Peter Higgs catches up with Monty's temporary Oakmont caddy, Billy Goddard, who reminds us why there is only one Monty!
The veteran caddie, hired to carry Montgomerie’s clubs after the 43-year-old Ryder Cup star sacked long-term bagman Alistair McLean last week, tried to find a kind word to say about his temporary employer.Poor lad, having to hear those awful "lay up" words! No one should have to hear such vile language on a golf course, especially from their caddie.
"He’s a good guy but he just gets mad at himself," said Goddard. "And he got mad at me, absolutely."
On the course where he came close to winning the US Open 13 years ago — and 12 months after he blew his best chance of claiming America’s oldest major — Montgomerie’s second-round score of 12-overpar 82 left him languishing in 127th place and facing an early flight home.
After his round Montgomerie declined to offer an explanation to reporters. But Goddard, the genial local man who had been assigned to carry his bag and guide him around the brutal course, had plenty to say about spending two rounds in the presence of a player renowned as much for his grumpiness as for his undoubted golfing talents.
Even though Goddard is so valued that he has caddied for Jack Nicklaus, he was to learn that Montgomerie can be easily upset by what seem innocuous comments.
After a first-round 76 left him with plenty of ground to make up, Montgomerie was unable to cope with the increasingly difficult demands of Oakmont’s penal rough and slick greens as he tossed shots away like a high handicapper having a bad day.
Montgomerie was so distressed by an incident during the front nine of his second round that he walked over to speak to his girlfriend, Gaynor Knowles, on the 10th fairway and was overheard to say: "It’s such a shame. It’s really upset me. It really, really has."
When Goddard was asked whether he knew what had caused Montgomerie to become so agitated, he admitted being responsible, saying: "On the fourth hole he asked me what the yardage was and I said: 'Lay up or go for it?'. He said: 'I’m going for it'. After he made a bogey on the hole, he said to me: 'You should never have said the words lay up'. After that we hardly talked. That was the first taste I had of his reputation."
Although Montgomerie rallied to play the next four holes in one under par, including an extraordinary 30-foot birdie putt on the 14th which brought no reaction from the dejected figure, his chances of breaking 80 disappeared with three further dropped shots on the final two holes.
On the 18th his drive landed in such thick rough that he could not see the ball and hacked it only 10 yards forward.
When he launched his third towards the green, a youth yelled ‘Get in the hole’ to be greeted by the coldest stare Montgomerie could muster. As the object of his anger was identified, the spectator turned to the rest of crowd and appealed: ‘I was only trying to encourage him.’
Oh but why?