2015 and posted a T11 a year ago.
Moreover, the 42nd-place finish left him in 46th in the Schwab Cup standings, the lowest mark of his career.
This year’s U.S. Senior Open was Montgomerie’s fifth event back on PGA TOUR Champions after recovering from two torn ligaments in his left foot that cost him four events in March and April. He struggled to regain his form; his best finish in those five events was a T17 at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
It was strange not to find Montgomerie’s name near the top of the Schwab Cup standings. In his three full seasons on PGA TOUR Champions he twice has finished runner-up to Bernhard Langer by year’s end, and his other finish was third.
It turns out it wasn’t too late for Montgomerie to put his best foot forward. Feeling better by the time the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship arrived in mid-July, the player has staged a remarkable climb on the Schwab ladder.
After claiming his first victory at the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship on Sunday, Montgomerie sits eighth in the Schwab standings and has reminded everyone on PGA TOUR Champions that when he’s right he’s as good as anyone out here.
“I'm just beginning to feel that with the good help of doctors and physio that I'm just beginning to play the way that I have the last three years in finishing runner-up to my good friend Bernhard Langer,” Montgomerie said after winning the first PGA TOUR-sanctioned event ever held in Japan. “But with the Playoffs coming, I feel my game is coming into good shape and I look forward to competing against the best players on the PGA TOUR Champions. And we have some great players, great players. For those Japanese who witnessed our golf, I said at the start of the week that we will show our skills to the Japanese people and I'm sure that that was the case.
“The standard of play on the PGA TOUR Champions is exceptional. Everybody says that, and I'm no different. Yeah, we look forward to Playoffs coming up.”
Montgomerie has moved from 46th to eighth in just seven starts. Four of them have been top sevens. It’s fair to say he’s the hottest player on PGA TOUR Champions not named Scott McCarron, whom the Scot overtook in the final round in Tokyo to get his fifth career PGA TOUR Champions title.
McCarron led after two rounds, but he faltered right out of the gate with a double bogey on the first hole.
“I started three behind, I needed minimum 66 I thought,” Montgomerie said. “And then when the leader double bogeys the first hole it brings everybody back. So that 66 suddenly became 67, 68, you know? So yes, it gave everybody a lift because Scott has been playing superb golf and for him to double bogey the first hole, yes, of course we knew. It was a shock to everybody. And then you think, OK, well, yeah, there's opportunities here.”
Unfortunately for Montgomerie, he didn’t look ready for his opportunity. His start wasn’t much better than McCarron’s; he was 1 over for his final round after seven holes, and that included both par-5s on the front nine.
Then Montgomerie’s putter caught fire. He rolled in 115 feet of putts in his five back-nine birdies, including a 60-footer on No. 13, en route to a 31. It allowed him to hold off McCarron and Billy Mayfair by a stroke.
"The greens were as good as any, and I mean this, as good as any as we have ever putted on, ever,” Montgomerie said. “I mean, and we've putted on some great, great surfaces. In the 30 years as a pro, these are as good as any we have putted on as a putting surface. Superb putting surfaces. And the way the course was manicured was exceptional, so all credit to everybody that was involved in putting that course together.”
Now Montgomerie heads to the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship to defend his title. Coincidentally, he beat McCarron in a playoff there; Monty shot a 67 in the final round to make up three strokes on the California native. It went to the third playoff hole before a birdie decided it.
Colin Montgomerie wins in playoff at Pacific Links