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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 22:50 GMT 23:50 UK
Monty wins legends vote

Who is your greatest European Ryder Cup player?

SIX OF THE BEST

Colin Montgomerie has been crowned the BBC Sport website users' ultimate European Ryder Cup legend.

Throughout the 35th Ryder Cup we asked you to vote for your best player from one of six worthy contenders but the seven-time Cup veteran received 49% of the vote to beat Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros by a mile.

This year you have also crowned Jack Nicklaus as your king of the Masters and voted Tom Watson as your greatest Open champion.


Colin Montgomerie
By Rob Hodgetts

Colin Montgomerie
Born: 23/6/63, Scotland
Ryder Cup appearances: 7 - 1991, 1993, 1995 (winners), 1997 (w), 1999, 2002 (w), 2004 (w)
Ryder Cup record: Played 32, won 19, halved five
Points scoring ratio: 75%

Colin Montgomerie is fast-becoming a Ryder Cup legend, with his performances for Europe completely eclipsing his individual results on Tour.

The seven-time European number one has struggled through back injury, loss of form and marriage problems in the last few years.

His ranking has fallen away with each passing year since he won the last of his Order of Merits in 1999, culminating in a 13-year career-low European ranking of 28 in 2003.

But he was the undoubted star for Europe in the 2002 victory at The Belfry, and by holing the winning putt at Oakland Hills in 2004 the 41-year-old has cemented his place as one of the all-time superstars of the event.

And Montgomerie's qualities as a future captain were evident when he remained strong in the heat of the "Battle of Brookline" in 1999.

The Scot withstood fierce personal abuse and led from the front in an atmosphere he described in his autobiography as "not far removed from mass hysteria".

In his book, "The Real Monty", Montgomerie begins the chapter on the Ryder Cup: "If I tell you I can remember virtually every shot I have hit in the Ryder Cup, it will go some way towards explaining how much this biennial contest means to me."

But the romance must have died for a while at Brookline, when his father James was forced to walk off the course after an incident on the ninth tee when a beer-fuelled fan launched an "unrepeatable insult" at his son.

TOP EUROPEAN POINTS SCORERS
25 Nick Faldo
24 Bernhard Langer
22.5 Seve Ballesteros
21.5 Colin Montgomerie
17.5 Jose Maria Olazabal
17 Tony Jacklin
16.5 Ian Woosnam

Montgomerie wrote that his father's lifelong love of the game took an "irreparable blow".

"I had been heckled on and off all week and shrugged it off," wrote the Scot.

"Now, though, [in the Sunday singles] things were getting really ugly and some of the American players were making things a hundred-times worse with the way they were inciting the crowd."

Colin Montgomerie
Montgomerie weathered severe pressure in 1999

Montgomerie began his career in 1991 in another controversial Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island when several Americans, motivated by patriotism in view of the Gulf War, wore army fatigues to stir up the emotion.

The 28-year-old rookie won one match, halved one and lost one as Europe went down by one point.

But from 1993 until the Saturday foursomes at Oakland Hills when he asked to be rested, Montgomerie had played every rubber of every match.

Despite needing a wildcard this time around, Montgomerie was once again the heartbeat and on-course captain of the European team.

He won three of his four matches and stretched his winning singles record to seven out of seven.

Montgomerie has now played 32 matches in total, winning 19, losing eight and halving five for a points-scoring percentage of 75%.

He may have no major trophies in the cabinet but Montgomerie looks set to go on and create further folklore for himself in the Ryder Cup.


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