Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie ended an enthralling final day with a victorious birdie three at the home of golf, the Old Course at St Andrews, to lift the dunhill links championship after a tension packed fourth round battle with his playing partner, Kenneth Ferrie of England.
With the Old Course well protected by its most respected defence – cold, gusting winds – it was never going to be a low scoring final day. But the crowds that braved the elements were treated to a tension packed afternoon’s golf that went all the way to the wire, as Montgomerie holed a three foot birdie putt on the hallowed 18th green to record a fourth round of one under par 71, while Ferrie posted a disappointing 77 to finish in second place.
Montgomerie’s victory, his first since the Caltex Masters, presented by Carlsberg Singapore 2004 is his 29th on The European Tour International Schedule in his 415th European Tour event, which sees him join 2006 Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam of Wales in a tie for fourth position in the all-time list of most European Tour International Schedule victories.
The €662,415 (£449,741) winner’s cheque is the single biggest prize Montgomerie has won on The European Tour and moves the 42 year old to second place on the current Order of Merit behind US Open Champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand.
The Scot began the final round at the Old Course, after opening the tournament with scores of 70 at Carnoustie, 65 at St Andrews and 73 at Kingsbarns, five strokes behind Ferrie, but soon set about clawing the Englishman back with a birdie at the par four second hole.
Both men birdied the fifth to keep the gap between the two men at four strokes before Ferrie dropped three shots in the space of two holes, giving Montgomerie a huge boost in confidence. But, as the Old Course so often does when Mother Nature throws up her natural defences, that boost was taken away from the Scotsman as he then dropped three shots while playing the 11th and 12th.
The tables then turned again, with Ferrie bogeying the 13th before a vital two shot swing on the 15th – where Ferrie bogeyed and Montgomerie birdied – brought the Scot into a tie for first place with three holes to play.
At this stage, the nerves and tensions that accompany such high pressure playing conditions really kicked in as both men dropped a shot on the 15th to remain tied atop the leaderboard. They then rose to the occasion at the Old Course’s notorious Road Hole with a pair of splendid par fours, leaving the stage set for that final hole shoot-out that saw Montgomerie put the seal on a tremendous battling display.
“I said the next win would be the most important of my career, and it is, so this is the most important win of my career,” said Montgomerie. “The seven Orders of Merit just kept rolling along; It wasn't – I wouldn't say it was easy, but it was expected. And then it stops. And then, and then my life changed dramatically a couple of years ago and I always said to myself, the next win would be the most influential and the most important of my career, and this is it. And especially being here at St Andrews.”
Ferrie was massively disappointed with the 77 the saw him finish second ahead of Denmark’s Anders Hansen, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and the Swedish pair of Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson – who partnered his Amateur partner Rurik Gobel to the Pro-Am team prize.
Ferrie, the reigning European Open Champion who moves to eight place on the Order Of Merit, said: “To have been five in front and then Colin to just shoot 71 to win is pretty poor. Colin did play pretty poor but I needed to shoot 75 to win basically and to not do that after playing so well all week……. All the little breaks that I have been getting all week and that had gone my way seemed to go against me today so it’s just one of those days that is very disappointing.
“I feel that I let him win. I could have put more pressure on him when I had a chance. I got back to three ahead after 13 but then made silly bogey all the way in. It’s my own fault – I have got nobody to blame but myself.”