Montgomerie's record streak of playing in 30 consecutive Ryder Cup matches ended when, after teaming with Padraig Harrington in a 3-and-2 loss to America's Stewart Cink and Davis Love III in the morning better-ball round, he sat out Saturday afternoon's alternate-shot play.
It didn't matter as Europe won three of those four matches to open an 11-5 lead -- the biggest two-day advantage for either team since the United States led Great Britain & Ireland 12 1/2-3 1/2 in 1975, when there were four more matches than now.
'It's the first time I've missed a series of matches since God knows when,' Montgomerie said.
The answer: since 1991, or six Ryder Cups ago. Montgomerie didn't complain, despite a European-best career record of 18-8-5 that includes two victories Friday.
The 41-year-old Montgomerie admittedly was fatigued after playing 54 holes in about 30 hours, even after losing 36 pounds on a diet that began earlier this year.
'It was me running out of steam,' Montgomerie said. 'We were actually quite tired yesterday and it was my partner's decision to say, 'Why don't we go forth,' and I said, 'Fine, I'll ask the captain (Bernhard Langer) quietly.' There was no wrong in that.'
Montgomerie would be going through a stressful year even without the Ryder Cup, mostly because of a widely publicized and recently completed divorce.
He also has seen his world ranking slip to No. 62, despite winning the Singapore Masters and finishing third in the recent BMW International. He made the European team only as one of Langer's two wild-card choices.
'Through 1993 and '95 and '97 and '99 (and 2002), I played five matches all the time and this is the first time I haven't,' Montgomerie said. 'I didn't expect to play five times this time. I'm glad I've got two points out of three already and helped the European cause. That's why I'm here.'
Montgomerie also felt it made sense for one of Europe's five fresh rookies to play instead of him on a sunny, warm afternoon, and Luke Donald teamed with Sergio Garcia to beat Jim Furyk and Fred Funk, 1-up. Paul McGinley replaced Montgomerie as Harrington's partner for a 4-and-3 decision over Tiger Woods and Love.
Montgomerie didn't stay away from the course, effectively acting as a secondary captain to Langer. He rode around the course in a golf cart, monitoring via a radio headset the matches he couldn't see.
'There was a spare buggy, so I've got one,' Montgomerie said. 'I've always wanted a buggy, a cart or whatever you call them here in this country.'
Montgomerie isn't ready to put that cart before the horse, but certainly likes Europe's position. He can exit the Ryder Cup with a winning record for the fifth time in the last six competitions if he wins his singles match Sunday.
'I'm not into Ryder Cup records,' he said. 'It's a team event and that's why we are here. We are all here for the same cause. Right now, we are doing a bloody good job.'
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