Publicly, the world of golf welcomed yesterday's confirmation that Colin Montgomerie had indeed done just enough with his remarkable final round at the PGA Championship on Sunday to earn his place in next month's US Open. Privately, however, the welcome was as cold as January.
"The worst thing that could have happened to Monty and his reputation was him scraping into Pinehurst because of the points he won in Indonesia and that stupid drop," said a European Tour professional who refused to be named, despite Gary Evans at last breaking the silence over the affair.
"Those ranking points he won will come back to haunt him, big style. The fact is that he should been disqualified. No matter what he says, or however much he gives to charity, he will never change that."
Fortunately for Montgomerie, there was nobody who missed out because of him in yesterday's cut-off point for qualification through the world rankings for the second major of the year. In moving into 50th place, with that tremendously gutsy 66 at Wentworth that leapfrogged him into an all-important tie for 11th, Montgomerie cast his Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey out of the top 50. But as the Englishmen had already earnt his US Open berth, by finishing in the top 15 of last year's European Order of Merit, it did not count him out.
That, at least saved, Montgomerie from the embarrassment of yet more bitter statements from disgruntled players as those that greeted him on Sunday morning. Evans, a 36-year-old journeyman, marched into the PGA Championship media centre on Saturday afternoon determined to be heard and, among other things during a half-hour rant, accused Montgomerie of having "previous" and declaring that such miscreants should face bans from a disciplinary panel.
This unprecedented outburst led to George O'Grady, the European Tour's chief executive, to demand an apology and hinted that if one was not forthcoming, the Englishman would face punishment. There was no comment from Evans yesterday, although the Tour was not holding its breath in wait.
For as the unnamed source commented: "Evans might even decide to ride it out and take the fine just to keep the affair in the public eye. Monty and the Tour just want the whole thing dead and buried, but Gary has given it fresh legs. The rest of us will probably stay schtum until we see what happens to Gary, but if we feel he's being made an example of just for saying what most of us think, there'll be ructions."Reuse content