Monty Slowly Climbs in Golfs Elite

By George WhiteOctober 4, 2005, 4:00 pm
So were all left to wonder, can Colin Montgomerie do it again at the age of 42? Can he rejoin the scrum at the top of the world rankings at an age when most gents are slowly winding down?
Well, remember, Vijay Singh is 42. So the answer to can he do it is clearly ' yes. The answer to will he do it is ' hes much closer now than he was at the start of the year.
In case you werent yet aware of the news from Europe last weekend, Monty won again after 46 tournaments and 19 long months of futility. His win at the dunhill links propels him all the way into the top 20 among the worlds best swatters as he prepares to play the WCG ' American Express Championship in San Francisco this week.
Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie reacts after sinking the winning putt on the 72nd hole of the dunhill links championship.
There was a time when Montgomerie was considered among the best in the world, of course. There was a time when he seriously considered making the move to the U.S. tour. But the 21st century has not been terribly kind to him ' Montgomerie finished 28th in the 2003 money race, his worst ever result. Last year, his marriage dissolved after an extended period of turbulence. He played mediocre golf, lets be honest. And thats where he stood as this year began.
This year, though, hes made a conscious effort to get back to where he was. He always has been a superb Ryder Cup competitor, going 19-8-5 since 1991. But this year he finished second to Tiger Woods in the British Open ' the highest he has ever finished in that event, where his next best effort was an eighth-place finish.
He had a notorious lapse of judgment at a tournament in Jakarta in March. He had to abandon his ball in grass beside a bunker as the second round was canceled in a thunderstorm. He reported the ball was lost overnight, causing him to replace it the next day. The ball wound up in a much more favorable position and Monty ended up in a tie for fourth place. Officials exonerated him, but the howls of protest are still reverberating throughout the European Tour today.
Today, though, Montgomerie has climbed to 16th in the world rankings. It pains him to say, but there were times in the past three or four years when he thought the days of winning had passed him by.
Oh, sure, he confessed, then rattled of a few reasons for feeling a little inferior.
The players are improving on this tour beyond belief. They see the rewards available. They see the lifestyle available. The financial reward is huge now on this tour, there's no doubting that. They are practicing harder, they are fitter, they are tougher, they are mental. They bring all of their mental coaches and fitness instructors with them and stuff.
And there's me at 42 having to compete with all of this, and it's nice that I can still do that.
Monty says he believes his best golf is still ahead of him. He may be the only person in the world who thinks he can retool and get back to being among the best four or five in the world. But he insists the world will be surprised.
Now whether I believe it or not, I have to believe it ' OK, he said, lapsing into his somewhat-tortured sentence structure. If I thought my best golf was behind me and all that I've achieved in the past behind me, I would not bother entering golf tournaments, no. No, no. I'll go into other areas of life without beating my head against a brick wall trying to do this job, believe me.
The win Sunday was the most important of his career, he says, more than his 28 European Tour wins, more than any of his high finishes in major championships. After all, when youre not sure if you will ever again play at this level, its terribly important to prove to yourself that you can.
Because all of the wins before, it was a bit of a roller coaster, to be honest with you, said Monty. The seven Orders of Merit just kept rolling along. I wouldn't say it was easy, but it was expected.
And then it stops. And then my life changed dramatically a couple of years ago and I always said to myself, the next win would be the most influential and the most important of my career. And this is it.
He says he no longer is interesting in money titles ' he vaulted into second on the European Order of Merit standings with the win, though he still trails Michael Campbell by more than $200,000. But what he really is playing for the remainder of this year is Ryder Cup points ' even though the Ryder is still almost a year away.
The Ryder Cup points are crucial at this stage, says Montgomerie. I want to play in Ireland along with everybody else on this European Tour. We want to be part of that, the European Tour.
But the thing he covets most, even more than a Ryder Cup berth, is to regain his position as a premiere world player. He decided at the start of this year that that is what he wanted more than anything. And it looks like he just might ' might ' get there.
I gave myself a goal of 25th, and to beat this so far is even remarkable for me. So I'm thrilled about that, yeah. But I had to do something about it. There were two options: I was sliding, I let it slide, or get off one's bum and do something about it.
And I did.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.