COLIN Montgomerie has praised Andy Murray for his outpouring of emotion after the Scot’s heartbreaking defeat in the Wimbledon final and revealed he’d also shed tears in his quest for a major.
Murray has now tasted defeat in four Grand Slam finals – one fewer than the second-place finishes Montgomerie has had to his name in golf’s majors over the years.
It’s inevitable that their two careers are starting to be compared and Montgomerie admits he can see similarities between himself and Murray in terms of both passion and desire.
The Ryder Cup-winning captain said he believes that the big titles, both in golf and tennis, are a lot harder to win than a lot of people seem to believe.
But he reckons Murray has done himself a big favour by letting his emotions flood out after his four-set defeat to Roger Federer in Sunday’s showdown.
“He did a great job and for me one of the best moments of the final was his speech afterwards,” said Montgomerie yesterday before teeing off with Donald Trump at the opening of the American’s new course outside Aberdeen.
“He opened up to the fans. He showed them what it meant to him to be in with a chance of winning Wimbledon. It is similar to myself in many ways as people don’t understand the pressures involved in trying to win a major.
“I don’t think I was understood. I was trying my hardest to beat the world’s best and win major championships. If it was that easy, I’d have done it long before now, believe me.
“It’s not easy and Andy showed humanity, if you like, that we hadn’t seen before and that was nice to see.
“I was tearful myself after a couple of losses in majors. The 1997 US Open at Congressional especially, as I felt I should have won that one [Ernie Els pipped the Scot by a shot]. I was tearful going home that night.
“It does affect you. You are trying your damnest and sometimes I don’t think the public understand what is involved. I do think they understand now about Andy Murray as a result of him opening up to them. It came across extremely well for him and for Scottish sport, too.”
Montgomerie was the bridesmaid three times at the US Open – in 1994, 1997 and 2006. He was also pipped for glory in the 1995 USPGA Championship as well as the Open Championship in 2005.
Each disappointment spurred him on, however, and the eight-times European No 1 reckons that Murray shares the same hunger as he bids to break the stranglehold of Swiss star Federer, Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
“There will never be a moment when I think about throwing in the towel – I’ll never give in as a competitor as that’s what drives me,” added Montgomerie. “Far beyond the game of golf is the love of the competition. And I can see that with Andy Murray as well. I can see that he loves the competition as much as he loves the tennis.
“In tennis, Andy has that one-on-one situation and that’s why I love matchplay so much in golf. I could play against someone and show a real competitive edge against one guy when you can’t do that in a stroke-play event with another 150 or so players in the field.
“We are similar in that way and it’s why I will never give up as a competitor, no matter what I am doing. For instance, it’s not right to be trying to beat the boss [Donald Trump] today, but I will be trying.”
Montgomerie will also be trying to win this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, where another of the home players in the field, Richie Ramsay, is hoping to create golf’s equivalent of “Murray-Mania”.
Talking up the possibility of at least one Scot being in contention at the £2.5 million event on Sunday afternoon, the Aberdonian said: “You look at what Andy Murray has done in a massive tournament and the whole nation starts watching. I’m not saying everybody is going to turn on the TV and start watching golf, but it has an impact and there’s a feelgood factor that brings.
“If we can get someone challenging here, or if Paul [Lawrie] gets in the Ryder Cup, then there’s definitely a knock-on effect – a feelgood factor rolls through all of the players and the golf clubs.”
Montgomerie echoed that view but reckons it is unreasonable for people to expect Scottish golf to produce its own Murray overnight. “It would be great to have someone coming through of that level but we have to be careful here because we are only a small country and we expect a wee bit too much of ourselves sometimes,” he said.
“When we have a bit of success in one sport, we want it in every sport. But we need to walk before we can run here.”