Colin Montgomerie, who dominated golf in Europe in the 1990s but never found individual success in America, finally got his first win on U.S. soil and his first major championship, all in one fell swoop.
Montgomerie, 50, won the Champions Tour’s Senior PGA Championship on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 to finish four strokes ahead of Tom Watson at the Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.
Montgomerie began the final round with a one-shot lead over Bernhard Langer. He increased the lead to two shots at the turn, then doubled that margin when Langer dumped an 8-iron into the water at the par-3 11th hole and made double bogey. Langer shot 70 and tied with Jay Haas for third.
Watson, bidding to become the oldest senior major winner at age 64, was 6 under on the day through 14 holes, but parred his way in for a 65.
Montgomerie won a record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles, including seven in a row between 1993 and 1999. But he never was able to break through with an official win on the PGA Tour or in a major championship.
He had some close calls in majors, finishing second five times. In the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he lost to Ernie Els in a three-man 18-hole playoff that also included Loren Roberts. Montgomerie shot 78 as Els and Roberts matched 74s and Els won on the 20th hole.
Montgomerie was back in a major playoff the next year, in the PGA Championship at Riviera. He birdied the final three holes to get in a playoff with Steve Elkington, but lost on the first hole of sudden death.
Els victimized Montgomerie again in the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional, beating the Scot by one shot.
In the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he had a 7-iron from the middle of the fairway to the 72nd green, but came up short, made double bogey and lost to eventual champion Geoff Ogilvy by one shot.
Montgomerie’s other runner-up finish in a major came in the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews, where he came home five shots behind Tiger Woods.
When it came to Ryder Cups, however, Montgomerie had no equals. He played on eight European teams, never losing a singles match (6-0-2). Overall his record was 20–9–7, good for 23 ½ points, just 1 ½ points behind the all-time record held by Nick Faldo. Montgomerie also captained a victorious European team in the 2010 matches at Celtic Manor.