By Jay Betsill
EDMOND, OK — 51-year-old Scotsman Colin Montgomerie had never won a major in 71 attempts or a professional playoff in nine tries. After a scorching hot weekend at famed Oak Tree National, he has officially exorcised both of those demons in less than two months.
Following his victory at the Senior PGA Championship in May, Montgomerie added the U.S. Senior Open by defeating Gene Sauers in a three-hole aggregate playoff. In doing so, Montgomerie became only the fifth golfer to win both the Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open in the same year.
“You have to play intelligent golf, and I think I’ve matured enough to realize that and play more within myself sometimes, including today, to play away from some pins so you don’t make bogies,” Montgomerie said. “You realize that in major golf, pars are usually good enough, especially in the USGA events.”
Montgomerie led at the end of the first and second days of the Senior Open, but following a third round 74, he entered the final round four shots behind Sauers. Sauers had a chance to win the tournament in regulation, but his 15-foot birdie putt lipped out. The three-hole playoff was contested on 16,17 and 18 and Montgomerie led by one going into the final hole, where he would drain a 16-foot putt for the victory. This was the first playoff at a U.S. Senior Open since 2002, when Don Pooley defeated Tom Watson in a five-hole playoff.
“I’ve been close in these USGA championships a couple of times,” he said. “I’ve lost in a playoff and been one shot behind a couple of times, and you have to wait to (over age) 50 to finally win one.”
1997 Colonial champion David Frost and Woody Austin tied for third at 1 under. Jeff Sluman (who won the 1988 PGA Championship contested at Oak Tree National), 2003 Byron Nelson winner Vijay Singh and Marco Dawson tied for fifth at even par. Bernard Langer, who played with Sauers in the final pairing, fired a 77 on Sunday to finish 2-over in tie for ninth.
After a week off, the next stop on the Champions Tour is the Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl, July 24-27.