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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK
It had to be you, Monty
By John Mathews
BBC Sport at Oakland Hills

Colin Montgomerie celebrates sinking the winning putt

Colin Montgomerie might not be as big as he used to be, but where the Ryder Cup is concerned, he is a colossus.

Even the Americans love him these days.

Love might be pushing it a bit, but he most assuredly has their huge respect and he has earned it with another commanding Cup performance.

With the Europeans so far ahead going into the final day, all eyes were scanning the singles matches to see where the points could come from to secure the trophy.

The romantics were in no doubt who they wanted to hole that winning, iconic putt - Monty.

He didn't let them down and his contribution all week was immense again.

As he strode up the 18th on Sunday to a chorus of 'Monty, Monty', the sense of retribution was palpable.

You could see how much it meant to him
Darren Clarke
Here was a man who has endured humiliating treatment at the hands of the American galleries in the past - particularly the last time the Ryder Cup was played in the US, at Brookline in 1999.

But the demons of that dark day were banished in spectacular fashion at Oakland Hills, with the crowd rising as one to acclaim Europe's Cup-winner.

For the first time in his career, the slimmed-down Montgomerie had needed the back-door route of the captain's wildcard choice to make it into the European team.

He'd had a troubled year away from the course, with his private life splashed all over the newspapers and his divorce from wife Eimear coming through only last week.

"It has been a long four months for me personally," he said afterwards. "I don't want to talk about it but at the same time, it's quite well-known.

"I have come a long way in those four months. I am proud of myself right now."

Form has been hard to come by at times for the man who languishes at number 62 in the world, but one always suspected the Ryder Cup would be his stage.

1991: Won 1, Lost 1, Halved 1
1993: W3, L1, H1
1995: W2, L3, H0
1997: W3, L1, H1
1999: W3, L1, H1
2002: W4, L0, H1
2004: W3, L1, H0
Points total: 21

So it proved on Friday when he produced two victories in partnership with Padraig Harrington to set the European bandwagon rolling.

Day two was not so successful as the duo lost their second fourballs match, but by then things were going so well for Europe, he could afford to sit out the afternoon foursomes.

It was the only occasion he had been rested (and at his own request) since he made his Cup debut in 1991.

Europe started the final day knowing it would take a calamitous upset to throw away the Ryder Cup, but the singles clashes brought a familiar feeling of dread in the early stages.

When the first four matches turned the scoreboard into a red sea of United States leads, Montgomerie steadied the ship.

He birdied the first hole in his contest with David Toms, establishing a colony of blue that grew into Europe's third Ryder Cup victory on American soil.

Montgomerie didn't trail at any stage against Toms and after he had the honour of sinking the decisive putt on 18, the words of praise buzzing around the course had European and American accents.

His popularity within the European team is unmatched and there was delight all round as Montgomerie sank the winning putt.

"You could see the emotion," said Darren Clarke. "You could see how much it meant to him."

Paul Casey added: "For him of all people to hole the putt, it was just perfect and you knew he wouldn't miss."

As for the United States fans, they fear him but they don't dislike him.

They just wish they had him on their side.

Interview: Colin Montgomerie

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