There was a rare Monty sighting at last week's Benson & Hedges International Open in Thame, England. The winner of the last five Orders of Merit graced the European tour for only the second time this year, and though Colin Montgomerie played gracefully, tying for fifth behind winner Darren Clarke, his season's earnings of �43,236.67 leave him 41st on the tour's money list. "It isn't a priority," he says of the money title.
No, he would rather obsess about the U.S. Open, his favorite event and his best chance to leave Phil Mickelson as the undisputed Best Player Never to Yada Yada. "If I finish second at the Open, I'll be disappointed," he said on Sunday after losing a 40-quid bet—and the tournament—to his pal Clarke. "There will always be a blip in my career if I don't win a major. Everyone will say, 'Oh, yes, he's very good, but....' I want to erase that but." Having slimmed down last winter, Montgomerie has a lean, hungry mien as he looks toward San Francisco. "I go into the U.S. Open like Tiger Woods goes into the Masters," he says. "On the 1st tee I feel like I'm one up." Though he has never seen the Olympic Club, the renowned straight shooter knows its tight fairways and high rough will suit him better than wide-open Augusta National, where he tied for eighth. "The two courses are chalk and cheese," he says, adding mirthfully, "I love the way you get penalized for a bad shot at the Open."
At the B&H the raconteur from Troon chatted up galleries and reporters alike. "I'm busier at home than at a tournament," he said, referring to his booming course-design firm as well as another labor of love: three-week-old Cameron Montgomerie, whose diapers Monty dutifully changes, perhaps with the same pained look he gives straying putts.
"Everybody wants one, but there are only four a year," he says of majors, not nappies. "That's the problem, you know. There aren't enough to go around."