After celebrating his 50th birthday a week ago, Colin Montgomerie was on his way to Pittsburgh to play the Constellation Senior Players at Fox Chapel Golf Club.
Montgomerie was 1 under par after two rounds of play but improved as the weekend went on, shooting 7 under for the final 36 holes to finish in a tie for ninth place. Sunday’s round started with four birdies in the first seven holes. The lone blemish was a bogey on No. 8. He did birdie the 16th and 18th holes.
Early in the week, eventual winner Kenny Perry told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that you had to shoot really low to win on the Champions Tour, and many golfers said that the motto of the tour is that “these guys are still good” – a play on the PGA Tour slogan. Montogomerie found this out at Fox Chapel.
“I’m delighted with a top 10 to start,” Montgomerie said. “It’s my first outing here and to see how I feel and how the standard is, and I’ve obviously a lot of work to do because the standard’s very, very high.
“I knew that before I came out, it’s just a matter of witnessing it firsthand. I know there’s some great golfers here and I’ve got to cut out the mistakes to compete on that level.”
Putting woes separate cream of the crop
Montgomerie tied with Peter Senior and Bill Glasson. Senior noted a specific reason why he was not in contention in the fourth round.
“I played pretty good this week, just didn’t putt well,” Senior said. “I had a lot of opportunities, but the course was a little soft and I couldn’t control my wedge shots on the shorter holes. All in all the course was in great shape.”
A similar problem hit many of the other golfers, including Bernhard Langer and Peter Jacobsen.
Langer finished in eighth place. He came into the weekend at 1 over before shooting a 7-under 63. Still, he viewed the round as a missed opportunity.
“It felt great but it could have been a lot better,” Langer said. “I said to my caddy and my family that it could have been a 59, I played good enough for that, but I missed a bunch of putts.”
Jacobsen finished at 2 over for the tournament and it was putting that set him apart, although the woes seemed to be contagious for his playing partners.
“I was in a group with (Jay) Haas and (John) Cook and we made no putts,” Jacobsen said. “I think the longest putt we made was an eight-footer. None of us had it on the greens today or this week.”
Jacobsen was 1 under for the tournament going into the final round; however, after a birdie on the second birdie, he had four bogeys in his front nine. Jacobsen described a problem he said was affecting all of the golfers.
“You don’t miss as many fairways but getting the ball close to the hole is hard, because the greens are so soft, the ball spins off the green,” Jacobsen said. “If you watch the players on their wedge shots, the balls are spinning off the green. It’s tough to judge.”
Perry and the Pirates ‘Raise the Jolly Roger’
After his third round, Perry did confirm the various tweets that said he was at the Pirates game and said that they did motivate him.
With the Pirates owning the best record in baseball, was it coincidental that the Pirates are breaking through while Perry now has done the same by winning a major?
“Well, it’s a little coincidental I guess,” Perry said. “I had a great time at the game. I couldn’t believe how many people — I watched the game last night and I saw my seat where I was sitting the night before and I was like, no wonder everybody could see me. I got in the Lexus area and I had a wonderful time.”
“The Pirates infield, to me they’ve got the best defense in Major League Baseball. I love Jordy [Mercer] and that [Neil] Walker kid, the way they can turn double plays, it was just phenomenal. I just had a great time watching that team.
“So yeah, it’s nice to get your mind off of golf, it’s nice to kind of get away from it, just relax, watch something else and then when I come to the golf course get your mind set on what you need to do, so it was a good relief for me to get away.”
Fox Chapel Golf Club grounds crew praised for work
Walking the course on Friday after play was suspended, spectators stepped on what was supposed to be fairway but instead were puddles.
According to Champions Tour president Mike Stevens, under any other circumstance the tournament would not get played. Instead players would try to play through two rounds and determine a champion, but because this was a major all four rounds would need to be played.
While the course relented to low scoring and an average that was nearly half a stroke lower than last year, the grounds crew at Fox Chapel kept the course playable drawing a loud standing ovation at the awards ceremony in the clubhouse. Both Stevens who called them the “best grounds crew I’ve seen” and the players talked very highly of this group all week.
“They’ve been out here twice as long as us,” Senior said. “I take my hat off to those guys, they really did a good job to get the course ready and get us around.”
The Constellation Senior Players is expected to return to Fox Chapel Golf Club next year.
Amey Fink also contributed to this report