Boo and Monty make an Open odd couple

January 10, 2009

SOUTHPORT, England — Poor Mike Weir. The quiet, easy-going 2003 Masters champion must be wondering what on earth he has done wrong to upset the R&A’s British Open championship committee. The Canadian’s partners for the first two rounds at Royal Birkdale are currently golf’s greatest comedy duo, Colin Montgomerie and Boo Weekley. Golf’s odd couple.

The two cult classics have come together at Southport not just from different continents, but from different planets. Monty is the product of the finest public-school education and is the son of a Royal Troon secretary. The Legend of Boo Weekley, which sounds like a Twain tale, has grown ever more fabulous with stories of wrestling alligators on his father’s farm in the Florida panhandle, and getting punched out by an orangutan (or was it John Daly?) at a county fair.

While Monty has won eight European Tour Order of Merit titles and remains undefeated in eight Ryder Cup singles matches, Boo didn’t even know St. Andrews was the Home of Golf until the nice lady at the BBC told him at the Open last year. Seriously.

Forget Raymond, everybody loves Boo. And everybody loves Monty, too. Kinda sorta.

Monty and Boo meet at Royal Birkdale with their careers heading in opposite directions. The Scot is 81st in the world rankings and is battling the tide of rising European stars like Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer to make this year’s Ryder Cup. Boo, meanwhile, is ranked 28th and looks certain to make his Cup debut in September.

The wind on the 10th tee was blowing so hard during their first round Thursday that Boo found his ball 30 yards wide of the fairway on a spectator path. The wind then changed direction at the corner of the dogleg and Boo’s second shot with a rescue club was tossed into the right rough like a stray balloon.

Monty was in a worse pickle — 15 yards further right. He hacked an iron low under the wind onto the fairway, but his approach hit a wall of wind and dropped stone-like short of the green. Monty then scowled both at a marshal and the lad carrying the scoreboard who happened to be standing in his line of sight. Monty 3-putted for a double bogey to Boo’s bogey.

As they marched to the 11th tee like a funeral dirge, Kenny Perry must have been laughing from the comfort of his La-Z-Boy. When they reached the 13th, the giant scoreboard behind the green was completely blank. There were no names on it.

That’s right — it’s so tough out there, no one is leading the 137th British Open.

The pair was chirpy post-round, Monty because he salvaged a 3-over-par 73, Boo because … well, he’s Boo, despite his 10-over 80. Weekley’s been home looking after his newborn son and said he hadn’t played much golf.

“Monty asked me what I’d be doing back home if the weather was like this,” Boo said. “I told him I’d probably be huntin’ and fishin’.” Boo was certainly dressed for it in his trademark camouflage body warmer that resembles a full-body tattoo. “Monty’s a good guy,” Boo added, with a wink. “I know y’all sometimes have a problem with him, though.”

Boo went on. “When I came here on Sunday, the weather was so peaceful I played one of the most beautiful rounds of my life,” he said with a laugh. “But if this is your summer, I couldn’t live here.”

The mutual-admiration club continued when Monty reached the microphone. “He had his fan club, too,” Monty said, “with everyone shouting ‘Boooooo’. It was pretty miserable out there. I hit 10 balls in the pouring rain on the range. It was just a waste of time. Then on the 2nd I flushed a 3-iron 160 yards. That’s 45 yards shorter than normal. It was just guess work out there.”

On the eve of the championship, European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo warned Monty that he needs to start showing some form if he doesn’t want to miss the matches in Louisville, Kentucky. “Monty needs to full his finger out and step up,” Faldo said. “I’m sure someone of his ability will be able to find a way.”

The message was not lost on Monty. “I’m not ready to stop playing the Ryder Cup,” he said. “I want to make it nine. And if I don’t qualify for the team, then I want to show sufficient form to get in [as a captain’s pick.]”

“The golf course is tough but it’s fair,” Monty said. Then pointing to the grey skies he added, “But He’s in charge. And He messed up today.”

He was joking. Probably.

Weir, meanwhile, outscored both Monty and Boo with a cool-as-a-Canadian-stream 71. Anyone want a quote from Mr. Weir?