Colin Montgomerie’s seven-year reign as Europe’s No. 1 golfer might come to an end at this week’s WGC-American Express Championship at Valderrama but the combative Scot is determined not to give up his title without a fight.
This morning, in the second match out on the course, Montgomerie birdied the 1st, eagled the 2nd after holing a wedge shot from 100 yards and then fired his second hole-in-one in seven days with a 4-iron at the 12th on his way to recording a five under par 67. That gives him a two round aggregate of two under par 142, now just seven shots behind overnight leader, Nick Price, and he might have been two shots closer but for misjudging the wind at the short 6th and running up a double bogey.
“That was an interesting round of golf,” said Montgomerie moments after handing in his card. “It’s amazing but I can’t seem to stop holing full shots at the moment.”
Montgomerie’s ace at the 12th was his second in seven days because he also holed out on the 14th hole during the second round at last week’s Volvo Masters at Montecastillo and it means that he has now had almost 20 aces during his amateur and professional careers.
“That’s an awful lot and I have to admit that today’s one couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Montgomerie still believes that he has a faint chance to win this week and go on to capture his eighth successive Volvo Order of Merit title but he also admitted that he had further motivation this morning.
“I was playing for professional pride when I set out this morning and that’s something that means an awful lot to me,” he said. “But, now that I’ve gone round in 67, I’ve got to believe that I can still do it. Obviously, it’s a tall order but I’ll never give up as long as I’ve got a mathematical chance to do it.”
Montgomerie went into the WGC-American Express Championship, the last event counting towards the Volvo Order of Merit, languishing in sixth place on the list behind Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Thomas Bjorn and Michael Campbell. Midway through the second round at Valderrama, money list leader, Darren Clarke was standing at level par after 35 holes, Westwood was one over par after 33 holes and Bjorn was also one over after six holes of his second round.
With Els withdrawing after nine holes of his first round, the best placed of those above Montgomerie on the list was Campbell who was at two under with four holes of his second round left to go.