He is known as the best golfer never to win a Major. Triumphant on the European Tour, season after season. Unbeatable in the Ryder Cup. And yet, not a single Major title to his name.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Montgomerie, explains that the reason he was not successful in golf’s ultimate tests, was that he approached them in a perfectionist frame of mind. That he needed to play perfect golf. As the Majors were the true measure of a player, Montgomerie presumed that he would need to be playing at his highest level, to match the accomplishments of the games greats.
It’s an interesting admission. And it’s not a surprising one. For when a golfer puts themselves under pressure, to play perfect golf, they will almost certainly under perform. You are not able to relax and let your game flow, as you demand more of more from yourself.
You may enter the event, for example, where your game is at an 8/10. Now it may be that 8/10 would be good enough to win a Major. But if you feel that you should be playing at 10/10, then you will become frustrated with yourself. You feel that you should be playing better. Even though you are playing as well as you can.
To be able to recognise that 8/10 may be good enough to win a major, takes wisdom and acceptance. Acceptance of your faults. Acceptance that you don’t need to be perfect. It means that you can feel comfortable with your game, which will allow you to make good decisions, and think clearly under pressure.
Now that he knows that he doesn’t have to be perfect, its quite possible that Colin Montgomerie could still win a Major. But it’s one thing to know it. Quite another to put this mental discipline into practise, after years of demand and perfectionism.