Colin Montgomerie: I'd hoped $9m winner would give it to charity

Colin Montgomerie has expressed deep disappointment over the 'obscene' money match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, saying he felt the $9 million prize pot should have been donated in full to charity.
Phil Mickelson celebrates after The Match: Tiger vs Phil. Pic: Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesPhil Mickelson celebrates after The Match: Tiger vs Phil. Pic: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Phil Mickelson celebrates after The Match: Tiger vs Phil. Pic: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The eight-time European No 1 gave the recent pay-per-view event in Las Vegas a thumbs-down during a visit to Edinburgh, where one of his engagements was to attend the opening of a new extension at the Maggie’s Centre at the Western General.

Montgomerie launched the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation in memory of his mother, who died of lung cancer in 1991, and two new centres – one in Lanarkshire and one in Aberdeen – have been set up in partnership with Maggie’s.

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“I was hoping that the winner in his winning speech would have donated it all to charity,” said the Ryder Cup legend about “The Match”, which saw Mickelson triumph over Woods at the fourth extra hole under floodlights at Shadow Creek Golf Club, Las Vegas.

“That’s why I’ve been up in Scotland this week – for charity, opening a Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh at the Western General. I would have loved for one of them to announce that because neither of them need the $9 million.

“Also, as someone who is not a gambler or a supporter of gambling, I was disappointed that they were having these side bets for monies that were more than our prime minister earns. It didn’t seem right.”

Montgomerie, who also hosted a golf clinic for sponsors Aberdeen Standard Investments at the Braid Hills Golf Centre during his visit to the capital, added: “We used to have a head-to-head event like this at the Shell Wonderful World of Golf, but we didn’t get paid nine million for it.

“I played Phil Mickelson in Colorado, Jim Furyk in France and Freddie Couples in Arizona and they were great games. It was fun, everybody enjoyed themselves and then went home without the gambling situation. I don’t really care for that.

“Look, it [The Match] was an event made for TV and I think eventually the last hour was okay because it was quite close. But up until then I wasn’t quite into it. That amount of money is obscene when there are other issues in the world, so I would have loved the winner to have given it away.

“Also, had it happened 10 years ago, when they were ranked one and two in the world, it would have been more appropriate.”

Montgomerie, a winning captain in 2010, believes Padraig Harrington is a stick-on to lead Europe’s defence of the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits the year after next, with an announcement on Thomas Bjorn’s successor believed to be imminent.

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“It seems to be the case that Padraig is a certainty,” he said. “It will be different, won’t it!” He laughs. “But, with three major wins, he deserves it. We have to keep the momentum going with the Ryder Cup. We know that economically the Ryder Cup is huge for the European Tour. It’s a big deal.”