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Colin Montgomerie plans to practice less than normal to stay fresh. (Photo: Getty Images)
Colin Montgomerie plans to practice less than normal to stay fresh. (Photo: Getty Images)

Major miss is Montgomerie's motivator this week

Rather than trying to forget the closing double-bogey that robbed him of the U.S. Open, Colin Montgomerie analyzed what happened at Winged Foot and says he'll be more motivated at Royal Liverpool because of it.

HOYLAKE, England (PA) -- Colin Montgomerie intends using one of the most crushing moments of his career as an added spur in the Open Championship.

Rather than trying to forget the closing double-bogey that robbed him of the U.S. Open last month Montgomerie says he will be more motivated at Royal Liverpool because of it.

"You either don't want to learn from it or you do, and hopefully we're going to learn from it," Montgomerie said after analyzing what happened with his sports psychologist Hugh Mantle. "I'll only stop thinking about it if I win one. We've been through it all and hopefully if that occasion happens again in the not-too-distant future I will be able to cope in a different way.

"I expected to win on the 18th fairway. I'd done the hard thing," he admitted. "But expecting to do something is dangerous in golf. It's always harder when you're expected to do something rather than just hoping. I should have just hoped."

Having just holed a 50-foot birdie putt on the 17th at Winged Foot, Montgomerie thought his long, long wait for a major title was about to end when he hit a brilliant drive down the dangerous last. But after switching from a 6-iron to a 7-iron for his approach to the green, he came up short right in deep rough, chipped long and three-putted for a 6.

Part of the talks Montgomerie had with Mantle in the aftermath of the traumatic day was about what happened before he hit that bad second shot. He had to wait several minutes because playing partner Vijay Singh needed a referee.

"It wasn't just a 7-iron to a green. There was a lot more involved and we're been through it all," added Montgomerie. "I'm convinced that if I was to go up to that ball at my usual pace and hit it, I'd have probably won.

But you have to play according to your playing partner and the rules. If I'd been in the tent, he would have had to wait on me," he explained. "It's amazing what runs through the mind at that stage."

Since his fifth runner-up finish in majors -- a record for someone who has never won one -- Montgomerie has been in contention in the tournaments he has played since, and his confidence remains high.

The Open, of course, is the event in which he was second to Tiger Woods at St. Andrews last year, and since there was nothing like as dramatic as Winged Foot at the end, he is still feeding off the good memories 12 months on.

"What really changed my season around was beating Tiger on the Saturday playing with him. That was most important for me and showed me that I belong," he said. "It gave me my self-belief back and that's all I needed. If I believe I can do something I'm halfway there.

"This is the second-best I've played coming into an Open. In 1999 I'd finished third or something in the Irish Open and won [the Scottish Open the week before]," he said. "If someone had said a Scotsman was going to win the Open, I would have said 'Thank you very much.' But as you know Paul Lawrie won."

Since then, Montgomerie has opted for a more laid-back approach in the final days of the build-up.

"I used to practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and leave all my good shots out there," he said. "Now I have one practice round and I'll do that Tuesday evening -- start about 5:00 p.m. and finish about 10. It's great. Nobody seems to be bother me."

Montgomerie is not taking the week lightly, though. He has already been twice to Royal Liverpool, which is hosting the Open for the first time since 1967, and likes what he sees.

"The course is set up fantastic," he said. "It's a good, demanding test of golf."

Asked if his fantastic Ryder Cup record made up for not winning a major, Montgomerie replied: "There are three things in my career -- the majors, the Ryder Cup and the Order of Merit. I've got two of them and it's the major thing that's eluded me to this stage.

"The Ryder Cup has been a bonus, so have the Order of Merits. I wouldn't give any of them away for a major, not one, but you never give up," he said. "It's given me something to work towards and I look forward to it. I look forward to enjoying myself, and if I enjoy myself I usually play well."

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