Singapore, March 21 – Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie shot a sparkling seven-under-par 65 to win the US$900,000 Caltex Masters Presented by Carlsberg, Singapore 2004 today to continue his love affair with events in Asia.
The 40-year-old Montgomerie, four off the pace overnight, hit seven birdies for a total of 16-under-par 272 and a three-shot victory over Thai-based American Greg Hanrahan at Laguna National Golf and Country Club.
Hanrahan, who celebrated his 46th birthday on Saturday, holed a knee-trembling three-footer for par on the last hole to secure the biggest pay cheque of his career with a 72. He was one stroke ahead of India’s Jyoti Randhawa, who shot a closing 66, and Nick O’Hern of Australia in joint third place.
“This justifies all that trouble. People thought I was mad coming over here. After Dubai, I went home and had to come out here again. It’s very warm and I don??t seem to mind the heat. It justifies all the trouble of having to travel around the world,” said Montgomerie, who won US$150,000.
“I haven’t won in Europe for a year and half and it’s a long time. You feel if it’s going to happen. It was good. I dropped one shot at the last in the first round, just one shot in the week. (And) seventeen birdies, thank you. To score 67 and 65 at the weekend is more satisfying than actually winning. I knew I had to shoot a 65 to win and to do that, knowing that the pins were tight, and achieve it is very satisfying.
“It’s nice to get a victory to push me up the world rankings. I did have a bad year (in 2003) and it??s amazing how quickly you fall and I’m sure this will help me. This means an awful lot to me. It means confidence to me as I lost my confidence last year. I have it back now.”
It was Montgomerie’s first win since he shared the Volvo Masters in Spain with Bernhard Langer of Germany in 2002 although he has since triumphed twice in Asia. He edged Thailand??s Thongchai Jaidee to win the TCL Classic in China the week after the Volvo Masters and lifted the Macau Open title last October.
The seven-time European Order of Merit winner took his total triumphs worldwide to 37 and lifted himself back into the top 50 in the world after starting the week at 51st.
In a thrilling final day, Montgomerie drew level with Barry Lane at the top of the leaderboard when the Englishman dropped a shot at the ninth hole and drew one ahead with a birdie at the 13th.
With nobody else making a move, Montgomerie sealed his win with a great shot into the par three 17th, which has been the toughest hole this week. He hit a six iron to two feet of the flag on the hole, which was offering a Volkswagen Touareg as a hole in one prize.
Lane, a 43-year-old veteran, stumbled down the stretch to card a three-over par 75 for joint fifth place.
Hanrahan holed a gutsy for par at the 72nd hole to finish second on his own and pocket a career-best US$100,000, a day after celebrating his 46th birthday.
“I had to make one hell of a two-putt on the last to secure second place. I pulled it off,” said Hanrahan, who has played 167 of the 176 events on the Asian circuit since 1995.
“I backed off a bit when I saw that Monty was 16-under. That was a magnificent round by him with the pins tucked liked that. The average guy cannot go for pins like that – it would have cost too much money.
“On the 17th tee I set my mind on a par, par finish as birdie, birdie would not have won it for me. I am very, very pleased with it (finishing second). The only disappointment was that I had 18 birdies this week and just one today. I did not putt as well as earlier in the week and the pins were tough.
“This gives me a little bit of money in the bank (he won US$100,000)) and now maybe I can start to play better golf, more consistent. But this second place will not change anything. I am going to continue to play on the Asian Tour – after all I am still looking for my first win.”
Randhawa, the 2002 Asian number one, produced another fabulous final round push with his 66. Randhawa, who was joint second in last month’s Johnnie Walker Classic in Bangkok, shot six birdies and an eagle at the 11th hole to finish the Caltex Masters as top Asian.
“I am quite happy with the way I played today. Yesterday I put too much pressure on myself trying to move up – I had a bad day. I kept myself cool and went out out there to accept whatever I got today,” said Randhawa, who won US$50,670.
Taiwan’s Wang Ter-chang finished tied fifth after a 69 alongside Lane and Patrik Sjoland of Sweden while Singapore’s Mardan Mamat came in equal eighth following a 74. Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee slipped to 33rd after a 75 while last year’s winner Zhang Lian-wei closed with a 71 for joint 66th position.
Leading final round scores
272 – Colin Montgomerie (SCO) 71-69-67-65
275 – Greg Hanrahan (USA) 68-68-67-72
276 – Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 72-64-74-66, Nick O’Hern (AUS) 71-68-70-67
278 – Patrik Sjoland (SWE) 70-71-70-67, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 75-68-66-69, Barry Lane (ENG) 71-65-67-75
279 – Brett Rumford (AUS) 71-69-70-69, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 67-68-70-74
280 – Joakim Haeggman (SWE) 73-70-69-68
281 – Jean-Francois Remesy (FRA) 72-69-72-68, Matthew Blackey (ENG) 70-73-67-71, David Gleeson (AUS) 70-71-69-71, Marten Olander (SWE) 73-68-69-71, James Kingston (RSA) 68-69-70-74, Thomas Levet (FRA) 67-75-65-74
282 – Anthony Kang (USA) 69-73-71-69, Kyi Hla Han (MYN) 68-69-74-71, Damien Mcgrane (IRE) 68-68-75-71, Terry Price (AUS) 70-70-69-73, Kang Wook-Soon (KOR) 70-70-69-73, Yang Yong-Eun (KOR) 74-69-66-73
283 – Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 72-70-71-70, Kim Felton (AUS) 73-69-71-70, Anders Hansen (DEN) 74-70-70-69, Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 71-70-74-68, Mads Vibe-Hastrup (DEN) 72-70-70-71, Soren Hansen (DEN) 73-68-71-71, Eddie Lee (NZL) 64-72-75-72, Danny Chia (MAS) 74-70-72-67, Peter Hanson (SWE) 68-73-69-73, Jonathan Lomas (ENG) 71-71-65-76