Montgomerie savours 'most important win'

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The Independent Online

It meant little that in July the competition had been a peerless Tiger Woods, while yesterday it was a hapless Kenneth Ferrie. No, not even the 27-year-old's calamitous 77 will take the gloss off a victory flourish that has taken some painstaking painting.

At times, Montgomerie felt it would never come; when the "Jakartagate" controversy threatened his glittering reputation, when a messy divorce brought his mass of insecurity to the fairways.

"This is the most important win of my career," the 42-year-old said, and not just because the 71 for a nine-under total took him back into his rightful home inside the world's top 20. "All the other wins weren't easy, of course, but they were expected. My life changed immeasurably two years ago [when he split from his wife] and I said then that the next will be the best. And it is. Especially here. This is one special place."

Not to Ferrie it isn't. Holding a five-shot advantage at the start of the final round, and then another of three shots with six holes remaining, it never looked likely that the sponsors would be called on to pay the Ferrie man, at least, not the £450,000 first prize that has propelled Montgomerie half-way to next year's Ryder Cup and to within £100,000 of the top of this year's Order of Merit. But this was about so much more than the mere points and prizes that would have signified Ferrie's second title of the year.

From the very first strike the Geordie's swing appeared doomed for an afternoon of jerks and judders that became faster and more furious as an error-packed afternoon grew older. It took Montgomerie just three birdies and nine holes to cancel out the overnight deficit and when they both stood on the 10th tee at 11 under it seemed that the killing would be mercifully quick.

But while the old Montgomerie would have effortlessly pulled clear, the new one, overladen with the doubts of "my hellish few years", let Ferrie off the hook he should really have been skewered on. So, after a three-putt bogey on the 11th and three-putt double-bogey on the 12th, Ferrie was back three clear and apparently home and hosed. And then the confidence started leaking again when he bogeyed the 13th with one of three three-putts in those last six nightmare holes.

If Montgomerie will remember just one shot of his second triumph on Scottish turf, then it will be the 50-footer on the 15th. "That swung the whole event," he declared. Not only did that twirling, curling prod of magic elicit a birdie it also, unarguably, made Ferrie's seven-footer for par look that much longer. He missed it, the gap was gone, and so, in effect, was Ferrie.

True, he did battle his faltering nerve and his errant tempo to match Montgomerie's valiant par at the Road Hole 17th when Henrik Stenson and even Padraig Harrington were, rather unbelievably, entering the picture.

But somehow you felt it was written that Montgomerie would find the inspiration up the last and, after Ferrie's weak putt off the green to 20 feet, Montgomerie's 90-footer from the left fringes finished four feet above the hole.

"I was not going to miss," he said. Even golf couldn't have been that cruel.