I'll admit, I was never much of a Colin Montgomerie fan. But that changed -- at least, briefly -- when I drew the plum assignment of following the Scot around Winged Foot in one of Sunday's final groups at the 2006 U.S. Open.
A week shy of his 43rd birthday and with his career in its twilight, Monty managed to hold things together as well as anyone that day on the treacherous A.W. Tillinghast track, and I, a young reporter rooting for a great story, believed I had lucked my way into covering this unlikely major championship win from inside the ropes. Then, Montgomerie pulled, well, a Montgomerie.
Pumped up from draining a 50-footer for birdie on No. 17 to take a share of the lead with Phil Mickelson, Montgomerie found the 18th fairway (something Phil famously wouldn't accomplish minutes later), but chose a 7-iron for the uphill, 172-yard shot. He didn't come close. A pitch and three putts later, Monty, like Mickelson, wound up one shot behind winner Geoff Ogilvy. Unlike Phil, Monty didn't collect his runner-up trophy at the awards ceremony, instead storming off and reportedly having an altercation with a New York state trooper.
Just like that, Montgomerie's final opportunity to capture a major championship was gone. One would think his chances at being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame had vanished as well. I was wrong.