PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
Montgomerie playing well, healthy and going viral online
October 14, 2020
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- October 14, 2020
- Colin Montgomerie is fresh off a solo second at the SAS Championship. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Colin Montgomerie Version 3.0 might be the best one yet.
He’s no longer the doughy Scottish antagonist of so many U.S. Ryder Cup nightmares.
He’s no longer the overly blunt European who seemed in contention in nearly every major only never to win one (five runner-up finishes and four other top 10s between 1994 and 2006).
Those days are long gone. Now he’s the lean (!), affable (J), free-wheeling(?), viral sensation Monty. He’s at peace with being 57 and at peace with the game that has brought him so much.
Montgomerie is fresh off a solo second at the SAS Championship on PGA TOUR Champions, where only rookie Ernie Els was able to best him, and by only a stroke. And OK, maybe Monty still has a bit of that Scottish Spurrier in him.
“I just saw Ernie’s putt on video and my God I thought was going 10 feet by!” Montgomerie said Monday.
If, indeed, the South African’s putt hadn’t rattled in from 40 feet for birdie, there at least would have been a playoff. And who knows from there? Montgomerie has been playing well since the PGA TOUR Champions made its return after halting play in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, with four top 25s in seven events.
Montgomerie said he had taken ill in March just as the pandemic started, and he lost seven pounds.
“That kind of gave me a kick-start, and I thought, OK, let’s keep going,” Montgomerie said. “Then after 1,000 calories a day and some exercise, I’ve lost 40.
“I’ve felt good about it. Sometimes it doesn’t help the golf, but I’ve hit a lot of balls and got the swing back. Sometimes you lose rhythm and timing when you lose weight and all the swing goes. But there’s more important things than golf. There’s your health. Being overweight doesn’t help you, especially if you get the virus. And no doctor will tell you losing weight will hurt you.”
More important things than golf? Who are you, Monty 3.0?
He spent the time off holed up at his home in Sunningdale, England, where he said the virus was taken very seriously. He said none of the golf courses near him was open. He bought a practice net and put it in his garden. That was a first.
It turns out the weight loss has been great for him. Not only does he look fitter than he ever has, but his swing coach, Kevin Craggs at IMG Academy in Florida, believes Montgomerie actually has gained swing speed.
Monty wasn’t so sure.
“I suppose a lot of people lose swing speed when they lose weight,” Montgomerie said. “Bryson DeChambeau was putting on weight to gain swing speed. Both can’t be right. But I haven’t lost any. That’s task No. 1.”
Two other keys to resurgent Montgomerie, who tied for third at the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship in August. His putter has been hot, and his mental outlook has stayed bright despite the pandemic.
Montgomerie ranks ninth on PGA TOUR Champions in putting average. He always has been above average with the flat stick, but only one other time in his seven years since turning 50 has he ranked in the top 10 in putting.
“I’m just trying to hole out,” Montgomerie said. “I had no three-putts last week on very quick, grainy greens. I was proud of that. You can’t afford to make many mistakes on the green in three rounds. I have putted better since we’ve returned. … If I’m in the top 10 in putting … I hit fairways, and generally my irons are Ok. If I can putt I know I can compete or rather contend. If I don’t putt well I’m down the list, but that’s the same for most people. If you putt well you have half a chance.
“I’m just trying to be … I am trying to be a little more positive. I’ve been a little bit tentative. My game … I should be used to it 56 years in, but my game was based on four rounds of not making many mistakes. Out here on Champions, you have to go out and go at it quickly. Sometimes I haven’t given myself a chance. I’m lagging too many and it’s not good around here. You have to score 67 most days or you’re not in the hunt.”
Thinking positively and firing at pins instead of griping and aiming at the middle of the green? Who are you, Monty 3.0?
Wise and wistful in his late 50s, that’s who.
“When I was younger I would come over here for the TPCs and U.S. Opens and hopefully score around par, which was OK,” Montgomerie said. “Now I’m on PGA TOUR Champions and pars -- God! -- you’re not anywhere near contention. It’s the same thing. You have to give yourself a chance to be more positive. Finishing second and third recently has been great. You don’t get much from finishing 25th every week. You’ve gotta contend, not just compete.
“And then you get the mental side attached to. You have to think right.”
Renewed and recharged, Montgomerie stopped short of saying he believed he’d win again. He has seven PGA TOUR Champions titles to his credit; the 2019 Invesco QQQ Championship was his last.
His recent play has given him a surge of confidence. He’s looking forward to the few events remaining in 2020 and the loaded schedule in 2021. But while his game has changed for the better, so has the landscape.
“It’s getting harder all the time out here,” Montgomerie said. “There’s only one guy who really has improved or stayed the same and that’s (Bernhard) Langer. Everyone else goes down a bit. Furyk, Els, Langer, Vijay, it’s getting harder and you add Mickelson, he’s playing this week. There’s a helluva tough 10, you’ve got to be honest. McCarron if he gets his game back, Jerry Kelly, Kevin Sutherland. And the guys that no one had heard of, the likes of Scott Parel, Doug Barron, Brett Quigley, God, they can all play. It’s good competition. It’s great competition.”
Which bring us to viral sensation Colin Montgomerie. At the SAS, the Scot was asked to take part in the #DreamsChallenge, which he wasn’t aware of until watching the original video. But he figured, why not?
Monty, is that something you’d have done 20 years ago?
“No. I wouldn’t do it 20 years hence either.”
And then he laughed heartily.