Order of Battle
Colin Montgomerie fought off two rivals to win a sixth straight money title
Europe's year boiled down to Sunday afternoon at the Montecastillo Golf Resort in Jerez, Spain, where three guys from the British Isles fought it out for the heavyweight crown. Scotland's 6'1", 210-pound Colin Montgomerie, England's 6-foot, 205-pound Lee Westwood and Northern Ireland's 6'2", 225-pound Darren Clarke hit town for the season-ending Volvo Masters ranked 1-2-3 on the Order of Merit, the European tour's money list, which Montgomerie had won a record five straight times. The leader had a dicey $76,045 edge on West-wood, who at 25 is 10 years younger than Monty, longer off the tee and cooler under the gun—a loosey-goosey Baby Huey to Montgomerie's Grumpy.
"I'm cruising," said Westwood after a 10-foot birdie to close the third round got him even with Australia's Peter O'Malley, one up on Montgomerie with 18 holes to go. On Sunday, though, Westwood's cruise dead-ended in the Volvo crash of the week. He hit his tee shot at the 172-yard, par-3 14th hole out-of-bounds, reloaded, swung and watched that ball sail OB, too. He would scramble for a seven, but his 75 in the season's finale left him feeling like a San Diego Padre.
Montgomerie still couldn't relax. Suddenly here came Clarke, an eight-year pro out of Portmarnock Links—'tween Dublin and Loughshinny, it is—blazing through Montecastillo's olive groves with four birdies on the first five holes and an eagle at the 517-yard, par-5 9th to make the turn with the lead.
"It was his tournament," said Montgomerie. Yet to go to the head of the Order, Clarke needed more than a win. He also needed Westwood to finish fourth or worse and Montgomerie ninth or worse. Westwood did his part for Clarke at 14, but what of Monty, who'd missed cuts and scads of putts at the U.S. and British Opens and allied his summer "a bit of a disaster"? After Clarke put a course-record 63 on the scoreboard, Montgomerie was left to grapple with his demons—and his putter—all the way home.
He barely blinked. After the British Open, short-game guru Dave Pelz introduced Montgomerie to a laser-equipped device, the LazrAimer, which showed that Monty was aiming putts up to eight inches off-line. Since then Montgomerie, who takes the gizmo on the road and practices with it in hotel rooms, has putted like Mark O'Meara. At Montecastillo, which translates roughly to Castle of Monty, he beamed down five birdie putts on his way to a final-round 68, good for third in the Volvo and a sixth straight money tide.
"It's getting tougher," said Monty, who earned $1.66 million for the year, including a $284,000 Merit bonus. "I saw Darren had gone to the turn in 30.1 had to counteract him, and I'm proud of how I did it By staying away from the pins, I did exactly the right thing. I played solidly, gave myself lots of chances—and the putts dropped."
What's missing from the new sitcom The Secret Lives of Men (ABC, 9:30 p.m., Wednesdays), which revolves around three divorced New Yorkers who share a jones for golf? Try golf. We're supposed to buy the trendy proposition that the show's heroes are guys' guys because they're golfers. Yet while Lives is punchily written and deftly acted by stars Peter Gallagher, Mitch Rouse and Brad Whitford, there's little of the gamesmanship and "Want to double the bet before you choke your guts out?" banter that makes real golf chat so cruelly lively. Instead, the guys sit around gossiping in locker rooms and bars. As the show's ad line has it, Behind closed doors men are just like women.
Trouble is, it's not so. Here's the real secret about men in the exclusive company of men, be it on the fairway or at the bar: We don't have much to say. We're guarded. We talk about our golf games, and other sports, largely to avoid discussing our inner lives. Mention your hurt feelings at the 19th hole, and your buddies won't buy you a drink, they'll buy you a dress.