Monty's motto is home rule

THE 126TH OPEN: Ayrshire suits Montgomerie's game but provides a host of painful memories for a former champion

A strange thing happens when Colin Montgomerie packs his bags and heads for the Open Championship. No one has proved that an alien spaceship abducts and replaces him with a clone every July but they might as well do for all the use he is.

Four missed cuts in five years would not be something to boast about by any professional golfer but when you are regarded, quite rightly, as one of the best players in the world, that record is little short of a gross embarrassment. To describe Monty's record as mediocre would be to run the risk of being charged with gross sycophancy.

Which is extraordinary considering what he does across the Atlantic. Put "US" in front of Open and the Scot is in contention (two seconds and a third); leave the word on its own and the only thing he is in is a fast car heading away from the course on Friday night. Hot and cold, it could be two golfers playing.

So you could say Monty, 34, is under the weight of failed promise this week. Years of being built up as Scotland's brave only to fall on his own claymore are reason enough for a decent show at Royal Troon this week but he is, to risk an outbreak of singing, coming home. If he cannot perform well here then he might feel inclined to give up the Open as a lost cause.

Montgomerie, whose father James is secretary at Royal Troon, grew up alongside the course and his house was about 150 yards from the 18th green, so if local knowledge has any bearing this week then he will be at a significant advantage. Furthermore he is playing at what he describes as an unprecedentedly high level. Britain, Scotland and Troon expect and, frankly, they have every right to.

"I would be under more pressure if I wasn't playing well," Montgomerie, whose sole light in a murky Open past is an eighth place at nearby Turnberry three years ago, said. "I feel I'm capable of doing very well here and I've looked forward to it since it was announced the Open was coming here seven years ago.

"I don't feel under any pressure in any shape or form. The word `pressure' is mentioned mostly by the likes of the media and the more people mention it, the worse it gets. So we just avoid the word from now on, OK?"

Almost by habit, Montgomerie is at the Open Championship fresh from a good performance in America. He finished second to Ernie Els in the US Open at the Congressional last month but rather than brood over another near miss his form since has been better than satisfactory. A closing- round 62 won him the Irish Open 10 days ago while his 10th place at Loch Lomond on Saturday did not drain him as much as full-blooded contention would have done.

"Immediately after Congressional I was disappointed, yes," he said, "but looking at it afterwards I took a very positive view of the tournament. That's why I've played well since. I didn't lose; Ernie Els won and all credit to him for that. That was as good as I can play and if someone beats you all you can do is shake his hand and say `well done'."

Montgomerie himself seems mystified by his failure at the Open although he agrees he has left his best form behind at the Scottish Open (which used to be played the preceding week) before now. He is not wholly comfortable when the wind blows, which is the usual condition at a links course, either and there is also a chance that his body suffers a reaction to the expectation he places on himself at the US Open.

At Troon, however, he feels the wind problem might be nullified by his 18 years of playing the course and he genuinely believes his form has travelled with him from the States. "It might favour me if it remains breezy," he said wholly at odds to his usual thoughts, "because I've played the course in all types of conditions.

"I'm playing possibly the best golf of my 10-year pro career and obviously I'm hopeful about performing better than I've done in the past at this tournament. I know what I'm doing round this golf course. It's just a matter of trying to go out there and prove it."

If he does he will fulfil an ambition that has stirred within him since he walked past Royal Troon - which would not let him on the course until he was 16 - to play at the the neighbouring course of Portland. "It would be the ultimate sporting thrill," he said. "It's something any child growing up in Ayrshire would look forward to.

"I try not to think what it would be like coming up the 18th with a clear lead on Sunday but it would be the best feeling I could ever think about. This, to me, is home. It is where my family are, where my wife is from. This is it as far as major championships are concerned and it will be until it probably comes back here in seven years time."

Now, if the real Monty can turn up too...

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Caption competition
Caption competition
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
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone