Maybe so. One can stand being called Mrs. Doubtfire only so many times. It is true that Montgomerie does not look like an athlete. If the stereotypical golfer is built like a one-iron, Montgomerie is more the Big Berthas that he plays for Callaway. Mark James made the starting statement not long ago that he would never invite Montgomerie to his birthday party.
"Why not?" someone asked.
"Because he would eat all the cake," James replied.
But looks deceive. Watch Montgomerie swing a club, and you'll understand that the good Lord granted him extraordinary gifts. There is a bounce to his walk, a heel-to-toe gait that speaks of an inner metronome. Though his handshake is firm, his hands are soft. "He's very flexible," says Paul Marchand, the Houston teaching pro who has been working with Monty for 18 months. "You might not suspect that by his build. He's got loose joints in his upper body. His wrists and shoulders have a huge range of motion. He has never had back trouble." Words you never thought you'd read: Most Tour golfers would rather have Monty's body than their own.
Then there is Montgomerie's practice regimen. He doesn't have one. Bruce Lietzke, winner of 13 Tour events, is famous for getting away with not practicing. Lietzke, on the other hand, is about to turn 49 and has two top 10 finishes in the last four years. Though the work ethic among pro golfers, who spend hours on the range or in the gym, seems to ratchet up every year, Montgomerie has taken Lietzke's approach and gone further.
"When he does come to the range, he only chats," says Padraig Harrington, a Ryder Cup teammate. "If Monty spends 45 minutes there, he spends half an hour chatting." Harrington, who is as renowned for his workload as Montgomerie is for his lack of one, doesn't begrudge him: "He has extreme natural talent. If he practiced too much, he could lose that. A lot of players have lost their game by trying to find something different. You do see him hitting a few more chips and putts."
After two miserable putting rounds in Germany, Montgomerie took a 30-minute putting lesson from David Leadbetter, who encouraged Monty to allow his right hand to become dominant. Montgomerie responded keenly to the lesson, shooting rounds of 68-67 on the weekend. After the third round, which Montgomerie concluded by hitting a three-iron 207 yards to within an inch of the hole, he announced he had a lot of work to do on the putting green. "I'm thinking of too many things," he said. "Anything I have to think about is radical for me. I don't think about much when I swing. You go out and make a score. There's enough going on."
For Montgomerie, a lot of work means that a half hour after he went to practice on the putting green, he was nowhere in sight. A fan standing nearby said Montgomerie had been gone for 10 minutes.
Montgomerie also has a finely tuned feel for his equipment. Sean Brady, a European tour representative for Callaway, says Montgomerie's calibratory skills are almost unmatched. "If you had a driver that was a swingweight or a flex off from what his clubs are, particularly his irons, he could tell," Brady says. "A swingweight is two grams. Get yourself a couple of 20-dollar bills and wrap them around the shaft. That's what we're talking about."
Perhaps it's no wonder that someone so finely calibrated is so sensitive to what's happening inside and outside the ropes. Montgomerie sees and hears things that never enter the consciousness of most golfers. His longtime caddie, Alastair McLean, stands on the green like a London bobby directing traffic, arm outstretched, barking instructions to the gallery in his Scottish burr: "No cameras! Stand please!" Question is, Will McLean be made to work overtime at Pebble Beach?