Time for Monty to Look Behind Not Ahead

By Associated PressJuly 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
This is no time for Colin Montgomerie to get excited about Carnoustie.
 
He already has suffered enough.
 
The sometimes burly, often surly Scot should be positively chuffed with the British Open only a week away. Having gone 18 months without a trophy that belonged only to him, Montgomerie ended one of the longest dry spells of his career when his 6-iron somehow stayed out of the water on the 18th hole and he won the European Open by one shot.
 
It was his 31st victory on the European Tour, one more than Nick Faldo, trailing only Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer. It came three weeks after he shot 82 in the U.S. Open to miss the cut, and two weeks after he turned 44.
 
'It is just great at 44 to come back and win again, as sometimes that is the end of one's career,' Montgomerie said. 'And I feel this is a new beginning for me, and I can look forward now.'
 
Forward, in this case, starts with the Scottish Open this week at Loch Lomond. The grand prize is a silver claret jug at Carnoustie, where Montgomerie believes he still has time to end his 0-for-62 drought in the majors.
 
But he might be kidding himself.
 
Since the Masters began in 1934, only six players have won their first major championship after turning 40, and none has nearly as much scar tissue as Montgomerie.
 
No other player has been runner-up five times in a major without eventually winning one.
 
Montgomerie was in a three-man playoff in the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 1994 when he wore dark clothes in 100-degree heat and wilted. He ran off three straight birdies at Riviera in the '95 PGA Championship to get into another playoff, only for Steve Elkington to win with a birdie on the first extra hole. There was Congressional in 1997, when Monty took forever over a 5-foot par putt on the 71st hole and missed, losing again to Ernie Els in the U.S. Open.
 
And last year at Winged Foot felt like root canal without Novocain.
 
Standing in the 18th fairway with a 7-iron in hand, Montgomerie chunked his approach and three-putted for double bogey, finishing one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy. It was the worst collapse at Winged Foot, even though Phil Mickelson's double bogey was more spectacular.
 
There have been other not-so-memorable moments at the majors.
 
Montgomerie was riding enormous support at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2001 until splitting his pants trying to hit a bunker shot. No less an authority than Jack Nicklaus proclaimed him the U.S. Open champion at Pebble Beach in 1992 when he finished a wind-blown final round ahead of the leaders, only to see Tom Kite pull through.
 
Here he comes again.
 
The Scottish flag will wave proudly along the links of Carnoustie as Brave Monty rides again.
 
'It will be a battle whether he can use the emotional momentum from being in Scotland and the great support he gets,' Nick Faldo said Tuesday. 'He's been there enough times, I'm sure there's got to be a couple that scarred him. But you never know with Monty. He's on a bounce-back. Maybe he'll ride the wave all week.'
 
There is precedence for guys winning their first major after 40, but the list is short.
 
Kite was 42 when he won the U.S. Open. He had gone 67 starts as a professional before winning his first major. But he had only three runner-up finishes, and his heartache was rarely his own doing.
 
Jerry Barber was the oldest first-time major winner since 1934, winning the 1961 PGA Championship at age 45. Safe to say he didn't carry the same burden as Brave Monty.
 
Roberto de Vicenzo was 44 when he captured the 1967 British Open, and that was a year before he couldn't keep score at the Masters. Julius Boros was 43 when he won his first major at the 1963 U.S. Open, and he became golf's oldest major champion when he added the PGA Championship five years later.
 
Mark O'Meara won the Masters and British Open at age 41 in 1998. Although O'Meara had won 14 times in a solid career, his name was never the first mentioned in any conversation of best to never win a major.
 
Mickelson and Montgomerie were the favorite targets.
 
Lefty was only 0-for-42 in the majors, minus the train wrecks. He plays golf with flair, winning or losing, but Mickelson never really collapsed in the biggest events. His two close calls before winning the 2004 Masters were the 1999 U.S. Open and the 2001 PGA Championship, and both times he was beaten by a par putt on the final hole. That's no disgrace.
 
Even though Monty had more baggage, he did not get as much scrutiny as Mickelson because he had never won in the United States. But his record stands tall, with seven straight Order of Merit titles in Europe, eight overall, and enormous success in the Ryder Cup.
 
He's coming off a victory he called 'very, very important,' but one has to wonder if even Montgomerie truly believes a major championship is in his future.
 
The last time the British Open was held at Carnoustie, he won the week before at Loch Lomond.
 
'How could I possibly feel any better than I do right now?' he said at the time. 'I can only go into the British Open with confidence, and that's what many players can't say.'
 
He was asked Sunday if he had doubts he would ever win again.
 
'Of course,' he replied. 'There will be a time where I will have my last win somewhere, and I will always remember it. I hope it is not this one, but if it is, I will savor this for the rest of my life.'
 
Yes, he is looking forward.
 
But he has reached a stage in his career where the greater joy might be looking behind.
 
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.