James Corrigan: Henman's fist pump brings out Monty's major flaw

View From The Sofa: Dunhill Links Championship, Sky Sports
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The Independent Online

Tim Henman knew what Colin Montgomerie was doing wrong in his opening 73. "He was the only pro whose ball was bobbling up and down on the greens," so the former British No 1 player who never quite won a Grand Slam told Tony Johnstone.

The Zimbabwe professional, working for Sky Sports last week, fully agreed and surmised that perhaps the former British No 1 golfer, who never quite won a major, needed less loft on his putter face. Sat next to Johnstone, Richard Boxall sounded concerned. "Henman didn't tell Monty that did he?" he asked. With that, silence fell over the Sky commentary booth as they envisaged the devastation if Tiger Tim had indeed passed on to Mongoose Monty a golfing tip, as three-putt followed three-putt.

Ever seen Kill Bill? Just substitute the samurai sword for a four-iron. But on no account imagine Monty in Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit.

Fortunately, Henman is not that stupid or brave and kept his own counsel as far as anything to do with his partner's game was concerned. Not that he wasn't qualified to pass judgement. One newspaper reported that in the first round of the Dunhill Links around Carnoustie, Henman outscored Montgomerie by six strokes. Granted, the forward tees the amateur tees used did make the beast of Angus around 600 yards shorter. But six strokes?

Henman is no hacker. In fact, since his retirement he probably has more time to play golf than Montgomerie, who seemingly spends every weekend at home. A member at Sunningdale, Henman plays off scratch and takes it very, very seriously. As Johnstone said, it is possible to recognise a keen amateur if they are prepared to fly up their own caddie to Scotland. With the airlines now charging exorbitant rates, most of us cannot be bothered to fly up our own clubs.

It proved well worth the expense, however, as Henman was the non-paid star of the opening two days of this glorified pro-am, which allows us the privilege of checking out the swings of Hugh Grant and Huey Lewis on an annual basis. Well, Henman was actually the non-paid star who was televised. The incredible one-legged Manuel de los Santos would obviously have overshadowed everybody, but apart from the occasional fleeting glimpse, Sky chose to cover the A-Listers on the first few days. (Incidentally, if you still haven't seen De los Santos hit a golf ball call it up on YouTube. It will make you feel yet more ashamed of your duck-hook.)

So step forward Tim and step backward Colin. There wasn't a Sampras in sight and nothing was stopping him.

His highlight came on Friday on the penultimate hole at St Andrews. Henman birdied the most feared hole in golf, going straight for the pin and rolling in the seven-footer. His little fist pump brought back a few memories, as did the wild, but refined applause on the little hill behind the green. Sir Matthew Pinsent, also in the fourball, ran up and hugged Henman and there was euphoria all round. What Fred Perry would have made of it, one could only wonder.

But hang about, where was Monty in these celebrations? Wouldn't it have made Henman's career golfing moment that bit more special if the eight-time Europe No 1 had been there to hold him aloft? Monty was out of the picture. He had just double-bogeyed the hole and cannot have been in any mood to high-five an amateur who was making him look stupid. They don't call him golf's finest team player for nothing, you know.