Montgomerie fired up by doubts over the Masters

The challenge for Colin Montgomerie is all too simple, if oh so imposing, here at the WGC CA Championship this week. Finish in the top four or miss his second Masters in 16 years and only his third major from the last 65. Aptly enough considering his nickname Stateside, it is this doubt that will fire him when he tees it up at Doral tomorrow.

The Scot was out on the course known as the Blue Monster by 7am yesterday, which is decidedly unMonty-like. While Tiger Woods is famous for overtaking the milkman on his way to practice rounds, sometimes Montgomerie has barely beaten students on their way to afternoon tutorials.

It just proves how seriously he is taking this mission. Last week, he changed the habit of a lifetime by turning down an appearance fee to play in Korea to go for the ranking points at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The result? Missed cut, missed payday. "No, the week didn't go to plan," he said yesterday. "Missed the cut by one. Very disappointing."

And very ominous. Montgomerie is currently ranked 66th in the world and must re-enter the top 50 by the Augusta deadline of 31 March. Otherwise he can only pray for a special invite from the green-jackets, which is about as likely as him winning "Rear of the Year". "This is my last week to make the Masters," he acknowledged. "I need to pull out all the stops."

Some in the game suspect the stops are pulling him now and theirs is a persuasive argument. Montgomerie is 44, going on 45, and in apparent freefall. Twelve months ago he arrived in town a member of the world's top 20; talk about things disappearing south. Yet Montgomerie has been here before. In 2004, he fell out of the top 80 and was universally written off. Within a year he was back in the top 10 and in possession of his eighth Order of Merit title. He insists the desire to scale the mountain remains. "I still want to improve, still believe I can improve," he said. "I'm lucky to be able to say that at 44."

There are a few aspects driving Montgomerie on, not least that burning urge to fill one of golf's most infamous major voids and so silence those Mrs Doubtfire taunts forever. Then there is Europe's showdown with the US in Kentucky in September. "I don't want to miss out on the Masters because this is a Ryder Cup year and, if you don't play, you lose out on all the precious points available at Augusta," he said. "If you're not there, you're on the back foot. And it does not look very good if the captain [Nick Faldo] is qualified to play in the Masters and you're not, now does it?"

It certainly would not look very good from his armchair. Three years ago he was absent from his first Masters since 1992. "My last round before Augusta [in 2005] was a 60 in Indonesia, for God's sake," he said. "So I was sitting there, in front of the TV, saying to myself, 'Hey, I can actually play this game, I could be competing there.' I don't want to go through all that again. I've had enough of missing majors, thank you very much."

So what are his chances of that top-four finish? Alas, on the extreme side of unlikely. All bar Padraig Harrington of the top 60 are in attendance and Montgomerie's recent record at this water park is hardly sparkling; last year's tie for 55th his best finish in a decade. At least he would have something else to occupy his mind should he fall short. Montgomerie is due to be wed the week after Augusta. He could help with the decorations.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat