Monty's final-round march refreshing in the day of golfing slow coaches
Scottish veteran gets back in time for his breakfast after playing Troon in well under three hours
Colin Montgomerie: completed his final round at British Open in Royal Troon in just two hours 50 minutes and 45 seconds. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Monty’s Manual on the pace of play is the one we should all adopt for Royal Troon’s famous son knocked it round the final 18 holes of the British Open in two hours, 50 minutes and 45 seconds, a refreshing time in anyone’s book.
Colin Montgomerie has always been regarded as one of the quickest players on tour. In yesterday’s final round the big Scot had clear air for his very own time trial as the first player on the course after teeing off at 07.40.
R&A rules stipulate that Open competitors do not play alone, even though Monty was an odd number as the 81st and final player heading into the last round of the Open.
You get the impression he would have been quite happy racing around the venue he knows so well on his tod but on this occasion Royal Troon’s head professional Kieron Stevenson stepped in to be Monty’s marker.
“The R&A have a rule where they do not want a player to go out on their own. R&A rule not mine, I had no choice. I happen to know Kieron well, he’s a lovely guy,” said Montgomerie after the flag on the 18th green was replaced at precisely 10:30:45.
“We played in two hours, 50 minutes and really I don’t feel as if I’ve rushed. Even our scorer said it was refreshing and it’s the way to play golf. Those of you my age will have been brought up on a round taking three hours. Even old boys get around here in three hours,” said the Troon speed merchant.
“I don’t know how or why four-and-a-half hours, five hours in Major play, has become the norm. The sooner we get back to trying to play this game at a sensible pace the better.”
First playerBy comparison, South Africa’s Haydn Porteous was the first player on the course on Saturday and Stevenson was called upon once more as a marker. The pair went round in three hours, 18 minutes, 30 minutes under the allocation. Another good time but further illustrates Monty’s brisk pace.
Monty is never shy of a word and he elaborated on some possible reasons. At the top of the list was the constant referral of yardages despite them being everywhere, from sprinkler heads to caddies notes. The marking and remarking of balls on greens was another bugbear that could “easily add another 30 minutes onto a round”.
“It’s also a more technical game now rather than being natural when you saw the shot. Lee Trevino always saw it by sight, he felt it was a six or seven iron and just hit it.
“It takes far too long to play and that’s one of the reasons why less people are playing golf and there are less members of golf clubs.”
Sure enough, witnessing the 53-year-old get his way around the course at pace was a novel sight in tournament play. He picks a weapon and with a couple of waggles of the club head he pulls the trigger before getting those big loopy strides up to pace once more.
Granted, he finished the championship 17-over-par after a closing 76 so he never had the situation of being in contention and operating at the business end of proceedings. But Monty’s pace of play remains the same as it was when he was the strutting peacock of European golf and picking off tournaments for fun.
Nine secondsHe and Stevenson played the 178-yard par three 15th in five minutes, 30 seconds. On the next tee it took Monty nine seconds from the moment he stepped into the ball before he made contact. It took just seven seconds for him to launch a low flying driver for his second at the same hole.
These are numbers that fall way below the game’s time parameters to take a shot. Ironically the only thing that held him up were the distractions – and nobody finds distractions better than Monty.
At the 16th when a buggy adjacent to the fairway was racing goods towards the tented village. Monty stepped away and the stare was enough to relay his dismissive thoughts.
“Look, two hours 50 is not fast to play a round of golf,” said Monty, who presumably had to rush off to the studios to carry out his commentary duties.