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Colin Montgomerie joy well-founded after US win

Colin Montgomerie savours his victory in the Senior PGA Championship in Michigan. Picture: Getty

Colin Montgomerie savours his victory in the Senior PGA Championship in Michigan. Picture: Getty

  • by MARTIN DEMPSTER
 

MARK “25 May 2014” down somewhere and remember it every time you need a pick-me-up. Recalling some top-class sporting drama, after all, should do the trick.

It was a day when we were reminded, primarily through Rory McIlroy pulling off a remarkable victory at Wentworth and, later, Adam Scott winning a play-off in Texas to remain as world No 1, what a wonderful game golf can be.

It was also a day that is unlikely to be rivalled in terms of Scottish players making their presence felt on so many fronts, two of which produced victories as Colin Montgomerie claimed the Senior PGA Championship in Michigan and Kylie Walker triumphed in the Deloitte Ladies’ Open in the Netherlands.

Add in Catriona Matthew, after being there or thereabouts, finishing third in the LPGA Airbus Classic, Stephen Gallacher storming through the field in the final two rounds to secure a share of fifth in the BMW PGA Championship and Wallace Booth tying for seventh in the Karsten Open on the Challenge Tour, then there’s plenty to initiate the puffing out of chests.

Montgomerie was certainly strutting like a peacock as he walked up the last hole at Harbour Shores on Sunday and who honestly could deny him such a special moment, the success in the oldest of the over-50s majors being his first on US soil in an official event?

Winning, as he did by four shots, was impressive on its own. To do so after first shaking off Bernhard Langer then keeping a charging Tom Watson at bay added considerable weight to the feat, one that has earned Montgomerie a berth in the PGA Championship at Valhalla in August.

Will this win erase the heartache the Scot suffered in that event in 1995, when he was pipped for the title by Steve Elkington, or the four other occasions he finished runner-up in regular majors? Of course not and he knows that, in particular, Winged Foot in 2006, when the US Open was at his mercy playing the last, will forever haunt him.

That doesn’t mean to say, however, that it should be scoffed at. When Montgomerie first dipped his toe in new waters after turning 50 last June, his overall game was not nearly good enough to win a Senior major. He knew that himself on leaving Royal Birkdale last July after failing to get within striking distance of the contenders in the Senior Open Championship.

That his weekend win did not come as a surprise, however – his lowest finish in seven 2014 Champions Tour appearances before this one was joint-16th – was testament to how hard he has worked to attain that standard and, boy, was Montgomerie’s golf impressive when the chips were down in the final round.

Working brilliantly with trusty caddie Alistair McLean – getting the Fifer back on the bag last summer was a masterstroke – it was like watching Montgomerie in his prime (a spell, remember, that delivered eight European Tour Order of Merit titles) as he hit 17 greens in regulation with dialled-in iron play.

“There’s a motto: ‘If you fail and fail, you come back and try again’,” noted Montgomerie as he savoured becoming the first Scot since Jock Hutchison in 1940 to hold aloft the impressive Alfred S Bourne Trophy.

“I’ve had a couple of failures here in America and close calls, especially in major championships, and it’s great to finally win.”

It should be kept in perspective but Monty has every reason to cherish this triumph as much as any of the titles that fell to him in the regular ranks. “This event has a feeling of a major championship and I was up against the guys that I had competed against on the regular Tour,” he said. “The standard of golf when you are over 50 is amazing – Tom Watson keeps improving at over 60, for goodness sake – so to sit on top of the tree at least for one day is fantastic.”

Well done to Walker, too. A winner in the amateur ranks, she has gradually found her feet since turning pro and now, having held her nerve to triumph in a play-off on Sunday, has earned her reward in the shape of a first LET title.

Like Matthew, she is coached by Kevin Craggs, who just missed out on a “Super Sunday” as the North Berwick woman once again put in a strong challenge at the highest level in the women’s game, a feat Gallacher is achieving more and more in the men’s game these days.

Yes. Scottish players certainly played their part in “25 May 2014” being a golden day for golf.

 

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