When Monty Made Scottish Fans Roar at Loch Lomond
AS MANY of the world’s leading golfers head towards The Renaissance Club there is one thing that home fans want to see more than anything else - a Scottish winner of the Scottish Open. The last time it happened was in 1999 when Colin Montgomerie took the title - and the following week another Scot, Paul Lawrie, won The Open at Carnoustie in the most dramatic circumstances of all.
Monty won at Loch Lomond, holding off the challenge of Spanish rookie Sergio Garcia with a glorious 64 that saw him turn a four-shot deficit into a three-stroke victory. Although he started and finished with bogeys, the Scot had a run of nine birdies in 12 holes in the middle of his round to finally achieve an individual victory on his native Scottish soil.
"How could I possibly feel any better than I do right now?" He said after his final round before heading to Carnoustie. "I can only go into The Open with confidence and that's what many players can't say."
Montgomerie won with a 268 total, three strokes better than the 19-year-old Garcia and Swedes Mats Lanner and Michael Jonzon.
"I just feel very proud right now to have won on the western coast of Scotland where I'm from," Montgomerie said of his third victory of the season. "Of all the victories, and I think that's 20 now, this has to be the most special.”
(Colin Montgomerie, Winner of the Standard Life Loch Lomond)
The cheers from his adoring gallery became louder by the hole as the Scot overtook eight players ahead of him and charged to the top of the leaderboard.
"It got quite emotional out there when I realised I had gone ahead but I still managed to it the ball exactly in the right directions and, at 15 and 16, I got the perfect yardages. At 16 we had 203 and I hit 203," Montgomerie said.
He produced a masterclass in approach play with a succession of fabulous iron shots. "They were all close," he said. "If I had missed any of those putts I would have been very upset. To have nine birdies in 12 holes on a course of this quality and against a field of this quality with so many of them ahead of me, was very important to me."
Montgomerie's charge started with a birdie at the fifth. From the seventh, he birdied four holes in a row, saved par with a stunning approach from a poor greenside lie and then birdied 12 and 13 as well to go 15-under and tie for the lead. The birdies at 15 and 16 opened up a two-stroke lead.
On the way, he overtook Garcia, who opened this event with a round of 62, and defending champion Lee Westwood, who began the final round one stroke ahead of the field.
Garcia finished with a 68 for a share of second place and a place among the top 10 in Europe's Ryder Cup points list. He would go on to secure his place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team for the infamous match at Brookline.
Garcia recorded six birdies, including three in a row from the 12th to go 15-under, and just missed another at the 15th. He would have finished second by himself but bogeyed the 16th and the 18th holes to finish at 271.
"It was tough because Monty played great today," the Spaniard said. "I looked are the scoeboard and he was just making birdies and birdies and birdies. He played marvelous on the last round and I congratulate him."
Lanner also had the chance to take second place on his own but missed a 6-foot putt at the last hole while Jonzon closed with a 5-under 66 for a share of second place. Westwood was out in 33 and looked in good shape to keep his title. But he drove into bushes at 10, had a double bogey 6 and wound up with a 71 for 272 and a share of fifth place.
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