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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July, 2005, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Monty's back
By Andrew Fraser

Colin Montgomerie congratulates Tiger Woods after finishing second at the Open
If he putts well there is no reason he can't win a major championship
Open champion Tiger Woods on Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie arrived at St Andrews for the Open last week insisting he was "full of hope" that he could finally win his first major.

"No chance," was the general consensus - and even Monty himself did not sound particularly optimistic.

The 42-year-old Scot, after all, had provided little concrete evidence that this would be his year.

Having begun 2005 ranked 81st in the world, Montgomerie watched the US Masters on television after failing to qualify and finished tied for 42nd at the US Open.

So the sight of Monty outscoring Tiger Woods on Saturday, and then closing to within one shot of the world number one with nine holes to play, came as a welcome surprise.

In the end Tiger was just too good.

But Montgomerie's reward for being best of the rest was the biggest cheque of his career - 430,000 - and his highest finish at a major since his sixth place in the 1999 USPGA.

It has sent the former world number two rocketing up to 22 in the rankings, and he will begin preparations for next month's USPGA at Baltusrol with a new spring in his step.

"I look forward to more majors with added incentive," he said. "I'm not saying I could get back to two like I was, but I think I have the talent to get back in the top 10."

Montgomerie is now making headlines for the right reasons after being criticised by some of his peers for a ball-replacing incident at the Indonesian Open in March.

The Open was his second runners-up spot in three weeks after he shared second place at the European Open, and he has seven top-10 finishes from 16 appearances so far this year.

Colin Montgomerie and partner Jo Baldwin at the Open
Montgomerie is now happier on and off the course
His personal life is also more settled after the turmoil of his divorce from wife Eimear last year, which coincided with his loss of form, with new partner Jo Baldwin joining him at St Andrews.

And he will certainly feel loved again after the rousing reception he got from the vocal St Andrews crowd.

According to Woods, who was clinical on the greens at St Andrews, the main obstacle standing between Montgomerie and that elusive major is putting consistency.

Montgomerie used a heavier version of the conventional putter at the Open, having previously experimented with the longer "belly" variety.

"The only thing that has really stopped him is his putter. He has gone from conventional to belly, now back to conventional again," said Woods.

If Tiger has a bad major Colin could step in and win it
Bernard Gallacher
"During that run [from 1993-99] when he had seven [European Tour] Order of Merits in a row, he putted beautifully.

"If he putts well there is no reason he can't win a major championship."

Montgomerie admits time is not on his side as he tries to end a winless run in majors which now stands at 55.

But former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher insists it is not too late.

"Unfortunately Tiger is at the height of his powers and might be around to stop him," Gallacher told BBC Five Live.

"But Colin can beat Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.

"He's as good a striker as anyone in the world and if Tiger has a bad major Colin could step in and win it, just like Tom Kite did at 42. It took him all that time to win the US Open."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Colin Montgomerie


Interview: Former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher



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