Monty relative speaks out

Players Championship preview

Bob Warters's picture
Thu, 21 Mar 2002

Despite a request not to talk to the media about the heckling that has plagued Colin Montgomerie’s career, the Scot’s brother-in-law has finally spoken out about the treatment the Scot has received by some sections of the US gallery and media.

And as Monty steps out around mid-day today (7am in Florida), in the Players Championship at Sawgrass, Simon Coulls, whose wife Kate is the sister of Monty’s wife Eimear, asks why should he have to ignore it.

He told Florida’s website, he has witnessed the taunts first hand and said anyone would react the same way.

Two years ago at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Coulls said he heard one spectator repeatedly badgering Montgomerie, calling him ‘tuna belly.’ The man was thrown out after Montgomerie pointed him out to security guards.

"After a while you can’t ignore it," Coulls said, " you have to take things into your own hands. Imagine if you were walking down the street and somebody called you that 30, 40 times."

Coulls, general manager at The Club at TwinEagles in North Naples, Florida, first met Montgomerie and his family when he was an assistant pro at Turnberry Golf Links in Ayrshire.

The 38-year-old Englishman said Monty has always asked him not to speak with the media about the runs-in with spectators, but he’s tired of witnessing boorish behaviour in a sport where decency, decorum and respect are guiding principles.

"A spectator is there to observe good golf, not to distract a player or make comments about a player’s shot, especially if it’s not a good one.

"For anybody to say that it’s acceptable because society changes, is wrong," said Coulls, taking particular exception with what he said were similar comments by senior members of the golf media.

"Golf is not like other sports. It’s gentleman’s and a ladies game. It’s not for everyone to hoot and holler about whatever they want. It’s totally uncalled for and it’s not right. If it was a member of my club, I’d first reprimand them and the second time expel them."

Coulls knows Montgomerie’s often dour demeanour makes him a target for spectators.

"He can be disgruntled with the way he plays golf; he can have a scowl on his face. That’s a reflection of his own desire to be the best player in the world. That’s not a reflection on the crowd."

Coulls thinks a breakthrough victory on US soil would end the isolated taunts.

"I hope he wins at the TPC and Augusta. It would take a huge amount of weight off his shoulders, to do well," Coulls said. "He’s had his chances, and he hasn’t been able to put closure to it, for whatever reasons. But neither have a lot of other players."

Even if he doesn’t, there’s no place in golf for behaviour that’s any less than respectful, he says.

"He continues to be a gentleman and an ambassador for the game of golf, and he continues to be one of the best players in the world. He should be given his due for all that he’s done in the sport."

Tiger Woods starts as a hot favourite at 3-1 with Monty 66-1 alongside the likes of John Daly. Ernie Els (13-1), Phil mickelson (15-1) and David Duval and Sergio Garcia (17-1) are rated the nearest challengers.

Vijay Singh(second last year) and Jose Maria Olazabal look under-priced at 25-1, as does Bernhard Langer, third here last year, at 80-1.

Kenny Perry with opening rounds of 71 and 66 in 2001 could be a good each-way fancy at 50-1 and the same can be said of the gritty Swedes Niclas Fasth and Per-Ulrick Johansson (100-1).



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