EDMOND — Colin Montgomerie stood behind the 18th green after a long day at the end of a long week. He was taking refuge from the Oklahoma sun in a small patch of shade. He was guzzling a bottle of water.
And he was smiling from ear to ear.
Heat? What heat?
Monty, 51, has never felt better — and the rest of the golf world might want to take notice.
On Sunday, Montgomerie won the U.S. Senior Open, shooting 2-under in the final round and besting Gene Sauers in a playoff. Monty, who could never quite get over the hump in majors on the PGA Tour, has now won back-to-back majors on the Champions Tour. With wins in the Senior PGA Championship and the U.S. Senior Open, he gets exemptions into next year’s PGA Championship and U.S. Open.
If he keeps playing like this, don’t be surprised to see him in the mix.
Yes, these majors that he’s won are against the seniors instead of the “juniors,” as he playfully calls them. Yes, these courses aren’t quite as long. But good golf is good golf, and right now, Monty is playing good golf.
“My golf is as good as it was in the ’90s when I was No. 2 in the world,” he said. “It really is. I can’t see any difference between that.”
This week, Montgomerie hit a bunch of fairways and a bunch of greens in regulation. He ranked in the top 10 in both categories, and even though his driving distance and his total putts didn’t rank as well, he still had as many birdies as anyone in the tournament.
You give yourself a chance to make a bunch of birdies when you put your drive in the fairway and your approach on the green. Playing that way wins no matter what kind of competition you’re playing.
And watching Montgomerie after he knocked in that championship-winning putt, you could tell that he feels great about his game.
He stood in that shade behind the 18th green with his wife and three daughters. They hugged and laughed and smiled. Then when it came time for the trophy presentation, Monty was funny and charming and witty.
Then came a round of interviews for TV.
Then came a gauntlet of photo ops. Stand here. Hold the trophy this way. Over here by the scoreboard. Look here. Over here with all the Oak Tree types. Big smile.
Not that anyone needed to tell him to smile.
Even after playing through brutal heat on a merciless course, Monty had a bounce in his step as he went from one thing to another.
Has he ever felt better?
Montgomerie might not be able to go back and play the PGA Tour regularly, but to win one of the big-boy majors that has always eluded him, he only needs to put together four good rounds like he did this week.
“If Tom Watson can do it at 59 — come within an 8-footer from winning at 59 — he’s given everybody over 50 hope,” he said. “You know, you never know.”
Another smile, this one with a little twinkle in his eye.
“You never know.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.