I?ve finally seen Monty though it very nearly killed me trying to do it. I hiked about seventeen miles around Carnoustie trying to find the elusive big man but managed to catch up with him on the ninth tee. Yes, that is the furthest point on the course and yes, my legs are very tired. But the trek was worth it as I witnessed some vintage Monty over the few holes I followed him for. Decked out in varying shades of brown, Montgomerie looked suave and winning as he discussed tactics with his coach Denis Pugh. He signed autographs, talked cheerily with an attractive young steward (female obviously,) and generally exuded gravitas. He also hit some majestic iron shots into the 9th then the 10th green firing them in high and landing them soft. He?s on form and the layoff over last weekend can only have done him good. Come on Monty.
Montgomerie was not the first Scot I followed today. I thought all my Scot Watch Christmases had come at once when I strolled out onto the course only to happen upon a four ball featuring Paul Lawrie, Alastair Forsyth and Richie Ramsay, oh and Sweden?s Carl Petterson. After watching the boys for a couple of holes here?s what I think of their form. (Not Carl?s, I?m not really interested in him.)
Paul ? The last man to win at Carnoustie, he hit a lovely tee shot off the 15th tee. Unfortunately he proceeded to fat one into the bunker that lies 25 yards short of the green. I then saw him pull one left from the 16th tee, practice a few short shots and head back towards the hotel. He?s played those last two holes loads of times anyway.
Richie ? He seemed to be hitting the ball solidly and fairly straight. He had a slightly disappointing moment though. Practicing from the swale to the left of the 16th he caressed a lovely long putt up to about a foot from the pin. A rustle of applause then came from the stand behind the green. Richie turned to acknowledge their approval only to realise they?d been watching John Daly fire one into the 18th.
Alastair ? He?d been participating in a trick shot display at the Callaway party last night. There he?d attempted to hit a green 153 yards distant with his driver, his wedge and his four iron. ?I wouldn?t normally include those sort of shots in my practice routine.? He told me afterwards. ?Hopefully I?ll never need to try and hit a driver 150 yards.? I assume Forsyth still had the massive slice with a four iron he?d attempted last night in his mind on the 15th and 16th. That would be why he overcompensated on his approaches pulling them well left.
What I can say about all three is they are exceedingly friendly and jovial characters. They were enjoying a great rapport with the Scottish crowd (the most knowledgeable in world golf by the way), they shared jokes and displayed the sort of camaraderie many of the US players have only ever seen in Vietnam films. Even if they miss the cut, and they may well, they?ll smile and wave all the way.
Some notable acts of Scottishness I?ve seen today:
– A man with long red hair and no shirt on.
– Approximately 37 men wearing flat caps.
– Me driving the wrong way down a one way street because, ?Really, I should be allowed to.?
– A loon scoffing a hot dog and an ice cream almost simultaneously.
– Dougie Donnelly on a buggy.