Unless Colin Montgomerie can overcome the heat and a game that strayed badly at the British Open, he will end the year as one of the best players in the world without a major championship.
It was a label he figured to shed this year, along with the 40 pounds he lost through diet and exercise.
“It’s been a disappointing year as far as the majors go,” he said.
Montgomerie showed signs this might be his breakthrough year with a solid showing in The Players Championship. He led by one until Fred Couples caught him with an eagle-birdie-par finish.
But he never got untracked in the Masters, shooting rounds of 72-74-75-75 to finish in a tie for 39th. He faltered over the final nine holes at the U.S. Open, then missed the cut in the British Open for the fourth time in five years.
“This is the last chance this year of winning a major. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen,” he said. “My next goal after - if this doesn’t work out - will obviously be the money list in Europe again.”
Montgomerie last year became the first player since Seve Ballesteros to win the Order of Merit three years in a row, and he is the leading money list again this year.
“I always feel that if I can remain No. 1 in Europe on a money list playing the limited schedule I do that I must be improving every year,” he said. “And eventually if I keep on improving every year, well, I’ll win a major one day.”
Montgomerie has lost two majors in a playoff - the 1994 U.S. Open, which Ernie Els won in a three-way playoff, and last year’s PGA Championship, when Steve Elkington beat him with a 20-foot birdie on the first extra hole.
“I can see Steve Elkington’s putt drop in the hole now, and that’s a year ago; I can see that as clear as a bell,” he said. “To get close again, it’s difficult to accept sometimes. But you get on with it and you play.”
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