Colin Montgomerie's Excellent Adventure

Saturday November 22nd, 2014
From sea to shining sea, and Route 66 to I-95, Colin Montgomerie is seeing America in a whole new light.
Keith Witmer

Colin Montgomerie at large. He's roaming the Lower 48 in "hire cars" from Avis, Hertz, National. This may surprise you: He's not fussy. The Scotsman with the Oxbridge accent has been driving our country since he turned 50 last year and started playing any senior event with decent parking. And he likes it, being the king of our roads. Newport Beach, Calif., to Biloxi, Miss.? Road trip, baby!

"We stopped in Las Vegas," Monty said. He often flies solo, but this trip was with his better half, wife Gaynor. "Neither of us had been there before. The lights! Absolutely brilliant."

There's been long-haul trucking. Alabama to Michigan. The Garden State to the Tar Heel State. Naples to Houston. His caddie, Alastair McLean, flies. Monty listens to history books and Coldplay. If he's on his own, the Scot does not make hotel reservations. He finds digs wherever the wind takes him.

"I like that one chain -- Hampshire Inn?"

Hampton Inn?

"That's it! Walk in, give the girl $100, she gives you a bed."

Cash money?

"Yes, yes. Cash money. I don't like giving out information everywhere I go."

Now and again, sometimes more, he is recognized. Our countrymen hear the accent and note that the gentleman is not from these here parts.

""Yes, I am from Scotland," I will say. Sometimes the facial response, it's rather vague."

England we know. But what's up with this Scotland?

"Or they tell me they like my accent. And I'll say, "I like yours." And they'll say, "I don't have an accent." And I will say, "Yes, yes, you do -- and it's lovely!""

An African-American woman asked the strikingly white man -- skin, hair, teeth -- standing before her what he did.

"I am a golfer," Monty announced.

"Really? Do you know Tiger Woods?"

"As a matter of fact I do."

"Really?!"

And because Colin Montgomerie is an actual living, breathing human being who enjoys people, he kept going.

"In point of fact, I have played in tournaments with Tiger Woods, and I have beaten Tiger Woods."

"Noooooo!"

"Yes!"

And he has. Most notably at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, when Tiger missed the cut and Monty shared runner-up honors. For a while there, Monty mastered finishing second in our national championship, a period during which his relationship with U.S. galleries was not always out of the United Nations handbook.

"Had you embraced America and Americans more then, could the results have been different?" he was asked.

"Yes, I'll be honest, they could have been," Monty said. "But I was a little too tightly wound then. Now I'm the happiest I've ever been." Bean.

There are, really, three senior majors: the Senior PGA Championship, the U.S. Senior Open and the British Senior Open. Monty went one, one, two in those events this year, then killed it in the broadcast booth at Gleneagles, 15 kilometers from his Scottish home.

He can fly, our Monty, but he prefers to drive. He prefers to be in control. Golfers are like that. He was driving by a BMW plant in Spartanburg, S.C., and decided to have a look. He was driving by the Grand Canyon and decided to have a look. He was driving by the Lincoln Memorial and decided to have a look. He was driving by a Krispy Kreme and decided to have a. . .

"Glazed original," he said.

He is a latter-day Alistair Cooke, observing all in his adopted country.

He has not been to the Met, the New York art museum -- "not yet!" -- but he has been to a Cheesecake Factory. "I've never seen such portions," he said. "But everything is bigger in the United States."

He still proudly flies the flag of Britain, and uses the terms of his youth: hire car, glove box, windscreen, boot. He plays the world, but more here than anywhere else. "I will come through passport control, and they'll see the stamps for Dubai and Abu Dhabi and look me over, and I will say, "There are golf tournaments there, and bloody good ones.""

Chiefly, these days, he's playing the U.S. and driving the U.S. That's Monty's parking space, right there between Larry Mize's and Gil Morgan's.

At a senior event in North Carolina, recently, a fan asked Monty to pose with a cutout of kid-lit hero Flat Stanley.

"Flat Stanley and Round Colin," Monty said as a phone camera clicked.

There must be a million Flat Stanleys traveling the country by air, courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service. Our guest does not. That Monty look-alike you saw at your Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru? Actually, it might have been him.

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