Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Colin Montgomerie, apart from being one of the greatest golfers in the world over the last 15 years or so, is also one of the most “human” sportsmen you will come across. You will never need the word “taciturn” when you talk about him, he is either “sweetness and light” or he looks, in someone else’s delightful phrase, as if he has just swallowed a Bumble Bee – a man who wears his heart very much on his sleeve. You live his round, good or bad, with him.

Everything you read about him has to make the obligatory point that he is the Best Golfer in the World Never to have won one of the four Major Tournaments. But, in spite of that millstone, he is simply one of the most formidable players you’ll ever see. His Ryder Cup record is absolutely outstanding. But the Major Win must drive him mad - you really feel for the man when you watch his error right at the end of the 2006 US Open, when he had the Tournament in his grasp, and threw it away at the last hole. This must almost have started to convince even him that, at 44, it’s never going to happen.

But, playing last weekend, at the K Club in Ireland, scene of last Year’s triumphant Ryder Cup, he beat a good class field to win the European Open, so here we go again. Although it had some luck in it at the end, a last round 65 is a last round 65, and when that score wins a Tournament by one stroke, it means that an awful lot of guts and character strengthening has gone into the day to achieve it.

Like Ballesteros and John Daly, Montgomerie, whether in light or dark mood, is one of the very few golfers you seek out to watch in any tournament. The bland, corporate safeness of so many of the current players is not for him, and I have always found him an exceptional, magnetic player to watch, whether he is thrilling you or frustrating you.

To win any major sporting event at the age of 44 is a pretty impressive achievement, and it gave me an utter twang of personal pleasure to see it happen last week-end.

This year's Open, at Carnoustie, is only a couple of weeks away, and we can only hope. He could end up in his career like Stirling Moss, who never won the World Championship, but is still thought of as a better driver than most of the World Champions who followed him.

It would certainly mean that few people would choose him as The Best Golfer in the World Ever, but, after the dust settled in years to come, he would find himself ahead of most of the players who had in their time lifted one of the Major Tournament Cups exultantly aloft on a Sunday afternoon. He has won 40 Tournaments in his time, and been second in Five Majors. You run out of fingers very quickly when you try to list those players who’ve bettered that record.

So let’s forget about Lewis Hamilton for a couple of weeks, and get rooting for Colin. If Golf in this country has a National Treasure, it’s Monty.


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