Monty dejected as major mistakes mount up

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Following his victory at the British Masters on Sunday, Gary Orr declined the invitation to offer a warning to Tiger Woods before the USPGA Championship which begins on Thursday at Valhalla. The 33-year-old Scot said: "Watch out for what?"

Following his victory at the British Masters on Sunday, Gary Orr declined the invitation to offer a warning to Tiger Woods before the USPGA Championship which begins on Thursday at Valhalla. The 33-year-old Scot said: "Watch out for what?"

Orr will be making his debut in the championship, indeed he will be playing his first tournament ever in the United States. It will be enough to enjoy the experience and then set out to make sure it happens again.

For Colin Montgomerie, who was beaten into third place at Woburn when he had expected to win, it is a different story. He has already been to Valhalla, named after the place where heroes end up in Norse mythology. In 1996, when the USPGA was first played at the course in Louisville, Kentucky, Montgomerie missed the cut.

He had also done so at the Open that year but returned to Europe determined to equal Peter Oosterhuis's record of four consecutive Order of Merit titles and, of course, did so. The run has now been extended to seven money titles but greater recognition would come with just one major title.

At 37, however, and with Woods collecting majors as fast as they are contested, time is slipping away. Montgomerie has, perhaps, reached the stage where one might fall his way, or indeed two as Mark O'Meara found a couple of years ago. The reports from America suggest the rough has enjoyed a good growing season in the Bluegrass state, which will be welcome news for the straight- hitting Scot.

It will also be hot and humid, though, one reason Montgomerie has recently been exercising more and dieting. He has lost 16 pounds and could shed the same again over the next two weeks, with the NEC World Invitational being played in Akron, Ohio, immediately after the USPGA.

But events at Woburn did not turn out as planned after Montgomerie opened with a 64. On Sunday, playing alongside the leader, Monty birdied the first two holes to draw level with Orr but failed to exert the pressure that usually sees the smaller fry frazzle up.

He won the French Open and the Volvo PGA, for the third year running, in May, but since then he has made more of the mistakes that he is usually so good at avoiding. There have been plenty of birdies, but too many bogeys. On Sunday, there were five of the former but four of the latter, including two missed putts from less than three feet.

Although his third place behind Ernie Els immediately prior to the Open had been followed by an upbeat assessment of his game, the same was not true at Woburn. "I didn't play very well today, really? The longest putt I holed was from six feet at the first and that's not good enough. Yet again. Same old story, I'm afraid."

Yet putting was not the Scot's only problem. "I didn't drive the ball well, I didn't hit my iron shots well, I didn't chip well and I putted poorly. It's one of these things. I started birdie, birdie and played the next 16 holes in one over par. Every shot I hit gave him [Orr] confidence. Very poor for someone of my calibre to be doing that."

His dejection will not be improved by the draw for the first two rounds at Valhalla, which see him off in the afternoon on Thursday with Justin Leonard and Loren Roberts. They are two of the better putters in the world and either that will inspire him or magnify his own shortcomings.

"It will be a long day looking at all the scores," he added. Or, rather, the one score everyone looks for, that of Woods, who has been drawn with Vijay Singh and Jack Nicklaus and will be virtually finished by the time Monty sets off.

Comments