Written by By Staff Writer, CNN
When Dave Montgomerie shot a then-course record of 64 at the Old Course in 1995 he didn’t know he was doing something special.
The Scot’s accomplishments as the long game’s greatest weapon were much derided at the time, but his No. 1 world ranking and mega-millions from endorsement deals helped him become a lot less anonymous.
“I think they just found out you had balls,” he said at the age of 46 . “Then I had to make them a little bit taller, a little bit straighter and the easier way to say it is better hair.”
“This is the story of the life of David Montgomerie,” Ken Venturi, the first black player to play in the Masters, who had watched Montgomerie’s record-breaking 63, said at the time. “How many American golfers can you name who had a 64? Probably none.”
20 some years later Montgomerie now carries a kevlar frame instead of his favorite twos. But he still cuts a striking figure in green pants and a garnet purple sweater. He also still commands respect.
“There’s not much mention of the golf these days, but when Dave walked in the room, it was just like he was in front of heaven, the guys would be like Jesus,” John Daly, Montgomerie’s long-time friend and compatriot, said.
13 consecutive wins
Despite his immense popularity, however, Montgomerie is not popular in some circles. He was accused of gross misconduct by officials in 2006 after losing at the Volvo China Open in the playoff after giving a two-stroke penalty because the organisers had failed to put an angle at which he’d shot over the green in the preceding group.
His 1997 win was the last time he had a year of major wins, but he won 13 straight one-hole playoff holes after that. And even though he never won a major event in the end, the success of Montgomerie’s bagman Mick Desmond has made him a golfing superstar.
“When I won I said why the hell hasn’t he won a major before?” Desmond recalled. “Because he had nobody around him. For me to go to Augusta and to have 20-odd wins and still be unknown is just unbelievable.
“You’ve seen the impact of Donnie Walker in tennis and Roger Federer. He said to me at the end of the Ryder Cup that’s the first time he’s seen an athlete make it. To see somebody you think has no chance…(show up on) the final day and win a major.”
Montgomerie’s victory at the 1986 Ryder Cup was his 12th matchplay victory. The 1981 West Virginia Open is the only major of his career that he lost, and he still holds the course record for a final round at Torrey Pines — four under par.
But the Scot hasn’t won since 2008, and suffered humiliation earlier this year when he finished tied for 36th at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills in New York.
“You just haven’t won the Masters, the Open and the US Open, it’s an amazing achievement,” Desmond said. “But I don’t believe he ever got the chances to win a major tournament.”
“You have a little battle with yourself, you see one of the greatest players of all time, once you’ve done it once,” Desmond said. “You start doubting yourself a little bit.”
That doubt can affect even the best golfers. Pro golfer Lanny Wadkins once compared Montgomerie to Michael Jordan, as both are multimillionaires after reputations grew as superstars in sports they weren’t originally very good at.
But it’s not hard to see why Wadkins is wrong. Montgomerie still can hit a golf ball which looks like it came from another planet, and the passion he keeps at it is undiminished.
In the NFL, an offensive line doesn’t always go out of its way to help its quarterback. Montgomerie extends his limbs when it comes to the golf course.
“Why would he give anything to get a win?,” Desmond asked. “Why is it important?”