Before the week began it seemed too much to hope for. Montgomerie was mired in an ugly divorce, and his game was in even worse shape than his marriage. But he opened with a 69, added a second one the next day and, suddenly, anything seemed possible on the links where he had honed his game.
'Come on, Monty,' they cried, urging him on.
Montgomerie's weekend, though, didn't turn out like they - or he - hoped. He shot 72 on Saturday, then 5-over 76 in the final round to finish at 2 over, 12 shots off the winning score.
'Obviously today it just didn't happen,' Montgomerie said. 'I knew I had to go and score 7 under and unfortunately it wasn't to be.'
Still, he left happier than he arrived.
'It was wonderful, a wonderful experience I've had this week,' Montgomerie said. 'I'll always remember it. I'm going home now, a long way home. And I'll think about the whole experience this week, the whole thing. I'll look back in years to come and remember this.'
Montgomerie stayed at his father's house and walked daily to the course, basking in the attention his countrymen paid him. He found some love, and also some of his game he thought was missing at the age of 41.
'A lot of positives from this tournament. Knowing I can still win this championship if it all goes your way,' he said. 'It has to go your way, and it didn't today.'
Davis Love III was thrilled when the crowd stood and cheered for him as he walked to the 18th green. Unfortunately for Love, it wasn't because he was leading the British Open.
Love played well, but never really made a move. The standing ovation came when he hit a 6-iron from 192 yards into the cup on the final hole.
'I've had them clapping a lot when I've been coming up there but I've never had them jump to their feet so that was exciting,' Love said. 'It's fun just to get to play up the 18th on Sunday let alone have the stands full and have them cheering for you.'
Love, whose best finish in an Open came last year when he tied for fourth at Royal St. George, finished with a 67 that put him in a tie for fifth at 279.
Love said he let an early tee time in the first round get to him, shooting a 72 the first day that left him well off the pace. He came back to shot 69-71-67 the next three days, but it wasn't enough to make him a factor on the final day.
'To get up in the top 10 shows I was grinding it out all week,' Love said. 'I had some bad holes this week and didn't play to the best of my abilities. But I ground it out and got a good finish.'
The eagles came one right after another, three of them in a row when it really counted on the par-5 fourth hole.
Thomas Levet of France started it all by chipping in from behind the green for his 3. Playing partner Barry Lane then sunk a 20-footer to match the eagle.
In the group just behind, Phil Mickelson had a 40-yard pitch to the green. He, too, holed it, much to the amazement of the fans gathered to watch.
Mickelson's playing partner, Retief Goosen, could have made it four in a row, but missed his eagle putt and had to settle for birdie.
None of them could match what Gary Evans did in the opening round on Thursday, though, holing a 5-iron from 227 yards for the rarest of golf course sightings, a double eagle.
In Sunday's final round, the fourth hole played the easiest of all, with four eagles and 18 birdies for an average of 4.68.
After failing to contend on the weekend, Vijay Singh is planning to do something unusual for him - take some time off to prepare for the next major championship.
Singh, who opened with a 68 in the British Open but fell out of contention with a 76 in the third round, said he will take two of the next three weeks off to get ready for the PGA Championship.
'I just have to go and rethink what I need to do. You can't be making so many simple mistakes in majors,' Singh said.
Singh, who has played in 20 tournaments already this year and rarely takes a week off, said his putting let him down this week.
'I have to fix my putting. I feel like I'm putting well but the balls are not going in. So I can't be putting well,' Singh said.
BACK TO WORK
Jerry Kelly made the cut on the number, but was unable to move up the leaderboard and finished the British Open at 7-over 291 - just in time for lunch.
The only disappointment Sunday was not being able to leave sooner. Kelly likes Scotland just fine, but the Greater Milwaukee Open - his home tournament - starts Thursday, and he would have liked to get an extra day of rest.
'We looked at everything imaginable,' Kelly said. 'There's just no way out.'
Mark Calcavecchia wouldn't mind if every British Open was held at Royal Troon.
Calcavecchia won his only major championship at Troon in 1989, then came back to finish in a tie for 10th when it returned in 1997.
If he would have played as well in the first and second rounds as he did on the weekend, he might have been a factor in this Open at the age of 44.
Calcavecchia barely made the cut with opening rounds of 72-73, then came back on the weekend to shoot 69-68.
'It seems like I struggle every week just to make the cut on the nose and when I do that I run out of gas on the weekend,' Calcavecchia said. 'Here was the opposite. I looked at it as a positive, came out with a lot of energy and a good attitude for the weekend.'
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