Monty Covers the Spectrum of Emotion

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- One moment he's laughing, the next he's pouting. One moment he's choking, the next he's being accused of cheating.
When Americans need someone to heckle he's there, and when the British need someone to give them hope and then ultimately fail, he's up to that task, too.
Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie shares a smile during Wednesday's practice round.
Through it all, Colin Montgomerie's life as told through the prism of this country's tabloid writers seems like something out of a strangely cast soap opera. You know, the one with the ruddy faced leading man who gets his woman but inevitably fails with her, too.
Montgomerie is at it again this week, stirring hearts among his countrymen even though they know deep down he'll surely break them once again. The Open is back in his native Scotland, and the home fans want to believe.
They want to believe when Montgomerie says he's rounding back into form, even as his own form shrinks thanks to a new diet. They want to believe he can win the tournament he so desperately wants even though more cerebral thinkers -- that would be the British bookies -- make him a 60-1 underdog.
They want to believe even though Montgomerie pretends he doesn't really know what all the fuss is about.
'I don't have a widespread fascination by this event,' he told the press this week. 'You guys seem to do with me.'
Yeah, but it's hard not to when Montgomerie does everything but tape a 'kick me' note to his back and invite the tabloids to whale away.
Besides, you've got to love good theater, and the Scot provides it at nearly every turn. He does it without really trying because, it turns out, the Open really does mean that much to him.
Montgomerie tees off Thursday on the Old Course, trying for the 16th time to win the engraved claret jug they give to Open winners. He hasn't had much success in his first 15 forays, with only one top 10 finish to show for his efforts.
That won't stop the home fans from pleading at every turn, on every green, for their man to finally triumph even against long odds.
'C'mon Monty,' they'll call out. 'Go Monty. Go.'
It won't help. Their Monty may tease them, like he did with a pair of 69s to open with last year at Royal Troon, or the 65 he shot four years ago for the early lead at Royal Lytham.
But reality will eventually set in, as it always does, and he'll either fade or spectacularly implode like he did three years ago at Muirfield when he followed a second round 64 with a third round 84. Indeed, while Montgomerie's record in the Open may be miserable, some of the moments are memorable.
Some are even comical, like when he injured himself in a fall two years ago on his way to breakfast before the first round and quit after scoring 4-over for the first seven holes.
Staying upright can be tough, of course, when you're always carrying baggage.
It 1997 it was the expectations of one of the game's top players returning to the course where he honed his game at Royal Troon, only to shoot himself out of it with a 76 in the opening round.
Last year, it was the nastiness of a very public divorce that Montgomerie had to face questions about at every turn. And this year, it's the allegation that he cheated to make the cut at a European Tour event in Indonesia.
The divorce is now final and Montgomerie tried to distance himself from the cheating allegation again this week, saying it had been 'put to bed months ago.'
But, for those who missed it, let's recap.
Montgomerie failed to mark his ball during a rain delay in the second round of the Indonesian Open, then replaced his ball the next morning in a better position. Weeks later, after some other players made a fuss about it, he conceded it was a bad drop and donated his $40,000 prize money to tsunami relief.
Montgomerie ended up shooting 60 in the final round, which was just enough to move him up in the world rankings and get him an invite to the U.S. Open.
Even the dubious invite couldn't help Montgomerie snap a winless streak in major championships that's now at 54. He's 42, hasn't won anywhere this year, and only now seems to be realizing that time is running out.
'If I stop here and don't win a major, and the odds are going against it, we have to be realistic here,' Montgomerie said, 'I'll look back on the years I was No. 1 in Europe and the seven Ryder Cups I've played in and think, OK, well, that was quite successful, thank you very much.'
To which golf fans could reply, thank you Monty, for at least putting on a show.
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