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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 13:27 GMT
Marvellous Monty
By Rob Hodgetts

Colin Montgomerie

"I didn't need this, I just wanted it," said Colin Montgomerie after winning a record eighth European Tour Order of Merit title.

Plenty of us want something. Not all of us have the means to go out and get it.

But Monty is different.

Not that he doesn't share our human frailties - his infamous on-course tantrums, and the pain of a very public divorce are evidence of that.

But the continuing desire to prove his prowess at manoeuvring a little white ball around a golf course is summoned from somewhere deeper than most of us can go.

Throughout a savage slump in form, sparked by marriage break up, injury and putting traumas, the 42-year-old Montgomerie knew the talent and desire was still there.

Like the volcano inside him that threatens to erupt in the face of hostile crowds, his skill was also lying dormant.

Montgomerie won the last of his seven straight titles in 1999 before sliding to a miserable 83rd in the world in January of this year.

Whatever happened to me I was going to walk tall
Monty describes his mental approach at Valderrama

But his relentless climb back to the top of the rankings - with 13 top 10s in 25 events including a first, three seconds and two thirds - evoked a bygone age on the European Tour.

Like his seven other titles, the European number one was again measured by week-in, week-out consistency, rather than as a result of a few big-money prizes in the majors or elite-field World Golf Championship events.

The system rewards an accumulation of hard cash. And this is done by making every shot and putt count over the course of a four-day event, not with a few stellar rounds mixed in with the mediocre.

"The Order of Merit is the ultimate title," said Ireland's Paul McGinley, winner of the season-ending Volvo Masters in Valderrama.

"It's not just you playing well for one week, it's you playing well for 12 months. Everyone wants to win it and he's done it eight times, so that's pretty impressive."

After several years toiling with the journeymen, Montgomerie's catalyst for change was the 2004 Ryder Cup.

With the ink still wet on his divorce papers, a talismanic Scot inspired Europe to a record victory against America at Oakland Hills despite having to rely on a wild card to make the team.

Born: 23/06/1963, Scotland
Majors: 0
Best major finish: 2nd (US Open 1994, 1997; USPGA 1995; Open 2005)
European wins: 29
Worldwide wins: 16
Orders of Merit: 8
Ryder Cups: 7 ( 4 wins)
World ranking: 15th

Buoyed by his resurgence, and with his personal life settling down - and improving with a new partner - Montgomerie set himself the goal of returning to the top 25 in the world.

He started the year with a second in Singapore and began his gradual rise up the rankings.

But the season-defining moment came in the Open Championship at St Andrews in July.

Montgomerie briefly threatened to land a fairytale maiden major in front of his adoring fans at the home of golf before settling for second behind Tiger Woods.

At the start of the year, he was rated 100-1 shot to win the Order of Merit.

But as the crowds left the Old Course the jungle drums were tapping out a different beat - "Monty could become European number one again."

Victory in the Dunhill Links Championship, back at St Andrews, followed in September and a third in the WGC-American Express Championship saw him overtake US Open champion Michael Campbell in the standings for the first time.

Colin Montgomerie (left) and Michael Campbell
Montgomerie (left) and Campbell went head-to-head at Valderrama

The two contenders were paired together in the first round at Valderrama and Montgomerie took to the tee determined to "walk tall" after a session with his mental coach Hugh Mantle.

"It was so important that I kept the body language correct playing with Michael," said Montgomerie.

"Whatever happened to me I was going to walk tall and commit to everything that I was doing.

"I just wasn't prepared to give any sign of weakness."

1993: 613, 683
1994: 762,720
1995: 835,051
1996: 875,146
1997: 798,948
1998: 993,077
1999: 1,302, 057
2005: 1,888,613

He beat Campbell by five shots after the first round and led for the first three days before dropping back to third with the Order of Merit in the bag and 15th in the world rankings.

Montgomerie's critics - and despite his achievements there is still a counter culture - say that the Indonesia affair earlier this year taints the title.

The Scot was forced to admit he was "not comfortable" with a drop he took to replace his missing ball after an overnight break for a thunderstorm and donated his 24,000 prize money for fourth place to the Asian Tsunami appeal.

The money still registered in the Order of Merit till, to the ire of some fellow pros.

But by finishing more than 200,000 ahead of his nearest rival in the standings, Montgomerie has made the issue largely redundant.

Interview: Colin Montgomerie



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