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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Monty's moods part of his appeal
By Colin Moffat

Colin Montgomerie shares a joke on the golf course
Aww, he's just a big softy really...

Colin Montgomerie continues his quest to land an elusive major when The Open Championship gets underway on Thursday.

And, despite mood swings that are as unpredictable as the North Sea gusts over the Angus coastline, the 44-year-old Scot would be a hugely popular winner at Carnoustie.

Montgomerie was roared on at St Andrews in 2005 as he outscored Tiger Woods on the Saturday and closed to within one shot of the eventual winner with nine holes to play.

Scottish Saltires waved proudly and entrepreneurs did a brisk trade in Monty wigs, although those donning the hairpieces bore more resemblance to Harpo Marx.

Montgomerie wore a smile as dazzling as the unbroken Fife sunshine in 2005 and basked in role of local favourite, despite having been raised in Yorkshire, attending university in the US and setting up home in Surrey.

However, his demeanour is not always as cheery.

When things are not going well, Monty has been known to remonstrate with spectators and officials and he has left many a young autograph-seeker disappointed with a disdainful swat.

It would appear he is half bear with a sore head and half cuddly teddy bear.

And that is part of his enduring appeal.

He is a sportsman who wears his heart on his sleeve, a joy to behold when on song; exasperatingly flawed when glowering, hands-on-hips, in the direction of a distraction or bemoaning a bad break.

He is all too human. Sometimes, heartbreakingly so.

At the Scottish Open last weekend, support was again vociferous along the banks of Loch Lomond.

But, in just two rounds, we saw both sides of Monty.

Three birdies in his opening five holes had him laughing and joking with his caddie and playing partner Ian Poulter but his mood cooled like the afternoon weather as he failed to build on a bright start.

Day two saw him tumble down the leaderboard with five bogeys on his card and his face was fizzing as vividly as a pair of Ian Poulter's trousers as he missed the cut.

His second place in St Andrews has been his best Open showing and he has now been a runner-up five times in golf's four main events.

Colin Montgomerie
Oops, watch out for Mr Grumpy...

The best chance for major success came in last year's US Open when, following a perfect tee shot, he double-bogeyed the 72nd hole, allowing Geoff Ogilvy to win by a stroke.

Since that dramatic collapse at Winged Foot, Monty has not featured at the weekend of a major, missing the cut at last year's Open and the following USPGA, Masters and US Open events.

However, he has been buoyed by victory in this month's European Open, which ended a 19-month winless streak and makes him the most prolific British winner in European Tour history, with 31 tournaments to his name.

Given that incredible level of success, it seems harsh to regard Europe's eight-time Order of Merit winner as a "nearly-man".

Some of his support stems from a widespread feeling that someone with his talent simply deserves to win a major, while his previous close shaves have earned him a degree of sympathy seldom afforded to multi-millionaires.

But perhaps the biggest factor in his favour with British crowds has been his fabulous Ryder Cup record.

With the biennial head-to-head with America's finest enjoying incredible popularity, Monty has been a colossus for a dominant Europe in recent years.

His half at the final hole won the cup outright in 1997 and he was the undoubted star of the 2002 victory at The Belfry.

Holing the winning putt at Oakland Hills in 2004 cemented his place as one of the greats at the highly-charged event.

He brushed aside indifferent form as the Americans were routed at the K Club last year and is unbeaten in the singles in eight cup appearances.

Monty finished a respectable 15th at Carnoustie in 1999 but he has missed the cut seven times since he made his Open debut at St Andrews in 1990.

Prior to his second place at St Andrews, a tie for eighth at Turnberry in 1994 had been his best effort.

Often guilty of talking up his chances only to crash and burn, Montgomerie will not be among the hot favourites.

The consistency that marked his best years has gone but one thing is guaranteed - a rapturous reception at the first tee on Thursday.

Picking the Open champion
11 Jul 07 |  Golf


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