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  Sunday, 22 July, 2001, 18:51 GMT 19:51 UK
Monty blows his major chance
Colin Montgomerie had a difficult final day
Colin Montgomerie had a difficult final day
BBC Sport Online's Clive Lindsay profiles perennial nearly man Colin Montgomerie after the Scot's latest Open Championship disappointment.

Will we ever see the Full Monty?

Colin Montgomerie started the Open at Royal Lytham by showing us the kind of precision play that won him a record seven Volvo Order of Merit crowns in a row.

But, as the pressure of being the leader and the weight of a nation's hopes rested on his substantial shoulders, it appeared that it was not only the rest of the field that were catching him up and passing him by.

Having turned 38 last month, the big Scot has perhaps left his best years behind him.

He has for a long time been burdened by the "best player never to have won a major" tag along with eventual winner David Duval.

Psychological ship

And, that scintillating opening 65 apart, it was a yoke that he once again just could not shed when it came to the crunch.

Montgomerie recently underwent a weight-loss programme that brought his 6ft 1in frame closer to his official European Tour weight of 14 stone.

David Duval lifts the Claret Jug
David Duval lifts the Claret Jug

He has also turned to Liverpool-based sports psychologist Hugh Mantle in an attempt to steady the psychological ship.

This week, Monty did well to keep that explosive temper and moody demeanor in check.

But, beneath the smiles, there remains a smouldering volcano that threatens to erupt at any moment.

Despite 25 European Tour victories since he turned professional in 1987, Montgomerie arrived at Royal Lytham with a horrendous Open record.

His best finish had been a tie for eighth in 1994 at Turnberry.

Pressure off

Yet - away from the added pressure of performing in front of his own, forever-expectant fans - Monty has twice been runner-up at the US Open and once at the US PGA.

Experts therefore suggest that it is his temperament rather than any flaws in his game that prevent him taking that last, major step into golfing folklore.

Montgomerie: explosive and moody
Montgomerie: explosive and moody
A 13-month win drought up until the recent Irish Open meant that Montgomerie arrived at Royal Lytham with expectations lower than for many a year.

The pressure off, he responded with a combination of accurate driving and putting that left the field three strokes in his wake with that opening round of six under par.

Thrust into the limelight once more, Monty did well to hole out for a 70 as his accuracy off the tee deserted him on day two.

But those trademark reddened cheeks were back as his driving form returned only for his putting to desert him on the way to a 73 that allowed him to be swallowed up by a field that were themselves hardly burning up Royal Lytham.

No longer favourite, the hope was that Montgomerie would respond with a charge from one stroke behind the leaders on a course set-up to reward his kind of accuracy.

Too little, too late

But it was a story of missed putts, two bogeys at the third and fifth putting paid to his hopes.

Birdies at the sixth, seventh and the thirteenth followed, but it was too little too late once more and he ended with one-over-par 72.

Montgomerie finally surrendered his European Order of Merit crown last season and this month dropped out of world's top 10 for the first time since May 1994.

Royal Lytham may prove to have been his best chance to win a major.

Unless Monty can control his internal demons, it could also be the swansong of an otherwise illustrious career.


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See also:

22 Jul 01 | The Open
22 Jul 01 | Photo galleries
22 Jul 01 | The Open
22 Jul 01 | The Open
Links to more The Open stories are at the foot of the page.


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