Montgomerie Shoots for Second Best
'I'm back where I feel I should be,' he said Wednesday.
Where does Montgomerie go from there?
'Forward,' he replied.
'Number 2,' he said.
Motivation isn't the problem. Even at age 39, three years removed from the last of his record seven consecutive money titles on the European tour, Montgomerie believes he still has the game and the desire to contend every time he plays.
It's that other guy ' Tiger Woods ' keeping him realistic.
Montgomerie wasn't just being gracious to the host of the Target World Challenge, which starts Thursday at Sherwood Country Club and features 16 world-class players.
He was being realistic.
Montgomerie doesn't have the game to catch Woods in the world ranking, and he's not sure anyone else does, either.
Phil Mickelson is currently No. 2, although it is virtually impossible for Lefty to catch Woods in the world ranking next year or the year after.
Right behind is Ernie Els. Montgomerie gives him higher marks, if only because the Big Easy is coming off an eight-stroke victory in South Africa.
'If Tiger still has the commitment to keep going and the desire, it's going to be very difficult for anybody,' the Scot said.
Montgomerie would have no qualms with being No. 2, not like he did seven years ago when he pushed Greg Norman and came close on a few occasions to overtaking him.
'Now if you're the second-best golfer in the world, it's not bad, considering who's No. 1,' Montgomerie said.
He'll get a crack at Woods this week in a $3.8 million tournament that marks the end of the silly season.
Along with being the host, Woods also is the defending champion. A year ago, he closed with a 64 and made up a four-stroke deficit against Vijay Singh on the back nine to win by three strokes.
Woods faces an elite field that features eight of the top 10 in the world ranking ' only Els and Sergio Garcia are missing ' and 14 of the top 20.
'You're competing not only for a lot of money, but you're also playing against some of the best players in the world,' Woods said.
This is Montgomerie's first trip to California since the Match Play Championship at La Costa in late February, when he was beaten in the first round and vowed never to return to America because of what he perceived to be heckling.
He has put that behind him, and now says he is getting more confident and more comfortable in the United States, which can only lead to good things.
'Hopefully, a major might just come around,' he said.
Montgomerie for years was considered the best player not to win a major, although he says Mickelson now deserves that label more than him.
'I always felt it was quite an accolade, that,' he said. 'Because obviously, it's better than being the second-best to not win a major. He's probably overtaken me now. We've both been at it for quite a time.'
Montgomerie is gearing up for four more chances at the majors next year.
His official season ended in controversy when he and Bernhard Langer decided to share the title in the Volvo Masters when it became too dark to continue their playoff. He also counts the Ryder Cup as a victory, which he should, because Montgomerie was the only player unbeaten in five matches.
Since then, he has changed equipment to the Hogan Apex Tour golf ball, and will go to Texas on Monday to start working on the Hogan irons.
He won't start playing golf again until either the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines or the Nissan Open at Riviera, giving him time to prepare for the Match Play Championship.
Montgomerie has never won an official tournament in the United States, which Tony Jacklin recently called one of the great mysteries of golf.
It's really no secret. Unlike other Europeans, such as Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal or Langer, Montgomerie has never played a full PGA Tour schedule.
And he's not about to now.
'The need to play over here full-time now has disappeared because we play these tournaments anyway,' he said, alluding to the BellSouth Classic, The Players Championships and other events considered European tuneups for the majors.
Montgomerie believes the gap between the PGA Tour and PGA European Tour has closed significantly in the last 10 years, and he points to the Ryder Cup as an example.
Europe has won the cup in six of the last nine matches, and stunned a heavily favored U.S. team at The Belfry in September by winning 15 1/2 -12 1/2 .
'There was a time where 30th place in America was a lot stronger than 30th place in Europe,' he said. 'Now, I think that gap has closed, and it's closing all over the world.'
More from the Target World Challenge
Colin Montgomerie's Bio
Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall
Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.
Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.
After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.
Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.
Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.
On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.
The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.
Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings
Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.
Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.
Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.
Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Brooks Koepka
3. Justin Thomas
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Matt Kuchar
6. Brian Harman
7. Gary Woodland
8. Rickie Fowler
9. Chez Reavie
10. Bubba Watson
11. Phil Mickelson
12. Patrick Reed
On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:
Ryder Cup Points
1. Justin Rose
2. Tyrrell Hatton
3. Ross Fisher
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
1. Jon Rahm
2. Tommy Fleetwood
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Rory McIlroy
Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank
Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.
|T26||Rafael Cabrera Bello||-2||$46,996|
|T37||Charles Howell III||-1||$33,120|
|T60||Harold Varner, III||3||$15,696|
|T68||Tyrone van Aswegen||7||$14,400|
After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...
I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.
Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.
The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner
On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...
After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.
Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.
The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray
On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...
The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.
Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.
That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard
On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...
The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.
The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell