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  Monday, 30 September, 2002, 04:12 GMT 05:12 UK
Monty is the man
Colin Montgomerie hugs his wife Eimear after winning his singles match against USAs Scott Hoch
A great day for the Montgomeries

As sweet as it was for all members of the European team to regain the Ryder Cup, it must have been especially good for Colin Montgomerie.

After a summer which saw him take some fearful criticism for his performances in Major tournaments, the burly Scot came to the match billed as the cagey veteran of the European team.

When Montgomerie began his Ryder Cup career, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal were the kingpins for Europe - none of them were in the side for 2002.

With his fitness a question mark, Montgomerie knew he would still have to play a full part in Sam Torrance's plans for the three-day competition.

While 'Monty' has spent much of the last 10 years answering questions about his inability to win the big one as an individual, his Ryder Cup record has always been pretty impressive.

So, it must surely have been in the back of his mind that a less than stellar performance on the Brabazon course would have had the career obituaries flowing.

But whatever doubts or demons the Scot had were clearly thrown to one side as he played some of the best golf of his career.

Three and a half points from the first two days, which included a marvellous partnership with veteran Bernhard Langer, kept Europe in the hunt.

But if that was an achievement to be proud of, then his deeds on Sunday perhaps surpassed it.

Asked to lead from the front in the first match, Montgomerie took on Scott Hoch, another veteran who had played some scintillating golf on Saturday.

Yet from the moment Monty sank a birdie putt at the first, this match was about as competitive as Lennox Lewis' bludgeoning of Mike Tyson a few months ago.

By the 14th, it was all over, leaving both men shaking their heads - Hoch at the pummelling he had taken and Montgomerie pondering just where that round had come from.

"That's the best I can play. Scott is a great champion and a tough competitor, but I think I was eight-under and there's not much you can do about that," were Monty's words as he spoke afterwards.

Hoch's verdict was as typically blunt as one would expect from a durable old professional.

"Damn!"

An incredibly serenity had come over the former European number one, something best illustrated in his behaviour on Sunday morning.

While practising on the range in front of a packed grandstand, he was briefly distracted by a voice from the crowd.

For various reasons, heckling is not something new to Montgomerie and those narrow-minded individuals who goad him have been encouraged by the fact that they usually draw a response.

There was a response this time - Montgomerie identified the individual and invited him to the practice tee to display his golfing prowess.

It was all done with humour and warmth and the spectator played his part by shanking his first shot a few yards, amusing the crowd and Montgomerie.

If his performance here was a clear sign that the seven-time European Order of Merit winner has had a new lease of life, then maybe anyone of next year's Major titles could finally find their way onto his trophy cabinet.

But one title which Monty definitely deserves consideration for is BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.

While the Ryder Cup is a team game - and the likes of Philip Price and Paul McGinley played starring roles in this victory - it was Monty's contribution that decided events.

Pitted against an American team that boasted over half a dozen Major winners, Monty never buckled or surrendered.

In every sense, this was a major performance.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Europe's Colin Montgomerie
"Not to lose is always a thrill"
European captain Sam Torrance
"Nothing can compare to this victory"
USA's Scott Hoch
"We couldn't keep up with them"
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Europe 15-12 USA

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