Golf

Was Monty the right pick for Hall?

Colin Montgomerie's highest world ranking was No. 2.
GolfWeek Alistair Tait
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I have mixed feelings about the next induction for the World Golf Hall of Fame.

As a proud Scot, I should be jumping for joy at the thought of two of my compatriots, Ken Schofield and Colin Montgomerie, in the Hall, but something is nagging at me. I have reservations about Montgomerie’s induction.

I have no problems with Schofield. The European Tour would not be where it is today without the former executive director’s vision.

Schofield had the foresight to take the Euro Tour outside Europe’s borders. He first did that in 1982 with the Tunisian Open. Then came the 1989 Dubai Desert Classic. It paved the way for a European Tour that now goes to the far corners of the globe.

Yes, Schofield was lucky to be in charge when Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam played the European Tour. However, he still had to deliver sponsors to the table, and he did that brilliantly for 30 years.

Besides, if Deane Beman is in the hall, then Schofield deserves a place, too.

As for Montgomerie, how he makes it in before Ian Woosnam or Padraig Harrington has me baffled beyond belief.

(While we’re talking baffled beyond belief, if golf truly is an international game, then why does the Hall of Fame insist on an international ballot for Montgomerie? Surely there should be only one ballot for all players, right?)

There is no question Monty was a huge player in the 1990s. Though I disagree with those who say his seven consecutive European Order of Merit titles will never be repeated, that achievement was impressive.

Covering the European Tour in the 1990s meant covering Monty’s halcyon days. You can’t imagine how many times he provided a story when stories were pretty thin in the ground.

Of course, you were never sure what story you were going to get from the Scotsman. We had a saying back in those days. Monty could be “wonderful on Wednesday but thunderous on Thursdays.” And he often was. He was Jekyll and Hyde.

I ghost-wrote for him when he was a guest columnist at another magazine. I sometimes went to his house to collaborate on such columns. He could be charming and engaging. Three days later, I’d encounter him at a tournament after a bad round and he’d be the devil incarnate. I can’t think of many tour pros as rude as Monty could be after a bad round.

Yes he was a prolific winner, but he never recorded the major championship he coveted so badly. He never reached World No. 1. He never won on American soil. Woosnam did all of the above. Harrington never reached World No. 1, but three majors is three more than Monty has. Yet they’ve had to take a back seat to the Scotsman.

Moreover, Woosnam and Harrington have no skeletons in their cupboards. The word “Jakarta” won’t be mentioned in May when Monty is inducted into the hall in St. Augustine, Fla., during Players Championship week. Yet the 2005 Indonesian Open, in which Monty took a controversial drop after weather suspended play, hangs over him like a dark cloud.

Many, myself included, still are uncomfortable with Monty’s actions during that event. Yet that tournament has been glossed over as if it never occurred.

You can’t deny Monty’s record of 31 European Tour wins, eight Ryder Cups and captaining Europe to victory in the 2010 match. Does that deserve induction before Woosnam or Harrington? I don’t think so.

No qualms with Schofield, but Woosnam or Harrington would have been my choices for the Class of 2013.

Tagged: Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Padraig Harrington

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