Monty may not have won a major championship but his last victory was at the Million Dollar Challenge in Sun City last December and, as winner of the European Qualifier for the Andersen Consulting World Championship, he will be after another $1m first prize at the Finals in Arizona next January. Playing in appropriate million dollar fashion, the Scot, who beat Jose Maria Olazabal on Monday, first beat Sam Torrance, last year's European winner, 6 and 4 and then beat Costantino Rocca 5 and 4.
Montgomerie has never won in America but will only to have win two more 18-hole matches to break his duck. The first will be against the winner of the International section, which is yet to be decided but last year produced the overall champion, Greg Norman. Victory would see him into the final against either Davis Love or Hajime Meshiai.
Even losing twice would guarantee him a further $100,000 on top of the $200,000 he won yesterday. That would be unlikely on his form yesterday, when he was 14 under par for the 28 holes he played. Against Rocca he had seven birdies, but was also putting for birdie on the other seven holes.
"I drove the ball so well that I gave myself chances on every hole," Montgomerie said. "And I set up so many opportunities that I could not have failed to hole some of them."
Montgomerie had been so disillusioned with his putting that he had his equipment company deliver three new putters to his home on Monday night. After practising on the living room carpet, he picked out one, threw all the others out of his car boot and made his way to The Buckinghamshire club at six in the morning for an hour and a half's practice before breakfast.
"I have never worked so hard and I have never been at a course so early. There were only a few greenkeepers around," he said. "I've never been in America for New Year and I'm looking forward to the PGA this week because Wentworth is a good driver's course."
Rocca, wearing Tiger Woods' favoured red colours, won the first with a birdie four after Montgomerie's second caught a bunker, but then the Scot took four of the next five holes. Rocca did not do much wrong, and produced an exquisite shot from the rough at the 13th to get back from five to four-down. But the Italian failed to get up and down at the par- three 14th and that was that. In the morning, Montgomerie was off and running against his countryman when he holed from 30 feet at the fourth and 20 feet at the next. Torrance did not help himself by missing the seventh green from the middle of the fairway, and then driving into the water in attempting to drive the green at the short par-four eighth. "I made it easy for him," Torrance said.
Montgomerie's only dropped shot of the day came the 10th, when he took three putts from long range, but then closed out the match with birdies at three of the next four holes. He then had a lengthy wait to see who he would play.
Darren Clarke was three up on Rocca after four holes and while the Italian immediately regained two of those holes, he had to wait until Clarke had a bogey at the 14th to draw level. They halved the last four holes before Rocca won at the 19th hole.
ANDERSEN CONSULTING WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP (18 holes matchplay, The Buckinghamshire, Denham): Semi-finals: C Montgomerie (GB) bt Sam Torrance (GB) 6 and 4; C Rocca (It) bt D Clarke (GB) at first extra hole. Final: Montgomerie bt Rocca 5 and 4.Reuse content