Colin Montgomerie, back in the winner's circle
Monty’s back. Colin Montgomerie finally was able to put something together at a European PGA Tour event, winning the European Open this weekend at Ireland’s K-Club. He finished with a Sunday round of 65, 11-under for the tournament. It’s not been lost on the media that Monty’s having a tough year. Actually, it’s been a 19th month drought since the last time he hoisted a trophy (which made my pick for him to win the U.S. Open last month all the more bold - and, as it turned out, stupid). I felt Monty was due going into the Open, and realize now that while he may have been, the Open is not the place that rewards almost-wins and slow-improvements. But he’s been playing very solid since missing the cut at Oakmont: last week he finished third at the Open de France. This weekend he was able to hold off a strong challenge from Sweden’s Niclas Fasth - one of the hottest players on the European Tour right now - to win the European Open. You gotta figure Monty’s momentum going into next week’s British Open makes him a contender. He’ll certainly have the home crowd behind him. Putts were the story in Monty’s victory. On Sunday, he drained a 35-footer for birdie from the apron on the 11th to take the lead, and followed that up with a huge 25-footer on the 14th and a 15-footer from off the green on the 15th. Perhaps more importantly, Monty was able to stare down some knee-knockers for par down the stretch to hold off Fasth - who helped matters with some late bogeys. “The last two holes I got fortunate. I was in the hazard at the last and couldn’t ground my club and then I holed a five-footer for par, so I had to work for it,” he told Reuters. “After nearly two years of a dry spell it’s great to be back, you wonder if it’s ever going to happen again.” Montgomerie is certainly a divisive figure. The media either love him or hate him, praising his competitiveness and dedication to European golf, or knocking him for arrogance (I for one found it unfortunate that he hired a local caddie at Oakmont last month and promptly gave him the marching orders to keep his mouth shut). Either way, it’s good to see easily one of the most successful golfers in the European Tour’s history back in the winner’s circle. I’ll hold off picking him to win next week at Carnoustie, for now - but Monty’s European Open title certainly improves his odds.
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