Golf: Monty gives the bird to Open bogey

Golf: Scottish hopes are growing for a home grown win at Carnoustie this week, and a $1m bonus for the local hero
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The Independent Online
FOR COLIN Montgomerie, there is nothing better than the green, green grass of home, and that is exactly what the Scot will find when he arrives in Carnoustie today. The scene of the 128th Open Championship later this week is as green and lush as a links can be, and that can only be good news for Monty.

Yesterday the 36-year-old was deservedly relaxing at Gleneagles after his 20th European tour success at Loch Lomond on Saturday. Far more importantly, it was the first time Montgomerie had won in Scotland, and the first time a Scot had triumphed on tartan soil since Ken Brown won the Glasgow Open in 1984. The lone piper gave it everything he had.

Montgomerie took the Standard Life tournament with a last round of 64 which contained as devastating a spell of majestic golf as has ever propelled a winner to victory. From the fifth to the 16th, a run of 12 holes, Monty had nine birdies and, before anyone else had a chance to lose the tournament, it was all over.

Monty's effort was bookended by dropped shots at the first and the last, yet he still came from three behind overnight leader Lee Westwood to win by three from a pair of Swedes, Mats Lanner and Michael Jonzon, and Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old Spanish prodigy.

This was a performance to rank alongside his closing 64 to win the PGA at Wentworth and the 62 with which he won the Irish Open in 1997. As Westwood found by winning at Loch Lomond last year, the low profile build up to the Open has gone out of the window, but Montgomerie has often stated that "nothing gives me more confidence than winning".

"How can I possibly feel any better than I do right now?" Monty said. "I can only go into the Open with confidence, and that's what a number of player aren't doing, I suppose, but I am one of the many who are."

Montgomerie, one of the biggest earners the game, with his victory taking him past pounds 7m in career earnings in Europe, has now put himself in line for a $1m bonus from Standard Life for winning at Carnoustie as well. Monty's Open record suggests their money may be safe. More often than not he has not even been around on the weekend to pick up any sort of pay packet.

Although it is unlikely the Angus coast will see four still days, the narrow fairways and the thick rough at Carnoustie will suit Montgomerie, who will practise here today and then take tomorrow off. As the course record holder, his problem, for a change at the Open, will be to guard against being too positive rather than not positive enough.

"You can start to think the game is easier than it is," said Monty. "My first tour victory was in Portugal in 1989 and I won by 11 shots, but the following week I opened with an 82 at Valderrama. Hopefully, I am more mature ten years on. I have to calm down and start again. I have to be confident and sensible at the same time."

It would be easy to get carried away by the sort of run which Monty at one point described as "reasonable" and at another, with the finger full on the irony button, as "rubbish". It started with a five-iron to within three feet at the short fifth, and ended in similar fashion at the 16th.

Holing an eight-footer for par at the fourth was the key, Monty said, but from then on his approach play was superb. The longest birdie putt was from 20 feet at the seventh, otherwise the Scot was more accurate than other people's lag-putting.

"I'm glad that, even with all the emotion, I was able to hit the ball exactly the right distance," he said. "At the 16th, I had 203 yards and hit a five-iron 203 yards. I could stand there a long time before I hit an iron shot as good as that.

"This is a special victory for me," Monty added. "I am from the west side of Scotland and to win here on a quality golf course against a quality field makes me very proud."

Garcia might have repeated Peter O'Malley's stealing of the Scottish Open from Monty at Gleneagles in 1992. The Australian closed with two eagles and three birdies over the last five holes, while Garcia got within one with three birdies in a row from the 12th.

But three putts at the 16th and another bogey at the last dropped Garcia into a tie for second. It was still a remarkable follow-up to his win in Ireland the previous week and took the Spaniard into the top 10 automatic qualifying spots on the Ryder Cup standings. It has taken five events for him to overtake all but six players when everyone else has been collecting points since last September.

Westwood finished four behind Monty, alongside Jesper Parnevik, and his final round floundered on a hooked drive into a bush at the tenth.

There was not a lot else wrong that a few more holed putts cannot put right and, after a disappointing couple of months, his third solid top 10 finish in a row came at the right time.

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