Contrary to what the margin of victory at Constance Belle Mare Plage might suggest, it was a hard-earned triumph for the 52-year-old after seeing a four-shot overnight lead turned into a one-shot deficit by South African David Frost with eight holes to play. As Frost, a two-time winner, faltered with two bogeys in three holes, Montgomerie moved up a gear, signing off with three birdies for a closing 69 and a 15-under-par total of 201.
“This is right up there,” said the Scot of his third over-50s title triumph in 2015 and one that wrapped up a successful defence of the John Jacobs Trophy – the first player to finish No 1 back-to-back on the European Senior Tour since Sam Torrance in 2006 – in the best way possible.
“It was the 64 on the second day that set up this win, but I needed that as David Frost, Chris Williams and Paul Eales all played well. It might look as though I won easily, but it was extremely close and any time you win when you need to birdie one or two of the last few holes is always a pleasure.”
The one at the 17th saw Montgomerie take just five shots there in three rounds on the Legend Course, having also birdied it in his opening 68 then having a hole-in-one with an 8-iron on Saturday. “Four-under for 17th – it made me win this event,” said a smiling champion. “But just as important was that I drove the ball all week and I knew that was key on this course. I managed to hit fairways and give myself birdie chances.
“It’s a great honour to keep the John Jacobs Trophy in my cabinet,” he admitted. “Having won the Order of Merit on the main Tour eight times in my career, it’s very nice to have continued that trend on the Senior Tour. They sit side by side very nicely. The standard of golf out here is improving year on year, so I’ve had to raise my own game to stay ahead of these guys.
“Defending my US Senior PGA title was obviously the highlight of my season, especially as it meant I finally got one over my old nemesis, Bernhard Langer. He never knows when he’s beaten and never gives you an inch, so to go head-to-head with him in the final round and come out on top was very pleasing. Then at Woburn, it was very special to win the Travis Perkins Masters for a third time and obviously to finish with another victory in Mauritius was the perfect end to the season. So, when I look back on this year, those will be the standout memories for me.”
While the majority of his 2016 campaign will be focused on American-based events, Montgomerie has already indicated he’ll be heading to Castle Stuart in July for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. He’s also hoping to qualify for the Open Championship at Royal Troon the following week before heading to Carnoustie to try and win the Senior equivalent for a first time.
“Looking ahead to next season, I guess the main focus would be to try to win more majors, and try to win the Order of Merit for a third season in a row,” he added. “The Senior Open is very much on my radar, because it’s the only Senior major missing from my collection and of course it’s being held in Scotland. But, for now, I’m going to pack the clubs away, enjoy a month off and then get ready for the new season.”
Andy Stubbs, the European Senior Tour’s managing director, paid tribute to Montgomerie, saying: “I have no doubt he will be the man to beat again next year and, given his unbridled enthusiasm for the game, it’s perfectly possible Colin could even go on to replicate the eight Orders of Merit he won on the European Tour!”