Monty May Respond to Home Sweet Home

By George WhiteJuly 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
Its been 37 years now since Colin Montgomerie first trundled out to play golf at Royal Troon. He was four years old then, and of course he didnt play on the big layout. He grabbed a little iron and swatted the ball around a childrens course at the club. It was, as Montgomerie said, just holiday golf.
 
The Montgomeries lived in northern England where Colins father, James, was president of Fox Biscuits. But the family had a summer home in Troon, and little Colin would pass the time flailing away while his parents actually played. Life is so simple when youre a sub-teen, you know.
 
Montgomerie is 41 now, a man who plays golf for a living. Colin would win the European Tours money title seven consecutive years. He has known the highest of highs since he started. But this year he has also experienced the lowest of lows ' the breakup of his marriage to wife Eimear. As he met the media at Royal Troon prior to this years edition of the British Open, he says he finally has come to grips with the split.
 
Professionally, though, its been difficult getting back to Troon. Montgomerie had to go through qualifying for the championship for the first time since the beginning of his career.
 
But it was worth it to be here, he said of the qualifying experience at Sunningdale outside London.
 
He isnt the favorite this time around ' far from it. British bookies peg him at 80-to-1. Monty says theyre probably right, although he hopes for a surprise or two. We've had some nonfavorites winning this tournament before, he reminds, so who knows? Who knows?
 
He would seem to have an enormous advantage, playing at the course where his father became secretary (general manager). Montgomerie would move to the town with his family in his teens and live until he went away to America to go to college at Houston Baptist.
 
I've definitely played this course more than anyone else in the field, he said. I'm the only member playing, I think. I don't know how many times one plays a golf course. Hundreds and hundreds of times, I suppose.

Monty wasnt allowed to play the big course until he passed the age restriction at 16. He played the childrens course at Troon, graduated to the shorter Portland course at 12. But when he was old enough to play the tournament course, he was a constant fixture until he left for America.
 
He contemplated sneaking onto the big course, but never had the nerve to try. The secretary at the time, Colin recalls, was a real hard nut. You never break rules around these type of places, and I wasn't prepared to do it either. ... I had to wait until 16 before I was able to play.
 
Montgomerie was 11 when Tom Watson won at Troon. By the time Mark Calcavecchia won here in 1989, Montgomerie was 25 and well into his professional career. After his return from a four-year stint at Houston Baptist, Montgomerie had at first considered going to work for sports-agent giant IMG. However, the job interview was conducted during a round of golf. Monty was 6-under after 10 holes, and the IMG personnel had seen enough.
 
You shouldnt be working for us, they said. We should be working for you.
 
That was in 1987. Montgomerie took their advice and turned pro, and by 89 he was winning tournaments. In 1993 he had advanced to become the leading European Tour money winner, a title he held until 2000.
 
But injuries began to take their toll, and so did an unrelenting personality that left him unable to deal with being runner-up. The quest for perfection finally led to the shattered marriage this year. Montgomerie sank to No. 28 on the European money list last year and this year is still only 27th - a far cry from the golfer who won all those Order of Merits in succession.
 
But maybe he can resurrect something this week on Royal Troon, a course he knows so intimately. He shot 68-69 in Open qualifying June 28, the first decent thing that happened to me on a golf course for a long time. And that was a big day for me and I feel that I've relaxed since then.
 
So, is this the week for a major upset ' Montgomerie as the British Open champion? Monty is OK with the thought ' not just earning a top-10 finish, but carting off the claret jug.
 
The reason I'm here is because I think I can still win, said a resolute Montgomerie. And that's why I'm here. That's why I entered, that's why I qualified - because I feel that I can still win. If I didn't feel that way I wouldn't be here.
 
So although my expectations are lower personally than they were, say, in '97, having been one of the favorites, I still feel deep down there's an opportunity to be here. And that goes for any tournament I enter.
 
Spoken like the pugnacious one. Monty may not be as good as he once was in the 90s, but dont bother trying to tell him. Hes at his old home in Troon, hes out on the golf course, and he finally has a sliver of self-confidence. Whos going to say, You cant?
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.