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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  • Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.