Rejuvenated Monty Ready for AmEx

By Associated PressOctober 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- Colin Montgomerie would have preferred to take a week off and celebrate a European tour victory he calls the most important of his career.
 
But there's no time to stop now.
 
The American Express Championship starts Thursday, a $7.5 million tournament that Montgomerie didn't count on playing when his year began. It's a huge opportunity for him to make up ground on U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell on the European tour money list, another situation the Scot could not have fathomed.
 
And it's another chance to end his dubious record of never winning an official event in America.
 
``Never look back, always look forward and just got to keep going,'' Montgomerie said Wednesday. ``I look forward to competing here and trying to do well through the end of the year. I have just got to keep going.''
 
Suddenly, Montgomerie likes his chances against the best players assembled at this World Golf Championship, especially since renovated Harding Park -- a municipal gem on the western fringe of San Francisco -- is not overly long at 7,060 yards (par 70) and requires accuracy and position along the tree-lined fairways.
 
Confidence helps, too, and Monty's has rarely been this high.
 
He's coming off a dramatic victory last week in the Dunhill Links Championship, the European tour's version of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in that it is played over three links courses, with everyone playing St. Andrews twice. It was on the Old Course that Montgomerie made up a five-shot deficit, birdied the last hole and won by a stroke.
 
And it was his first victory in Europe in 19 months, which adds to the significance.
 
``I said the next win would be the most important of my career, and it is,'' Monty said after he won at St. Andrews.
 
He used to win with such regularity and he compiled a record seven straight Order of Merits. Then he stopped, and the downward spiral was unstoppable. In the midst of his woes on the golf course, Montgomerie went through a very public divorce that made his life miserable.
 
But in a year that was turned upside-down, he landed on his feet.
 
Montgomerie fell as low as No. 83 in the world ranking. His victory last week pushed him up to No. 16, with an opportunity to soar back into the top 10.
 
That allowed him to get into the American Express Championship, and he's now assured of playing in all the WGC events, The Players Championship and all four majors, where world ranking points are the highest.
 
The biggest surprise of all? He just might capture another Order of Merit.
 
Thanks primarily to two great performances at St. Andrews -- runner-up to Tiger Woods at the British Open and his victory last week -- Montgomerie trails Campbell by $140,325 on the money list with four tournaments left. Monty needs to finish at least seventh at Harding Park to surpass him, but all he wants is to be in range of the Kiwi when the season-ending Volvo Masters rolls around.
 
Of course, Campbell will have a say in that.
 
``It makes it very interesting for the next couple of weeks coming up, with this week and the Volvo Masters,'' Campbell said. ``There's three or four guys in the running.''
 
Along with holding off Woods to win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, he captured the World Match Play Championship in England last month to win $1.8 million, the richest prize in golf among official tournaments.
 
Next on his agenda is a World Golf Championship, which usually are played in America and have been dominated by American tour players -- particularly those named Woods.
 
``I've won a major. I want to win more majors, and also I want to win a world event, which I haven't done yet,'' Campbell said. ``So that's my goal. To achieve that, I need to play to a very high standard, and all the past champions as you see in the records ... they've all been great champions. So, it would be nice to be a part of history.''
 
That history starts with Woods, who has won nine of the 18 WGC events he has played that count toward official money, including the NEC Invitational last month at Firestone. He already has won the American Express three times in three countries -- Spain, Ireland and the United States (north of Atlanta).
 
Whether he's a factor at Harding Park might depend on how sharp he is, especially off the tee. Woods believe this golf course is all about position, allowing him and other players to attack flags from the right angles.
 
Campbell doesn't view it as all that dire.
 
``He can play on a telephone book and still be good,'' he said of Woods. ``He can adjust his game to any golf course we play, whether it's long, short, straight or bent or whatever. He can do anything with a golf ball, so he's always favored coming into a golf tournament.''
 
Campbell and Montgomerie have their work cut out for them. Only two European tour members have won WGC events -- Darren Clarke at the '00 Match Play Championship and '03 NEC Invitational, and Ernie Els last year at the American Express Championship in Ireland.
 
Els is unable to defend his title while recovering from knee surgery, one less player for Campbell and Monty to worry about.
 
Related Links:
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.