Colin Montgomerie captured his first title on The European Tour International Schedule for 16 months with a flawless exhibition of control and aggression to lift the Caltex Masters, presented by Carlsberg, Singapore, 2004, at Laguna National Golf & Country Club.
The 40 year old Scot displayed flashes of the Montgomerie of old by landing his 28th European Tour title on his 375th start and his 37th worldwide, courtesy of a superb seven under par 65 for a total of 272, 16 under par, for a three stroke win over American Greg Hanrahan.
Montgomerie now holds the distinction of having one at least once somewhere in the world since 1993, his previous success also having come in Asia, in the 2003 Macau Open, while his last European Tour victory was that dramatic shared title with Bernhard Langer of Germany in the Volvo Masters Andalucia in November 2002.
In the process, Montgomerie completed the biggest final round comeback on The 2004 European Tour International Schedule – four strokes – and his closing score was his lowest to win a tournament since an equally impressive 64 in The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond five years ago.
Overnight, the seven-time Volvo Order of Merit winner trailed Hanrahan and England’s Barry Lane by four shots after progressing each day with scores of 71-68-67, but knew he needed a fast start in order to exert some pressure on the players ahead of him. He got exactly that.
A 25 foot birdie putt on the first hole was followed by a two-putt birdie four on the next and, dramatically, the famous name appeared on the leaderboard around the Laguna National course. By the ninth, he had drawn level and a birdie on the 13th put him ahead for the first time all week.
The crowning moment came at the menacing 17th, a par three with water, water everywhere. Montgomerie selected a six iron and from 184 yards, knocked a towering shot to two and a half feet. The coronation was now assured.
“I just took dead aim and hit a great shot” he said. “When the putt went in I felt very safe. The two early birdies were important, though. I wanted my name on the leaderboard as soon as possible and after 20 minutes it was there.
“I had a challenge here to get into the Tournament Players Championship in Florida next week and I was proud to do that without making any bogeys in the last three rounds and only one all week.
“I was four behind going into the last round and four behind one person gives you a chance. To be four behind two people there is much less of a chance and I knew I needed a 65 today. It was very, very satisfying to go out and do just that.”
Montgomerie’s victory elevated him to eighth on the Volvo Order of Merit with 280,959 euro while he now lies 14th on theRyder Cup Points List, not that he is concerning himself with that right now. He added: “It’s too early in the season to talk about that. I know that I am good enough to help his (Bernhard Langer’s) team. Right now I am happy to win this and not worry what might or might not happen in September.”
Lane, chasing his first European Tour title for ten years, closed with a 75 for a share of fifth place while he joint leader after 54 holes, Thailand-based Hanrahan, got round in a level par 72 to collect the second place money.
India’s Jyoti Randhawa finished third alongside Australian, Nick O’Hern on 276, shooting 66 and 67 respecticaly, while Lane was on 278 along with Sweden’s Patrik Sjoland and Taipei’s Ter-Chang Wang.
Lane admitted: “I just got a little bit despondent towards the end. I missed a few fairways coming home by just a matter of feet and ended up ‘dead’ each time, which was unfortunate. Other than that I played well all week.”