COLIN Montgomerie is set to head into his first full year of playing in Senior majors in good fettle after recording his best performance in 13 starts on the Champions Tour.
A closing nine-under-par 62 for a three-round total of 199 secured joint-second place for the 50-year-old in the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach in California, where Fred Couples birdied the last two holes for a one-stroke victory.
“Good week at @Toshiba Classic, best finish on @ChampionsTour so far,” posted Montgomerie on Twitter after securing his third top ten of the year on the US circuit, having already chalked up a joint-tenth in the Allianz Championship then a share of sixth in the ACE Group Classic, both in Florida.
The Scot, who pocketed $128,000 for this effort and has amassed earnings of just under $230,000 on the lucrative Champions Tour already this year, now moves on to Mississippi for the next 54-hole event starting there on Friday.
The circuit then has a month’s break before gearing up for the first of the five over-50s majors, the Senior PGA Championship, which is returning in May to Harbor Shores in Michigan, where England’s Roger Chapman recorded the first leg of his fairytale major double just two years ago.
While it won’t affect him, Montgomerie’s views on changes announced yesterday to the European Tour’s Final Series could be interesting given that he accused players of acting like “royalty” with their complaints about it last season.
They led to a review, which has prompted a requirement to play two out of three events prior to the DP World Tour Championship being scrapped; the field for that season-ending event now featuring the leading 60 available players from the Race to Dubai after the preceding Turkish Airlines Open rather than only those finishing inside the top 60 and an increased bonus pool of $5 million being opened up to the top 15 on the money-list rather than the top ten.
In addition, prize money on the Race to Dubai will be converted into points (one euro equalling one point) with each Final Series event will then carry a total of 10 million points, with the winner receiving 1,666,600.
Stephen Gallacher, sitting seventh in the Race to Dubai at present, has retained 37th spot in the world rankings, while in the amateur standings Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil has jumped 38 spots to 63rd after his second-place finish in the European Nations Cup in Spain.
Elsewhere, Juli Inkster is being touted to lead the US in next year’s Solheim Cup in Germany, while Lloyd Saltman shot rounds of 68 and 71 to win £2,000 on the Jamega Tour at Quinto do Vale in Portugal.