Montgomerie: Tiger Woods can shine at US Open - and needs to
Colin Montgomerie is tipping Tiger Woods to adapt his game and put up a strong challenge at Merion.
Last Updated: 11/06/13 10:22am
Woods hit the second-worst score of his professional career at Muirfield Village last Saturday, posting a seven-over-par tally of 79 which included taking 44 shots on the front nine, and eventually finished the tournament in 65th place.
However, Montgomerie believes the American, who will be aiming to win his first Major since the 2008 US Open and his 15th in total when he ventures to Merion, can bounce back and compete at the Pennsylvania course, which is one of the shorter venues on tour.
But the Scot says Woods, who has won the US Open on three occasions, must capture a Major in 2013 if he is to have any hope of overhauling Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.
"[Woods' third round at Muirfield] was like a number one tennis player serving a whole set of double faults, it just doesn't happen," said Montgomerie, who accrued second-place finishes at the US Open in 1994, 1997 and 2006.
"But Tiger seems to adapt very well to courses that aren't supposed to suit him. TPC Sawgrass doesn't suit him. Hoylake didn't suit him either but he used his 4-iron and won [the Open Championship in 2006], so he can adapt easier than most.
"Everyone says he's back but no-one will say he's truly back until he wins another Major; it's very difficult for him and the harder he tries the worse it is, and there is more pressure on him than ever before.
"I think if he wins one this year then Nicklaus' record could be back on again - but this year is vital and he's got to win one."
World number two Rory McIlroy already has two Majors to his name, having triumphed at the US Open at Congressional in 2011 and at the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island last August.
The Northern Irishman has suffered a dip in form this year, though, with his best result a second place at the Valero Texas Open, and he heads to Merion on the back of ending the Memorial Tournament in 57th spot.
But Montgomerie believes that "if the switch can be turned on" McIlroy has a chance of getting back in the winner's enclosure on Sunday night.
"Merion is a course that possibly doesn't suit Rory but the talent of the man means anything could happen," he said. "He could get round any course with a 3-iron and a wedge.
"There's a feeling that there's a switch that can be turned on and he goes from third gear into fifth gear and can win and, a bit like Tiger, he can adapt his game over the practice ground and to suit the environment
"I think Rory will do well as he's got something to prove.
"I think his eye was taken off the ball when he was number one in the world and everything was going swimmingly, but I think it's time that he stood up to the plate and said: 'Right Tiger, I've got to go with you here, I'm back on.'"
Montgomerie - who feels that 2010 US Open titlist Graeme McDowell will be "licking his lips" at the prospect of tackling Merion - says Sergio Garcia can expect a rough ride from the US supporters following his recent racially-tinged comments about Woods.
The Spaniard has apologised for his words, calling them "totally stupid and out of place," but Montgomerie, who skippered Garcia at the 2010 Ryder Cup, reckons there will be a big backlash from the fans in Pennsylvania.
"I think he's going to have a difficult time at the US Open so the best thing Sergio Garcia can do is play his golf and score 66 on the first day as that will silence the critics," he added.
"Sergio is prepared [for a negative reaction from the crowd] so he can plan for that and won't go: 'What the hell is that all about, I'm not ready for that!' and he has got to play golf and do his job.
"He could get booed as we're only a couple of hours from New York and it is a lively crowd. That is very sad for our game and you would feel sorry for him, but you can't because you can't condone [his comments about Woods]."
"Garcia should have won a Major by now - whether or not Carnoustie in 2007, when he had a putt at the 72nd hole to beat Padraig Harrington, was his time we don't know - and he'll be disappointed that he hasn't with the talent that he was given.
"If he does win one I think he'll go on to win more - but if he gets a top-10 this week he'll do extremely well with the scenes that will be there."