As Montgomerie enters the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013, his triumphs in the Ryder Cup represent the most cherished moments of his four-decade career. On two occasions, the passionate, outspoken Scot clinched the winning points for the Europeans – unleashing jubilant, champagne-soaked celebrations. In 1997 at soggy Valderrama, Montgomerie bisected a curvy fairway with his drive on the par-4 18th and likely would have defeated Scott Hoch, 1 up, had Ballesteros not urged him to concede Hoch’s putt. Seven years later at Oakland Hills, Montgomerie sank a tricky 5-foot putt on the final hole to edge David Toms, 1 up, and seal the Europeans’ second consecutive win.
There is a distinct spot in Montgomerie’s heart reserved for the Ryder Cup. For all his success as a player, he derives the most pride from his win as captain of the European team in 2010 at Celtic Manor. In The Real Monty, Montgomerie’s 2012 autobiography, he wrote that while he’d be thrilled to win an Open Championship or another Major, neither would come close to the feeling he received by leading his team to victory.
“This is one of the finest moments of my golf career, no hang on, this is the greatest moment of my golf career,” Montgomerie said during his winning speech.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, on June 23, 1963, but raised in Yorkshire, England, Montgomerie honed his skills from a young age at the Ilkley Golf Club in Yorkshire. The Alister MacKenzie course may be known most as the club where Harry Vardon won his first professional prize in 1893. Eventually, Montgomerie became one of the first British golfers to play collegiately in the United States when he walked on at Baptist College in Houston. Montgomerie’s father, James, then a secretary at Royal Troon, had a connection with the Christian liberal arts school’s golf coach through a minister. After college, he turned pro shortly after in 1987.