Colin Montgomerie will win 2007 U.S. Open
Sports writers like to make bold predictions, so here’s mine: Colin Montgomerie is going to win this week’s U.S. Open. Think I’m crazy? People have made wackier forecasts on this site. (I hear WorldGolf.com’s Bill Wolfrum, yet to reveal his official Open pick, is eyeing Bob Estes to go all the way at Oakmont this year).
This truly is the 43-year-old Scotsman’s year. And man is he due: 10 top-10 finishes in major championships since 1990, and five second place finishes. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks Montgomerie is finally ready to hoist a trophy.
OK, I’ll admit that there are a lot of factors going against Monty. Oakmont might be the longest U.S. Open track in history, and Monty is short off the tee, averaging around 267.6 yards in 2007 (183rd on tour). He’s one of the more accurate players out there (13th on tour in fairways hit, at a notch more than 70 percent), but his greens-in-regulation stats for 2007 are weak: 55 percent (183rd on tour). What’s more, he’s not scoring this year. His 2007 scoring average is 73.9, and his lowest round of the year thus far has been 70.
Still, none of this matters. Why? Because Montgomerie plays well in U.S. Opens. It’s his best major. He’s only missed one cut in 16 years (he did not play in 2004). Compare that to missing a total of six cuts at the British, six cuts at the PGA and another six at the Masters, his worst tournament, in which he’s never placed better than eighth.
Half of Monty’s career top-10s have come at U.S. Opens. Last year, he finished runner-up at Winged Foot - but would have taken the title if not for that double-bogey on the 18th (a choke that was overshadowed by Phil Mickelson’s disastrous collapse). Monty has played second fiddle in three U.S. Opens, including at Oakmont in 1994, a four-day summer squelcher in which he lost during an 18 hole playoff to Ernie Els (the now forgotten Loren Roberts was also along for the ride in that playoff).
“I haven’t been in great form, but it’s always nice to come back to a place where you’ve done well,” Montgomerie tells PGAtour.com. “I’ve played well here, and I’m looking forward to doing that again. I really am.”
There are other factors that could conspire to make this Monty’s week. He might be due, but so is Europe. The last European to win a U.S. Open? Tony Jacklin in 1970. Europeans traditionally have not fared well at U.S. Opens - though South Africans, namely Ernie Els (two titles) and Retief Goosen (two titles) have. Interestingly enough, Pgatour.com takes a look at this issue today, as does WorldGolf.com’s Brandon Tucker in his dispatch from Oakmont; Tucker says Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and England’s Justin Rose are among this week’s favorites.
Here’s the problem with looking for players like Harrington and Rose - or, as PGAtour.com does, Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Paul Lawrie - to break through this week: their U.S. Open records are weak, if they exist at all. Lawrie, the last European to win a major championship (1999 British Open), has played four U.S. Opens and missed three cuts. Casey, a hot European PGA Tour player right now, has played in four U.S. Opens and missed two cuts and withdrawn once. Donald has played in three; his best finish was 12th. Even Sergio Garcia, long (and incorrectly) thought to be the Europe’s next major winner, has struggled in the U.S. Open. He finished third in 2005 and fourth in 2002, but has never really contended other than that.
Of the Europeans still actively competing on tour, only Harrington comes close to matching Monty’s U.S. Open record: four top-10 finishes in nine starts, including two fifth place finishes.
Monty is not necessarily the Best Player Never To Have Won A Major (though he can contend for that title), but he is the Best U.S Open Player Never To Won A U.S. Open. He’s got the experience to pull through, and here’s what might be the real X-factor: He’s had a glimpse of victory…a sip, if you will. He’s been close, and on this very golf course, no less. That always has to be taken into account.
I’ll wait to see what kind of odds the PGA Punter lays Monty when he posts his blog tomorrow. But it won’t change anything. My money’s on Monty.
Anyone out there want to take my action?
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Pinnacle Sports Wagering has posted a line on Monty to win the US Open,
100 to 1, fairly decent odds considering his good results in past Opens, which you mentioned.
From the US, one can't make the wager unless he has a connection in the islands.
He also has a head game strong as putty. I'll look elsewhere.
That local caddie is an asset - guy's been a caddie at Oakmont for like 46 years. I'll take home court knowledge over some veteran pro caddie any day.
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