Colin Montgomerie produced golf which his rivals rated out of this world by turning a three shot overnight deficit into a three stroke victory in the Standard Life Loch Lomond.
One of Montgomerie’s predecessors as champion, Thomas Bjorn, turned disbelievingly to the 1999 winner as he left the course and said wryly: “What planet are you from?”
The simple answer was Ayrshire in Scotland – and that fact wasn’t lost on Montgomerie as he captured his 20th title on the European Tour and his first in his native country.
Montgomerie blitzed Loch Lomond in 64 blows to record a 16 under par total of 268, securing a three shot win over Michael Jonzon (66) and Mats Lanner (69) of Sweden and the teenage wonder kid, Sergio Garcia (68).
After so many years of trying, and so many close calls, it was a sweet moment for Montgomerie to savour as the ecstatic West of Scotland supporters cheered him every step of the way.
It had been 15 years since a Scot won in Scotland when Ken Brown lifted the Glasgow Open and Montgomerie, with one eye on Carnoustie next week, said: “One gone and one to go, I suppose.
“At the same time I’m not thinking about the Open at Carnoustie. This is very special to me, coming from this side of Scotland myself and winning in front of such superb and knowledgeable crowds. The support I had was unbelievable.”
Montgomerie, who set off three behind Lee Westwood, bogeyed the first but hinted of his transportation to another planet which excellence prevails at the fifth. A five iron to three feet started the ball rolling.
That turned out to be the first of nine birdies between the fifth and the 16th – nine under par for 12 holes in the middle of the round – and it proved sufficient to burn off all his challengers.
Garcia, who moves to fifth in the Volvo Order of Merit and seventh in the Ryder Cup table, opened with two birdies in the first three holes and could have moved within a stroke of Montgomerie with two to play, but bogeyed the 16th.
That effectively ended the chances of the amazing teenager and he conceded: “It was tough because Monty played great today. I looked at the scoreboard and he was just making birdies, birdies and birdies. He played a marvellous last round and I congratulate him. Next week I will try to play well and see if I can finish in the top 15 for next year.”
Jonzon played his best tournament of the year to secure his card for 2000. After finishing with a 66 he said: “That takes me past the dreaded mark for the card next year so I’m delighted. That was definitely my best round of the week.”
Westwood, seeking to defend his Loch Lomond crown, was in a three way tie for the lead at one stage but a double bogey at the 10th, where he had a penalty drop, effectively ended his challenge.
Jesper Parnevik, one behind overnight, was also in a strong position but came to grief with a seven at the long sixth and could not recover. He tied Westwood for fifth.
Garcia was one of five players not otherwise exempt to qualify for the Open Championship along with David Park, Angel Cabrera, Miguel Angel Martin and Paul Eales.