PGA Japan Airlines: Colin Montgomerie, by a whisker

By The Sports Xchange
Colin Montgomerie emerged as the winner of the Japan Airlines Championship on Sunday. Photo by Scott R. Galvin/UPI
Colin Montgomerie emerged as the winner of the Japan Airlines Championship on Sunday. Photo by Scott R. Galvin/UPI | License Photo

Colin Montgomerie fired a final round 5-under 67 to win the Japan Airlines Championship, the first PGA Tour Champions event in the country.

The 54-year-old Hall of Famer from Scotland finished the Tokyo-area tournament at 14-under 202 for a one-stroke victory over Americans Billy Mayfair and second-round leader Scott McCarron.


Montgomerie two-putted for par from 50 feet on the par-4 18th on Narita Golf Club's massive greens in Chiba to claim his fifth victory on the Champions Tour and first since he beat McCarron nearly a year ago at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship in British Columbia.

"The greens were as good as any, and I mean this, as good as any as we have ever putted on, ever," Montgomerie said afterward. "And we've putted on some great, great surfaces. In the 30 years as a pro, these are as good as any we have putted on as a putting surface. Superb putting surfaces. And the way the course was manicured was exceptional."


Montgomerie, who won 31 times on the European Tour and topped the tour's money list a record eight times, was impressed with the 50-and-over tour's first event in Japan.

"It's a big deal, a very big deal," said Montgomerie, who was sidelined 2 1/2 months in the spring by torn ligaments in his left ankle. "And let's hope that the success of this event goes forward and not only allows the PGA Tour Champions to come back and compete but also allows the PGA Tour to come and play here. It will be fantastic if that time ever comes."

Montgomerie holed out a 60-footer on the par-4 13th as one of his five birdies on the back nine.

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"I think when I holed the putt on the 14th hole for my third birdie in a row, I felt that I had a chance then," Montgomerie said. "I'm a big scoreboard watcher and knew I was leading. I just had to make sure I birdied 17 and par in, which I did."

Mayfair shot a 66 while playing two groups ahead of Montgomerie. Mayfair missed a 6-foot birdie try on 18 that cost him a chance to tie.


"I hit a good putt and I knew it wasn't going to go in the center, but I thought it would catch the left edge and it just came out," Mayfair said. "But I made so many putts today and the whole week."

McCarron birdied the final two holes for a 71 after opening with a double bogey on the par-4 first hole.

"I've had kind of a cold that just got worse," said McCarron, who is tied with Bernhard Langer for the tour victory lead with four after winning three of the previous six events. "My head's a little foggy and just didn't make a very good swing and I missed the first fairway, put myself in a really bad position. ... But no excuses. If I shoot 3 under, I win this thing. Just wasn't able to do it today. Unfortunately, just didn't put myself in position off the tee."

American Glen Day (67) was fourth at 12 under and American Kevin Sutherland (72) was another shot back in a tie with Swede Jesper Parnevik (67).

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