Mark Townsend talks us through the closing stages of the 2006 US Open, where Colin Montgomery probably wishes he could turn back time.
Of all the thousands of shots that Colin Montgomerie has hit this will always be the one that he would want to play again. During the 90s the Scot would repeatedly be Europe’s greatest hope to land the US Open – Graeme McDowell would finally win it at Pebble Beach in 2010, 40 years after Tony Jacklin – but it was in 2006 at the iconic Winged Foot, home to next week’s US Open, that his greatest chance came and went in the blink of an unfathomable 7-iron.
To set the scene Monty holed a ridiculous 75-foot putt at his 71st hole to get to +4 which looked at least good enough for a play-off.
“I’ve never seen my caddie Alistair McLean as buoyant as he was there (on 17) but I hit the fairway.”
The tee shot would be good enough to give him the European Tour Shot of the Month. What followed was a car crash of relatively epic proportions.
“Things went against me in the timing situation. If I had played that shot in real time I would have won. Unfortunately Vijay Singh hit it silly left off the tee and needed two drops, one to get out of one tent and another to get out of another, and it all took eight or nine minutes. I’m not blaming Vijay of course but if my playing partner had hit the fairway I think I would have won the US Open. People will say that shouldn’t affect how you play but it does. Whether they are slow or fast you are affected.”
Aside from Singh’s antics the approach couldn’t have set up better for him.
“As a fader I couldn’t have asked for anything more, it was my green light. When a hole sets up with the pin on the right side of the green that is my green light and whole green sloped from left to right. A birdie was as likely as a par."
But, for once, his mind and body weren’t able to dovetail to produce his trademark fade.
“I fatted it. I had five major runner-up finishes, four where I was beaten and one where I beat myself so people talk about this one.”
From there things unravelled still further as a chip and three putts left the door open for Phil Mickelson who took much of the heat off Monty with a double-bogey of his own. If anything it was even more shambolic.
As for Montgomerie it would be his final top 10 in a major.