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Golf: Monty's happy to have more 'disasters'.

Byline: BY PHIL CASEY in New York

COLIN MONTGOMERIE insisted he was looking forward to future US Open "disasters" following another agonising near-miss in a major championship.

Montgomerie double-bogeyed the 18th at Winged Foot when a par would have proved good enough to give him a first major title at the 58th attempt.

Even a bogey would have secured an 18-hole play-off with eventual winner Geoff Ogilvy who then watched as Phil Mickelson also took six on the last to blow his chance of a third successive major victory.

With his 43rd birthday just a few days away - it falls on the second day of this week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles - time is surely running out for the Scot to rid himself of the tag of 'best player not to win a major'.

But after finishing second to Tiger Woods in the Open at St Andrews last year, and second in New York last week, the eight-time European number one was trying to put a brave face on the disappointing result.

"At my age I've got to think positively," he said.

"I'm 43 this week and it's nice I can come back to this tournament and do well again, and I look forward to coming back again next year and try another US Open...disaster!

"This is as difficult as it gets. You wonder sometimes why you put yourselves through this."

Montgomerie, twice a runner-up in the event and third at Pebble Beach as far back as 1992, was two shots behind Mickelson as he surveyed a curling 50ft putt on the 17th green.

It looked a tough task even to get down in two for par but the 42-year-old Scot rolled it in for an improbable birdie, just seconds before Mickelson, playing two groups behind, bogeyed the 16th.

He then hit a perfect drive down the 18th but hit a poor approach short of the green. From heavy rough he was only able to pitch to 30ft and then three-putted for a double-bogey six.

Montgomerie was denied victory in 1992 by an inspired final round from Tom Kite, lost a play-off to Ernie Els in 1994 and was second to Els again in 1997.

And he admitted: "It's the first time I've really messed up. Other chances I've had other people have done very well, this is the first time I've really messed up which is okay. You're entitled to a couple of mess-ups along the way."

He also revealed he had changed from a six-iron to a seven-iron on the 18th, adding: "I thought adrenalin would kick in, I usually hit the ball 10 yards further in those circumstances, but I caught it slightly heavy and it went slightly right. It was a poor shot, no question about it, and I put myself in a poor position.

"It's a very tricky hole but it shouldn't be that tricky from the fairway. I did the hard thing. I hit the fairway, that's my strength normally. I hit the wrong club for my second shot, we put ourselves in poor position after two shots and then it was difficult from then on because that green is very fast."

However, Montgomerie had no complaints about the set up of the course despite Ogilvy becoming the first champion to win without a score in the 60s since Tom Kite in 1992 at Pebble Beach.

You wonder sometimes why you put yourselves through this

COLIN MONTGOMERIE

CAPTION(S):

Colin Montgomerie is left scratching his head to fathom out how he didn't win a first Major at the US Open Picture: MICHAEL CONROY/AP
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 20, 2006
Words:601
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