COLIN Montgomerie’s best performance for four seasons on the European Tour followed a first lesson from Capital coach Colin Brooks.
The eight-time European Tour No. 1 returned to form by tying for sixth spot behind Paul Lawrie in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Sunday.
After a third-round 69, he admitted feeling more encouraged than he has for a long time on a golf course, saying: “That was the best golf I’ve played in a number of years.”
The Evening News can reveal that part of the credit for Monty’s performance in Perthshire should go to Brooks, who is based at the Braid Hills Golf Centre. He worked with the 2010 Ryder Cup captain for the first time the week before the Gleneagles event and was delighted to see his input produce an instant result.
“Colin contacted me,” said Brooks. “That was in July but, due to me being on holiday and him having some business commitments, we didn’t get together until the week before Gleneagles.”
It wasn’t the first time their paths had crossed. Far from it, in fact. Brooks, a Glencorse member at the time, preceded Monty, the 1987 winner, as the Scottish Amateur champion and they played foursomes together for their country.
“Apart from saying ‘hello’ a couple of times over the years we’d never really had a chance to catch up so at first we just chatted,” added Brooks.
“I knew Colin’s game well from our amateur days and for a long time it hadn’t really changed all that much, to be honest. However, I felt that recently he had started to move away from the swing that had made him so successful.
“It had two or three things that were maybe unconventional, but they worked as he was the premier ball-striker in Europe for a long time.
“It was a case of trying to get him back to what he used to do and I suggested a few things that he seemed to like.
“This wasn’t a case of trying to reinvent the wheel. It was about trying to get him back to what he used to do very well and the feedback I got straight away was good.”
Following their initial session, Brooks then spent half an hour with Monty on the range at Gleneagles before his first round last Thursday.
What followed over the next four days proved every bit as satisfying for the coach as it undoubtedly did for the pupil.
“It was a dream start,” admitted Brooks, a two-time Northern Open champion who had a brief spell on the European Tour before launching his coaching career.
“He had his best finish in four years so something must have worked for him. One of the things I said was that he should look back at some of his good memories and, let’s face it, he has an abundance of them.
“Coming down the stretch at Gleneagles, he looked like the old Monty and his stats proved very interesting reading indeed.
“He was first in fairways hit and sixth in greens hit – they used to be his strengths.
“You don’t always get that instant wham-bam. Sometimes it can take a few months to see someone making progress.”
Brooks has worked with Lloyd Saltman for a number of years and also looks after a crop of amateur aces, including Brian Soutar, the South African Amateur title-holder, and Scottish Boys’ champion Craig Howie.
“It is now up to Colin how much he wants to work with me, but he is a very independent guy and not someone you need to stand over all the time,” he said. “Two things that excited me straight away when he first got in touch, though, were that he’s injury-free and is still very ambitious at the age of 49.
“He still has his eyes on one more European Tour victory – he certainly wasn’t playing for second place at Gleneagles.”