Elkington came out of the booth and looked for Lisa and their four-month-old, Annie, took them over to a shady spot and changed a diaper. "I just had to be alone with them for a minute," he said. Early leader: Father of the Year.
The players were trundled back to the 18th tee in separate carts, Cushman gladiators on a verdant Hollywood set under sky painted overly blue. It was a one-picture deal, Elkington playing the hero and Monty, naturally, the heavy.
Both creased perfect drives and very good eight-irons. Elkington's ball stopped on the same line Montgomerie's had been on 15 minutes before. Elkington knew that putt. He had watched it on TV. Just Monty's luck. Impaled on his own skewer.
The 25-footer practically sank itself, marching obediently into the left side of the cup. Elkington leaped and with two hands held the putter over his head like a lance. Elated and dazed, he then squatted to the left of the green, closed his eyes and "tried to get my heart rate down."
To Montgomerie it was as familiar as heartburn. Four times before he had been in a playoff, and four times he had lost, including to Els at the 1994 U.S. Open. Then there was the '92 Open at Pebble Beach that Nicklaus congratulated him on winning before Tom Kite stole it. Now another major was going into the dumpster just behind Hogan's Alley.
He waited for the crowd to settle. He looked at Elkington, and he looked at Elkington's caddie, Dave Renwick, the caddie he could have had last year when Renwick parted with Jose Maria Olazabal. In five majors since, Elkington and Renwick have gone seventh, fifth, 36th, sixth and what sure looked like first. And guess what? Renwick is a Scot.
Montgomerie looked at the putt from all sides and stepped up. Somewhere in the silence of the moment, way above the green, up the 53 steps to the famous clubhouse, a baby was crying.
Annie. Early voting: Baby of the Year.
After she stopped, Montgomerie missed the putt inches to the right, let his double chin drop to his sunken chest, shook hands with Elkington, walked to the side of the green where they were already setting up for the victor's celebration, kicked the flagstick and turned three shades past his original ruddy, right onto eggplant.
"You could not have done any better," he said to nobody in particular as he climbed those suddenly endless steps. "You live your whole life, and it depends on one putt, and...it was all out of my hands." Can a guy be allergic to majors?