Colin Montgomerie became the first player to win the same title in three consecutive years on both The European Tour and Senior Tour at sun-drenched Woburn when he beat fellow Scot Ross Drummond at the second extra hole of an epic climax to the Travis Perkins Masters.
The 52 year old birdied the 18th hole in regulation play to squeeze into the play-off and then rolled in an 18 foot birdie putt at the second play-off hole to win a trophy which the sponsors decided he could keep permanently to commemorate his achievement of winning it in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
It was a historic moment for Montgomerie, who won the PGA Championship three times between 1998 and 2000, but the cruellest of conclusions for Drummond, who had victory within his grasp before three putting the final green to record a closing 69 and a five under par total of 211.
After 490 starts on The European Tour and a further 125 on the Senior Tour, it had appeared that he would finally win a Tour title at the age of 58 years and 281 days. However, that fatal glitch on the final hole provided the chink of light which his much decorated rival needed.
Montgomerie unsheathed his driver on the 18th tee, knowing that nothing less than a birdie three would suffice, and smashed it 270 yards to within 15 paces of the front of the green. From there he chipped delicately to two feet and holed out for a round of 71.
The first play-off hole was halved in par fours, with Montgomerie taking a conventional route and Drummond holing from five feet for a par after over-shooting the green. Back the pair of protagonists went to the 18th tee and Drummond had to pitch from behind the green once more to make his par.
However, Montgomerie needed no second invitation and his 18 footer unerringly found the centre of the hole. Drummond’s shoulders slumped and even the three-time winner seemed almost apologetic at ending his countryman’s title dream after 28 years on the European and Senior Tours.
He was generous in his praise for the runner-up, who had played brilliantly all week, and especially under the cosh when leading for most of the final day. He said: “How can you not feel sorry for someone who played the difficult holes so well? The 15th, 16th and 17th are all good, difficult golf holes and Ross did all the difficult stuff very well. You have to feel sorry for him getting so close, but I am sure this will give him a lot of confidence to go forward.”
Montgomerie then reflected on the enormity of his latest achievement. Despite having numerous entries in the golfing record books, the three-time Senior Major champion was overwhelmed by his latest effort, achieved in front of a superb Sunday crowd of 7,174, bringing the total for the week to 17,416, slightly up on 2014.
“I always thought my performance at Wentworth in 1998, 1999 and 200 was the best I could do. Winning three times in a row was really hard on The European Tour, so that was probably the ultimate accolade in my golfing career. But I have to say this comes extremely close to emulating that. Colin Montgomerie
“I came here to Woburn with a lot of pressure on me as the favourite to win and it’s sometimes difficult and harder to achieve when something is expected of you. And today proved that point. I was having some putting issues coming in and three putted the tenth and17th and missed a ‘gimme’ for birdie at the 15th.
“Then I heard that Ross had bogeyed the 18th and it gave me a chance to birdie the last to get into a play-off. That wasn’t easy, knowing you need a birdie and achieving it to get into a play-off. Then I managed that birdie on the second play-off hole. I got very fortunate to come away with a win.”
Drummond was graceful in defeat, but knew he had missed a golden opportunity to win the £48,000 first prize and to enter that elusive winner’s enclosure after five previous second places on the Senior Tour and two more on the main Tour.
“It’s very hard to take” admitted the Prestwick player. “I’ve never won out here in almost three decades and I should have taken the chance. That hurts a lot.”
He added: “I really ought to have wrapped it up in regulation play, but my awkward yardage at the 18th meant I needed a gap wedge and the ball spun back about 30 feet from the hole. I mishit the first putt and didn’t execute the second one from three and a half feet. There’s not much more I can say.”
Spain’s Santiago Luna birdied the 17th hole to set up an opportunity to get to five under par and join the play-off action. However he drove into trees at the last and missed the chance to emulate Montgomerie’s birdie three. He carded a 71 to finish on 212, with England’s Phil Golding fourth on 214.
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