Monty's Ball? Colin Montgomerie looking to rejuvenate career in Champions Tour debut

  • Article by: WILL GRAVES , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: June 27, 2013 - 7:02 AM

PITTSBURGH — The devilish grin and sharp tongue remain as potent as ever. It's everything else that's changed for Colin Montgomerie.

The polish and precision that made the sometimes irascible Scotsman one of the best golfers in the world for the better part of two decades has evolved into something more pedestrian. The newly minted Hall of Famer hasn't won a tournament in six years or been a factor at a major in seven.

"I've been playing the last decade against players I have children older than," Montgomerie said. "It doesn't seem fair to me."

No wonder he isn't wasting any time making his Champions Tour debut.

Four days after turning 50, Montgomerie will tee it up in the Senior Players Championship hoping to rejuvenate his career and grab the major title that he couldn't quite clutch with both hands during his prime in the 1990s. One of the near misses came in the U.S. Open 19 years ago at Oakmont, a couple of par-5s across the Allegheny River from Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Montgomerie survived four sweltering days to finish in a three-way tie with Ernie Els and Loren Roberts only to falter in the ensuing 18-hole playoff. It marked the first of five runner-up finishes in majors, though Montgomerie insists on viewing Oakmont as a memory more positive than painful.

"I was glad I survived that test more than most," he said. "Nobody beat me over 72 holes."

Something Montgomerie hasn't been able to say since capturing the European Open in 2007. He spent his late 40s toiling away in the middle of the pack, at least when he was able to make it to the weekend. Montgomerie has survived the cut just twice in seven European Tour starts this season, missing by a single shot at the BMW International in Germany last weekend.

It hasn't been all bad. Since his last victory, he's guided Europe to glory in the 2010 Ryder Cup and expanded his golf course designing empire. He's also been remarried and is enjoying a softening of his sometimes combustible image. The tartness that arose when provoked by an opponent or the media — or both — during Montgomerie's peak has been replaced by a sense of decorum.

Well, more or less.

When asked about Phil Mickelson's snake-bitten pursuit of a U.S. Open title, one that included a sixth second-place finish at Merion two weeks ago, Montgomerie just chuckles while talking about his friend.

"I think Phil should take the U.S. Open off next year," he said. "He's been so unlucky, so unfortunate."

A phrase regularly thrown in Montgomerie's direction during his relentless pursuit for a piece of golf history. He fell to Steve Elkington in a playoff in the 1995 PGA. He put a shot in the water on 17 of the final round of the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional to once again lose to Els. He three-putted from 30 feet on the 72nd hole of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, opening the door for Geoff Ogilvy.

Those failures have, at times, overshadowed Montgomerie's 31 European Tour titles and his record eight Orders of Merit.

"I had a great career, a great normal career if you like," he said. "But of course there's always an omission, isn't there, when you talk about me? There's a lack of a major championship."

The Champions Tour, however, offers a chance at redemption of sorts. The Senior Players is the first of three straight majors on the schedule, followed next month by the U.S. Senior Open next month and the British Senior Open. There may not be a better chance to fill in the hole in his otherwise sparkling resume.

Yet Montgomerie insists he has no "illusions" that he'll walk onto the first tee with Bernhard Langer and David Frost on Thursday morning and be one of the players to beat simply because of his relative youth.

"Anytime you play Bernhard Langer, it's going to be tough," he said.

Then again, so is Montgomerie when his game is clicking. The change of scenery — and the slightly easier setup the Champions Tour provides — have provided him with a needed confidence boost.

There used to be a time he knew he could win on any given week. Not so much anymore.

"On the European Tour, the last say 5 years, I have been hoping that I would do well," Montgomerie said. "There's a big difference between the two."

Even with the modest returns of the last few years, Montgomerie doesn't need to look far for inspiration. Rocco Mediate won his first Champions Tour start at the season-opening Allianz Championships in February then backed it up with three straight Top 10s.

Montgomerie would settle for being in the mix and putting some red figures on the scoreboard. He's managed just 10 rounds under par in his last 25 events, a stunning slide for the player who ranked in the Top 10 in stroke average with regularity during his 30s and early 40s.

His metronome-like swing can still find the fairway. If his putter cooperates on the more reasonable greens, the guys he will play alongside expect to see Montgomerie's name somewhere on the leaderboard soon.

"I would think this would be a great start for him," Fred Couples said. "It's a perfect course. He drives it like a machine, but I think anyone would tell you that he's going to be a huge factor for this tour and he's going to be great for this tour."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Carolina 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Montreal 7:30 PM
Chicago
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close