COLIN Montgomerie held off Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer to win the US Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Michigan.
One in front heading into the final round, the 50-year-old Scot signed off with a 65 for a 13-under-par total to win by four shots from Watson after he came within a shot of matching his age with the same closing score.
It was Montgomerie’s first victory in an ‘official’ event on American soil in 135 events and, after five runner-up finishes in regular ones, a career-first major.
“It has taken a long time to win a 72-hole stroke-play event,” admitted the eight-times European No 1, who is unable to count either winning the Andersen Consulting World Championship in 1988 or the Skins Game two years later as official victories in the US.
“It’s a very special moment for me and my caddie (Alistair McLean) as we’ve been together for 22 years,” added Montgomerie.
“We’ve been trying and I remember losing to Steve Elkington in the 1995 PGA Championship so it’s great to have finally broken my duck.”
The Scot had holed a lengthy birdie putt on the last green on Saturday to lead Bernhard Langer by one, with Watson four off the pace at the start of an intriguing final round.
It was the first time, either in a PGA Tour or Champions Tour event, that the Scot had been in pole position heading into the final circuit on American soil.
Off to the perfect start as he birdied the first, Montgomerie gave that shot back at the short fourth before making a significant thrust around the turn.
He birdied three holes in a row from the eighth to move to ten-under, opening up a two-shot cushion, but, as Watson stepped up a gear, that didn’t last for long.
The US Ryder Cup captain started for home by making four birdies in the first five holes, emerging as Montgomerie’s main challenger after Langer, having dumped his tee shot into the water at the 11th, stumbled to a double-bogey there.
Montgomerie set up his fifth birdie of the day with an exquisite approach to the 12th to go strokes clear again and had the scent of victory his nostrils after bagging back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes.
Producing a masterclass by then, he’d notched six birdies in eight holes - a terrific burst and one that proved too hot even for Watson on a day when his play was also impressive.
The five-times Open champion was unable to pick up any more birdies at the final four holes but, at 64, his flawless six-under 65 was a splendid effort.
“It’s about nest struck ball in ten years but I missed too many short putts,” he said. “I felt as though I had a snake in my hands.”
Langer, winner of 20 titles since turning 50, was denied on this occasion after a closing 70 left him having to share third spot with Jay Haas (67).
“It’s nice to have beaten Bernhard and hopefully I can do it one more time in my career,” added Montgomerie after receiving the magnificent trophy from PGA of America president Ted Bishop.
Despite producing a brave performance, hopes of Scottish golf celebrating a US double were dashed as Catriona Matthew fell just short in the LPGA Airbus Classic in Mobile, Alabama.
The North Berwick woman finished joint-third as American Jessica Korda stormed home in 30 to win with a 19-under-par total.
Joint-leader with both Korda and Swede Anna Nordqvist with four holes to play, Matthew closed with a 69 as she finished two shots behind the winner alongside English teenager Charley Hull.