Colin Montgomerie started his season by arriving in Hawaii just as a missile threat was issued then being warned that he might be killed if he tried his hand at surfing close to a dangerous reef.
Add in the fact he also suffered the rare disappointment of letting a title slip from his grasp on that trip to the Pacific islands and no wonder the 54-year-old had lots to talk about after making a 9,000-mile journey to the United Arab Emirates.
Montgomerie is teeing up on the European Tour this week in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, an event he won in 1996. It’s his first appearance in the tournament at Emirates Golf Club since 2014 and first outing on the European circuit since missing the cut in the 2016 Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
He’s relishing the task on one of the few European Tour courses on which he still feels he can compete and is hoping his second trip of the year is more straightforward than the one to Hawaii for a Champions Tour event.
“You’ve travelled two days to get there and we picked the one place where there was a missile threat,” said Montgomerie of arriving there as that was being issued in an “emergency notification alert” before it was discovered to be a false alarm.
“We landed on the Friday into Kona and, on the Saturday morning, someone’s going to blow us up and I thought, ‘well, that’s great’.
“It was weird because people were going down manholes. I mean, what the hell, that’s no use. If it’s going to happen, I’d just order a drink from the bar and sit on the beach and watch.
“You’re going anyway, so you might as well go out in style as opposed to being down a manhole. That’s not the way to go, is it?”
Asked how long it had taken before it became apparent that it was, in fact, a false alarm, he added: “About 30 minutes, which was too long, really. People were calling home and crying.
“It was bizarre, absolutely bizzare. The nuclear deterrent has kept us safe for 70 years until some shift in Hawaii decided to change things. Of all the places to go, we picked there...perfect, bloody perfect!”
Later on that trip, Montgomerie posted a photograph on Twitter of him holding a surfboard with the caption: “This must be easier than golf?”
Asked if that had been the case, he said: “It was a good idea until somebody said that I needed a strong core to surf, so I thought it was possibly a bit harder than I gave it credit for and didn’t bother.
“There was also a bit of a reef out on the Hawaiian coast and I was told not to bother because I would kill myself on that reef. If I wasn’t bombed, I would kill myself on that reef!”
Montgomerie was on course to start his 2018 campaign on a winning note after opening with two 65s in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship before losing out by a shot to Jerry Kelly after a two-shot swing at the final hole.
“I am very fortunate in my career to say that I haven’t messed up too often, but I messed up on Saturday,” he admitted. “Playing the last with a one-shot lead, I should really wrap that up but he made his birdie and I made a bogey after driving into a bunker.
“But, looking at the positives, two 65s to start the year after a nine-week break was good.”
He was particularly pleased that a decision to link up with Kingsfield Golf Centre-based coach Kevin Craggs had led to an improvement straight away in his chipping.
“My pitching and putting has been poor over the last few years and I had to improve that to save shots, to turn 70s into 68s, and that’s working already,” he said. “It’s a long year and I am looking forward to it with a good, solid start behind me.”
On his hopes for this week, Montgomerie said: “This has always been a special place for me after winning 22 years ago and I think it the course has stood the test of time terrifically well over the years.
“I’ve got to be realistic and I’d be thrilled with a top-20 finish. Knowing my way around here, I would very disappointed if I don’t make the cut.”
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