Syme Determined To Learn From Monty’s 2006 U.S. Open Meltdown

Scotland’s Connor Syme‘s watched TV coverage of Monty’s 2006 U.S. Open final hole meltdown and reckons he’s in for a ‘brutal’ debut U.S. Open this week at Winged Foot.

Syme got a first look at the host course playing a practice round Monday on the 7,477-yard, tree-line layout near Mamaroneck on New York’s Long Island, and about an hour’s drive north from Manhattan.

The Drumoig golfer is among three Scots teeing-up in the 120th staging of the U.S. Open, and with the event having been rescheduled from June to this week.

Syme and his other 143 Winged Foot contestants will also tee-up without the noisiest spectators in golf and ‘Big Apple’ fans stopped under continuing COVID-19 guidelines from making their way to the famed A W Tillinghaust-designed gem.

Fellow Scot Connor Syme determined to learn from Colin Montgomerie’s 2006 US Open final hole mishap

New Yorkers can be so obnoxious that when the 2002 U.S. Open was played on close-by Bethpage Park, a U.S. golf magazine had 25,000 badges made with the message ‘Be Nice Too Monty’ and given the tirade of abuse Colin Montgomerie endured during the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

Syme had just turned 11 years when Monty stood on the 72nd fairway at Winged Foot waiting for playing partner, Vijay Singh to get a ‘ruling’ and with the Scot all the time fighting with the indecision of hitting a 6-iron or 7-iron.

Monty, needing just a par to win a first major, went with a 7-iron only to miss the green and walk off with a double-bogey to let slip by a shot in forcing a play-off.

Syme said:  “I’m not sure how much I watched the TV coverage at the time but I think at the time the story was probably more Phil (Mickelson) taking a double bogey at the last.

“As I got older, I realised that had been a big chance for Monty as he also had a good chance to win there in ’06, so it has given me a good impression of how difficult Winged Foot is going to be.

“Also, from watching the highlights I’ve seen of past events there, it looks like a brutal golf course. It’s another step I need to make.

“I know roughly what to expect in terms of difficulty, but a major in the U.S. is going to be a new experience for me. I’ll embrace the challenge and it’s exciting as these are the stages you want to be playing on.”

For Syme, it will be just a third major in his short three-year pro career having contested both the 2017 and 2019 Open Championships. He had ended his amateur career winning the 2017 Australian Amateur and also contested the 2016 U.S. Amateur at Oakland.

Syme’s last win in the amateur ranks was capturing the 2017 Battle Trophy at Crail and on the course designed by acclaimed Gil Hanse who was brought in by Winged Foot to make some subtle changes ahead of this week’s U.S. Open.

Syme said:  “The U.S. Open is massive event and my experiences from playing the U.S. Amateur certainly got my attention in terms of how the USGA organises events.

“I’ve played in The Open a couple of times and that was incredible and I am sure this will be amazing as well. I am really looking forward to it, having watched it as a kid from Tiger (Woods) winning and then Rory (McIlroy), as well.

And while Syme recently went close to victory twice in Wales on the European Tour nothing can quite prepare you for a U.S. Open, and with Winged Foot Director of Golf Courses, Steve Rabideau predicting an eight-over victory total next Sunday afternoon.

Syme said:  “I took so much confidence from those two weeks in Wales.  It’s about getting yourself into those situations and learning from them all the time.

“I know you hear that all the time, but it is definitely true.

“Hopefully what happened there can help me when I get into that position again. I think the only time I didn’t have the lead in the second event in Wales, unfortunately, was with five holes to play, having had my first 54-hole lead the week before.

“But it’s stuff like that I can learn from going forward. The only thing that was missing in Wales, I suppose, was a win and that’s a big positive going forward.

“They were massive experiences all round that will help me hopefully this week and into the future.”

Since arriving to Long Island, Syme has managed to catch-up with fellow Scots Robert MacIntyre and ultra-talented Nairn amateur, Sandy Scott who delayed his decision to turn pro this past summer to join the Winged Foot field, and having qualified in being among the leading 10 on the amateur world rankings.

Syme said:  “It’s great for Scottish golf having the three of us tee-up this week. Bob had an incredible year last year and then did well making the cut in the US PGA in San Francisco.

“There are so many of us on an equal level at the moment. All the guys are pushing each other on. It is great for Scottish golf with the younger guys coming though.

“Hopefully we can all go on from strength to strength and that is certainly the goal. Golf might be an individual sport, but we are all friends and trying to make each other better.”

U.S OPEN WINNERS (& WINNING TOTAL) AT WINGED FOOT 

1929: Bobby Jones, six-over par
1959: Billy Casper, two-over par
1974: Hale Irwin, seven-over par
1984: Fuzzy Zoeller, four-under par
2006: Geoff Ogilvy, five-over par.



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