Monty hoping for a good deal of major fun at Carnoustie
So many times he's been so close to winning a major championship, and so many times he's watched someone else hoist the hardware. But Scotland's Colin Montgomerie comes to Carnoustie in his home country fresh off a win and flush with confidence.
By T.J. Auclair, PGATOUR.com Interactive Producer
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- It's become an Open Championship tradition. Each year on the eve of golf's oldest major, Scotland's Colin Montgomerie makes his way to the interview room to meet with the media.
The reception is always grand and Wednesday was no exception. As the rain poured down at Carnoustie, dozens of photographers crammed into spots and took cover on each side of the media center entrance, waiting patiently for Monty to walk in.
It's been joked that Montgomerie provides the greatest Wednesday interview in all of golf, because he's cheery and playful. In the past, once the tournament starts and if things aren't going his way, Monty isn't so pleasant to deal with.
As for this particular Wednesday, the Monty that showed up was the pre-tournament Monty everyone knows and loves, throwing out punchlines worthy of the crash of a symbol.
Here's a sampling:
Fresh off his first win in 19 months at the Smurfit Kappa European Open and asked if he still considered himself in his prime, Montgomerie snapped, "I hope so, I just won 10 days ago. I think I'm fine that way. I've just beaten 155 other competitors in Europe; it's not a bad effort."
His take on the recent mobile-phone ban at the Open Championship: "I'm fine with photographers on the course; it's fine for me. It's the other players that I feel that that was brought in for. The likes of Retief [Goosen], and people like that, the people that really get upset over these type of things. I'm fine."
His strategy on playing the 18th hole at Carnoustie, a par-4 that plays at nearly 500 yards: "Yeah, it's one of the toughest holes, if not the toughest finishing hole -- 499 yards. Last night, I hit a driver and a 3-wood in there. It was 10 foot, by the way. That was world beating."
Did he make the putt?
"No, I didn't even bother," he said.
The fact of the matter is, love him or not, the only thing missing from Montgomerie's impressive career is a major championship. He's come close on many occasions, including five second-place finishes, most recently in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
"That was the one that I sort of really should have done better in the report card on that particular system," Montgomerie said of Winged Foot. "But never mind, there you go. Now we're a year later and we'll see how we do here."
Montgomerie, 43, is the most prolific British winner in European Tour history with 31 titles. Of course he wants a major to add to that resume and one here at Carnoustie would be sweet. Aside from being in his homeland, Carnoustie is also a place where Monty holds the course record of 64. That was an 8-under par mark on the par-72 track, which will play to a par 71 this week.
"Sixty-four was bloody good," Montgomerie laughed. "World-beating in fact."
Even as he gets older, Montgomerie is always on the short list of potential players to put an end to the major-win drought for Europeans, which now stands at 31. Coincidentally, the last European to win a major was Scotland's Paul Lawrie here at Carnoustie in 1999 -- which provided another priceless Monty quote.
Monty was asked what he would have said if someone had told him that a Scot would walk away with the trophy that week.
"I'd have said thank you," was his response. That wasn't a knock on his countryman Lawrie, as Monty surely was the more likely candidate to bring home a win for the Scots. After all, he entered the 1999 Open -- where he finished in a tie for 15th -- fresh off his fourth victory of the season the week before at Loch Lomond.
"But I was so glad for Paul, and I wish him well again tomorrow," Montgomerie said. "It must bring back incredible memories for him playing here again, and of course I wish all the Scottish players that qualified well. I just go out with my own thoughts and my own game and my own control and see what happens."
So what's been holding Monty back in the majors? He's deadly in the Ryder Cup, where he's been a member of five winning European teams and compiled a 20-9-7 record overall, but just can't seem to finish it off in the majors.
"I've just got to try to accelerate through the putts," he said. "I haven't been doing that recently, and I didn't do it last week and I just about got away with it at the K Club there. And I was accelerating yesterday in the practice round and I will do during the Championship and accelerate through the putts. They were going in yesterday. So let's hope they will go in over the next four days."
Why has he had the problem with accelerating through the putts?
"If I knew all those answers, I tell you what, I'd have won a lot more tournaments, I'll tell you," he said. "It's amazing how that knowing what to do and knowing technically what to do and it doesn't always transfer down to what you're physically doing when one's under pressure or one is in a championship of this degree.
"I'll be giving it a go, and very few putts will be short this week and that's the goal of mine. I'm putting this week in a, not in a so-called Ryder Cup mode, but a match-play mode. I'm thinking of every putt here as a halve. Every putt I have in a match-play sense for a halve is never short; it can't be.
"So I'll give myself a go, I've got to. And that's what I'll be doing."