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How Ilkley pro Bill Ferguson helped Colin Montgomerie get a grip
What springs to mind when someone mentions Colin Montgomerie?
The best player never to win a major but who won eight European Order of Merits, including seven in a row.
A fantastic Ryder Cup man who was on the winning team five times in eight attempts as a player and was undefeated in singles before being a victorious captain at soggy Celtic Manor in 2010.
A competitor who was at his combustible best in front of unforgiving and boorish American crowds, someone who has been married twice and whose formative golfing years were spent under Bill Ferguson at Ilkley.
Monty The Autobiography, which has now been produced in paperback and updated to include a question-and-answer session regarding his most recent decisions and achievements, is an easy read.
But don’t start the book expecting to glean any tittle tattle about his divorce.
“The circumstances are private and shall remain so,” says Monty of his first wife Eimear.
Instead let us go back even further to Ilkley Golf Club, where his father James was men’s captain in 1979 and his mother Elizabeth ladies’ captain in 1980.
Leeds United fan Monty continues: “It was at Ilkley that I had my first lesson from Bill Ferguson, a magnificent club professional of the old school.
“His first observation – and I can remember him saying it to this day – was that my grip was ‘very strong’. Like every other child of my age, I had discovered that a strong grip was the key to hitting it further.”
Monty also recalls how excellent sport was at Ghyll Royd Prep School in Ilkley. He was a good reader of the game from centre half at hockey and was talented enough at cricket to get to the fringe of the Yorkshire under-18 team, even bowling to Geoff Boycott in the nets, and also batting against Chris Old in the indoor nets at Headingley.
While he calls captaining the European Ryder Cup team the greatest honour in his career, there is no doubt that the greatest disappointment was not winning the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot. “It really does hurt,” says Monty.
* Monty The Autobiography (paperback £9.99, 288 pages, Orion Books, eBook £5.99)
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