Spectacular Paris glory for Montgomerie

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The Independent Online

Two of the greatest shots of Colin Montgomerie's career helped him to one of the most remarkable wins of his career in Paris today.

Montgomerie, eight strokes behind after four holes of the second round, won the Novotel Perrier French Open at Le Golf National by two after grabbing eagles at the 14th and 18th holes in a dramatic finale.

Only one ahead of England's Jonathan Lomas, hoping to celebrate his 32nd birthday with his first victory for four years, with five to play, Europe's No 1 for the past seven seasons hit a simply majestic 270-yard three-wood to a foot for a tap-in eagle at the 552-yard 14th.

Montgomerie, three clear when Lomas three-putted, was still not quite home and dry and that was literally the case when he went into water on the next.

But after Lomas had cut the gap back to one with a 20-foot birdie putt on the difficult 17th and then hit his second shot to the 514-yard 18th to 20 feet again for a possible eagle, Montgomerie's response was again out of this world.

This time it was with a six-iron from 178 yards. It carried the lake which he had gone into in the third round and landed less than two feet from the cup.

The 36-year-old Scot, left with two for it when Lomas missed, taped in again to claim the 28th victory of his professional life - one that has earned him close to £10million in Europe alone.

He finished with a 68 and 16 under par total of 272 and afterwards spoke of the two memorable shots.

"That three-wood is worth its weight in gold," he said. "It has a special cover and I never let it out of my sight.

"That shot (blind to a flag tucked in a corner over a ridge) ranks up there with the one in Dubai." Montgomerie won the 1996 Desert Classic by hitting a driver off the fairway over the lake onto the final green.

As for the six-iron he added: "I'll hit worse ones in my life!

"I had to shut the door and that's what I did. I was going to hit five-iron, but after seeing Jonathan's shot I switched."

The first prize of £116,778 moves him up from 23rd to fourth on the European Order of Merit he has lifted for the last seven years.

But he is still over £400,000 behind Darren Clarke, whose World Match Play win over Tiger Woods in February was worth a million dollars.

Part of the credit for his latest success was given to wife Eimear, who arrived on Friday when he was trailing way behind.

Multi-millionaire Montgomerie admitted that tour life is lonely at times. It is one of the main reasons why he has resisted joining the American circuit.

The world number three said: "It does relax me having company and going out for dinner.

"It gets me out of the room. I tend to be a bit of a hermit on tour and stay by myself.

"Tour life is lonely. It depends what type of character you are, but yes it is. Eimear should travel more often."

Another deserving of thanks was Pete Coleman, who stepped in as caddie for the last two weeks when Montgomerie's regular bag-man Alastair McLean went on honeymoon.

McLean returns this week, but Montgomerie said: "If Bernhard and I don't do very well we might swap."

Lomas collected £77,805 for his best performance since his 1996 Czech Open, while Australian Rodger Davis, at 48 trying to become the oldest winner in European tour history, was third three strokes further back.

New Zealander Michael Campbell, expected to mount the biggest challenge, fell away at the end to a 74.

Montgomerie, one ahead after his Saturday 65, made that two by resuming with a 15-foot birdie putt.

He and Lomas each parred the next seven, but then, when both were bunkered at the long ninth, Lomas was the one to get up and down and he went into the joint lead with a tee shot to six feet at the 192-yard 11th.

But he then three-putted the next and Montgomerie's wonderful finish denied him.


272 Colin Montgomerie 71 68 65 68 274 Jonathan Lomas 72 64 69 69 277 Rodger Davis (Australia) 69 68 70 70 278 Roger Wessels (South Africa) 69 70 72 67, John Senden (Australia) 73 67 70 68, Fredrik Jacobson (Sweden) 71 70 69 68 279 Robert Coles 74 68 71 66, Peter O'Malley (Australia) 68 75 68 68, Soren Hansen (Denmark) 68 74 68 69, David Gilford 73 69 68 69, Jean Van de Velde (France) 68 74 68 69, Carlis Rodiles (Spain) 70 70 68 71, Andrew Coltart 69 68 70 72, Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 70 66 69 74 280 Nicolas Vanhootegem (Belgium) 70 74 70 66, Jose Coceres (Argentina) 70 71 71 68, Nick O'Hern (Austalia) 69 70 71 70, Anders Hansen (Denmark) 70 65 74 71, Santiago Luna (Spain) 72 70 67 71 281 Robin Byrd (U.S.) 69 71 71 70, Miguel Angel Martin (Spain) 69 70 71 71