Colin Montgomerie relishing chance to scratch two 'firsts' off his golf bucket list
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – World Golf Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie is in prime position to do something he’s never done before: pick up an official victory in the United States.
Monty has also never won a major championship. On Sunday at Harbor Shores, he’ll take a one-shot lead into the final round of the 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid with a chance to snag both of those elusive "firsts."
The Scot, a 31-time winner on the European Tour who once won a record eight consecutive Order of Merit titles, used a spectacular back-nine, 3-under 32 in Saturday's third round that included a birdie on the final hole to shoot his best score of the week, a 3-under 68 to get to 7-under 206 through 54 holes. That was one shot better than Bernhard Langer and two better than the threesome of Marco Dawson, Bart Bryant and Kiyoshi Murota.
That final birdie was special. After a bogey at the par-3 17th dropped him into a share of the lead with Langer, Montgomerie went long with an 8-iron approach at No. 18 and was left with a slick, downhiller from 30 feet.
"Bloody good, because it was going a bit quick and I didn't fancy another one," said Montgomerie of the putt on 18. "After having missed one at 17, you don't fancy another one, do you? So thank God the hole got in the way, to be honest.
"That was a lovely way to finish. I was in the wrong quadrant of the green and I was in the wrong place, I was downhill, down grain and it was very fast," he explained. "I did hit it slightly fast, to be honest, but it held its line and thank goodness it went in."
For Montgomerie to come through Sunday, he's going to have to forget about his playing partner, Langer, who he has played with each day this week.
Forget him? Why, you ask?
Langer has long been known as one of the more meticulous players in the game and takes a little longer than most to hit a shot. Of course, you can't argue with his results: 42 wins on the European Tour, three wins on the PGA Tour – including the Masters twice – and 20 wins on the Champions Tour.
In the third round, however, Montgomerie seemed visibly annoyed at times by how long it took Langer to ready himself for a shot.
"Bernhard is different," explained Montgomerie, who has successfully teamed with Langer many times over the years in the Ryder Cup. "You have to adjust your own pace. There's no point in playing faster to make up for someone who isn't as fast. So you have to adjust your own pace and form and that's what I do playing with Bernhard. There's no point in me rushing around. I'm going nowhere on my own.
"So you just have to abide by what's gone on and you play accordingly," Montgomerie added. "And I know the situation, I've known Bernhard for 30 years and I played golf with Bernhard for 30 years and I've enjoyed it. We have had great success and great times together. I really enjoy walking the fairways with him. So you just have to adjust accordingly.”
A major championship victory is truly the only thing missing from Montgomerie's illustrious career. He's come close many times, finishing runner-up in the U.S. Open three times, as well as the Open Championship and PGA Championship once each.
Those "tragedies," as Montgomerie referenced them, will be far from his mind on Sunday. He's not interested in his past.
"This is why I've joined the Champions Tour here, to look forward, really," he said. "It's just great to come out here and to contend. The crowd were great today. Playing with a European, we're off last tomorrow, playing with two Europeans out there playing in an away venue.
"The crowd have really been fantastic since I joined the Champions Tour. Everyone has been very hospitable and charming in every way. It’s been a delight since I joined the Champions Tour and I look forward to playing golf tomorrow. It's a very good golf course, you've got to pinpoint your iron play and I would love to win, of course," he added. "I've said that when I first joined the Champions Tour, I would love to win anywhere, any time. If I put myself in positions, as I have this year, well, the door will open hopefully once."
VIDEO: Watch third-round highlights from Harbor Shores: