Montgomerie plays for sympathy but is running out of time

For more years than he cares to remember, Colin Montgomerie has been known as one of the best players never to win a major championship. Twice a runner-up in the US Open, once in the USPGA championship, he's never quite got there.

For more years than he cares to remember, Colin Montgomerie has been known as one of the best players never to win a major championship. He's had the game - effortless repeating swing, terrific iron player - but his cause has suffered from flaws in temperament. Twice a runner-up in the US Open, once in the USPGA championship, he's never quite got there.

By general consensus, one of the reasons for the absence of a defining moment in Montgomerie's otherwise outstanding career, has been a failure to remain cool when the pressure has built up on him. Particularly in the United States, his relations with the galleries have been frequently subject to emotional disturbance.

This championship, his 52nd major, has seen a big change in Montgomerie's demeanour, brought about, he claims, by the widespread sympathy he has received following a rancorous break-up of his marriage. Ever since Montgomerie opened his heart at a dinner last Tuesday, he has played the sympathy card in the hope that it would lead to an upsurge of support at Troon, where he was born. He didn't miss a trick; amenable, unusually generous with his time, all to drum up encouragement. Montgomerie can not be blamed for this. However, it led to the impression that he was using the tournament as a form of therapy.

There are examples in history of men who turned the trials and tribulations of life to their advantage on the sports field. One that springs immediately to mind was the monumental performance Muhammad Ali gave against Joe Frazier in Manila in 1975, just three days after exposure as a womaniser wrecked his second marriage; another was Bobby Moore's magnificent form for England in the Mexico World Cup of 1970, after being held on a trumped-up charge of theft from a jewellery shop in Bogota.

If the 133rd Open provided Montgomerie with a refuge from his personal problems, it hardly fell into the dramatic category of Ali and Moore. Indeed, you sensed that self-absorption was never far from the surface, although the adopted persona appeared to work for him in the first three rounds, when support for him grew less out of sympathy than the notion he could mount the most serious home challenge.

Before Montgomerie set off with Mike Weir on the closing round yesterday, it was his contention that two birdies over the opening holes would charge up his supporters. "If I can do that, I may have a real chance," he said. It sounded as though Montgomerie was tempting fate. However, he appeared to be in a serene mood despite difficulties in club selection caused by a heavy breeze whipping in from the Firth of Clyde. Having cautiously taken the fairway bunkers out of play he lingered over his second shot, disturbed by a sudden gust of wind.

Considering the circumstances - the urgent need to make up ground on the leaders - an opening par was less than Montgomerie had sought, particularly as Weir struck immediately with a birdie. The second was safely negotiated after a shot in from light rough on the left of the fairway, but there was already a tentative touch to Montgomerie's work with his belly putter and it would cost him dearly.

Another par at the tricky 379-yard third meant that an early charge from Montgomerie had not materialised, but the galleries remained vociferously with him. Shouts of "Come on Monty," greeted him at every turn and he was welcomed at every green with an ovation.

Montgomerie launched into his drive at the fourth, a par five of 560 yards, and sent his approach left just off the putting surface to leave himself with the chance of an eagle. He had to settle for a birdie but at last he had moved his score along. At the next, there was more evidence of Montgomerie's uncertainty.

When left with a slick short putt at the par-three fifth, Montgomerie's confidence wasn't helped when Weir holed a bunker shot for birdie. There was now a sense of distraction in his play, uncertainties in club selection. It all seemed to be draining away. A missed birdie putt that hung on the lip at the eighth, followed by a bogey at the ninth, did for him. "I could have reached the turn at five under which would have still left me with some sort of chance," he said. "Instead I was dropping down the leaderboard." He fell further after double-bogeys at the 13th and 17th.

The dramas of golf are carried on the wind. It was all happening elsewhere, leaving Montgomerie to reflect on a closing 76, two over for the championship. Clearly disappointed, he said: "It's a long drive home so there will be plenty of time to think about this week. Considering that I had to qualify, how well I played for three rounds and the tremendous support I've had, not only in Scotland but throughout Britain, I will remember this Open for a long time." Time waits for no golfer and it hadn't slowed respectfully to a crawl for Colin Montgomerie.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices