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Today would have, could have, should have seen Scotland play their opening match at the football World Cup in Qatar.
Of course, Ukraine put paid to those hopes back in June before Wales put paid to theirs. Either way, we’re not there. Again.
You have to go all the way back to 1998 for the last time that Scotland qualified for the FIFA World Cup. In golf, though, we’ve had things rather better in the interim.
In fact, in 2007, a team of Marc Warren and Colin Montgomerie triumphed in Shenzhen, China, and won the World Cup for Scotland.
The formidable pairing very nearly won the event the previous year in Barbados, and went to Asia in 2007 as the team to beat.
As Montgomerie told bunkered, it’s a week that lives long in his memory.
“It was fantastic,” said the eight-time European No.1. “It all came
back to the year before when we lost in a playoff to Bernhard Langer and
Marcel Siem and, the next year, we went to China. To win it on the
other side of the world was something very special for us both.
“For Scotland to do that, the small nation that we are, to go to
China and to win the World Cup in a playoff against the USA, that was
As Montgomerie admits, it wasn’t plain sailing for the Scots. A final round of 66 – an impressive feat in the tough alternate shot format – left Scotland tied at the top on 25-under-par alongside the USA.
That American team consisted of Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum, who had led all week, in the event which featured two rounds of alternate shot and two rounds of better-ball.
“The playoff, it was three holes,” Montgomerie remembered. “I made a mess of the bunker shot in the first hole of the playoff. I missed the fairway off the tee, and Marc put me in the bunker, which was a reasonable position to be in, but I didn’t catch my bunker shot right. I caught it a bit heavy.
“I left him a 20-footer and he had that to stay in the playoff. Sure enough, he holed it.
“That gave us a huge confidence boost and, although it took us another couple of holes, we got them in the end. It was superb.”
It was no surprise to the former world No. 2 that his partner got him out of jail with the putter. That, he said, is what Marc – 26-years-old at the time – had done all week.
Despite the eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner still being near the peak of his powers, he attributed Scotland’s success to his younger partner’s hot hand on the greens.
“Because it was 2007 and I was still playing well, people think I was the driving force but Marc Warren played extremely well,” he adds. “He was the strength of that team at that stage. I played okay, obviously, but he was the strength. He putted well and he drove the ball well. He was super.
“He putted extremely well that week. I needed my partner to hole out well and he did that superbly.”
Once one of the game’s most prestigious events, the future of the World Cup of Golf has been uncertain for a number of years. Indeed, it hasn’t been staged since 2018, when Belgium – represented by Thomas Detry and Thomas Pieters – held off Australia and Mexico to win in Melbourne. That was one of only six times it has taken place since Monty and Warren’s win.
Montgomerie hopes it might one day be restored to its former glory, and he’s not betting against future Scottish success.
“There are opportunities for those to emulate what we did in the next few years,” said Montgomerie.
“You look at the likes of Bob MacIntyre coming through. He’s leading a charge of new, young bright hopes that we have.
“We wish him and all the others to hopefully follow suit and we wish them all the best. Let’s just hope that Scottish golf continues on its rise.”
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