Colin Montgomerie was forced to hitch a lift with his father, James, on leaving the Wales Open last night after his £110,000 Bentley had been smashed into in the Celtic Manor car-park. It was one of those final days. Egos dented everywhere.
Not Jeppe Huldahl's, however, the unknown Dane who belied his world ranking of 377 to take his first European Tour title and the £300,000 winning cheque. At the start of this event, Montgomerie said that the victor at the Ryder Cup venue was bound to figure when it comes to selecting his side in 15 months time. He did not have Huldahl in mind. With respect to the 26-year-old, the nerveless manner in which he forged ahead of what had been a congested leaderboard going into the final round suggested this was no fluky one-off.
While more fancied foes such as Nick Dougherty (79) dramatically fell away, Huldahl fired a brilliant 67 for a nine-under total. In doing so, he fended off the charge of Niclas Fasth, the Ryder Cup man, whose 66 left him one agonising shot short. Nevertheless, it was a fine return to form for the misfiring Swede which will be widely welcomed in Europe, not least by Montgomerie.
Huldahl, meanwhile, was looking no further than the trophy in front of him. "I'm as surprised as anyone," admitted the man from Holstebro who previously did not have a top 10 on Tour to his name. "I couldn't feel my hands coming down the final three holes. I knew I was close but did not know how close until I asked my caddie on the 18th tee what I needed. He said 'par' and it was pretty emotional."
The winner of the other tournament – i.e: the one between the Ryder Cup captains – was Montgomerie. The Scot claimed whatever bragging rights were on offer by beating Corey Pavin by a shot. Not that Monty was leaping around with joy. After starting the weekend in a tie for eighth, he finished in a tie for 37th and is still waiting for his season's first all-important top 10. Little wonder he refused to talk to reporters following his 71.
Yet it seems there may have been more contributing to his mood than mere bogeys and pars. There was also the little matter of some rather costly, not to mention disrespectful, damage to his car. While Pavin was granted a police escort to the church from his hotel before playing yesterday morning, poor old Montgomerie was left to survey his pride and joy which had supposedly been safely parked in the valet area. A fellow hotel resident (female) clearly did not check in the rear-view mirror sufficiently. Crunch!
It was no laughing matter – honest – as Montgomerie had to jump in with his father while his Bentley was off in a local garage being repaired. Yes, it would be a long journey home to Scotland. But Monty will be back. For his motor and for the Ryder Cup.