Monty gets back in the groove

COLIN MONTGOMERIE was happy to have rediscovered his form and rebuilt his confidence with second place behind Sweden’s Mathias Gronberg in the Italian Open.

The Scot had an eight-week spell in America in which he failed to break 70 in 14 rounds, missed the cut in five of his six strokeplay events and lost in the first round of the World Matchplay.

The former European number one picked up a new set of cavity-back clubs from sponsors Hogan on his return from the US Masters, where rounds of 78 and 76 added up to his second-worst display in 46 major championships.

The 39-year-old immediately put them to good use with a 62 in the pre-tournament pro-am and added rounds of 70, 67, 71 and 65 for easily his best finish of the season.

"I lost my confidence in America for two months; I wasn't supposed to play here but I wanted to get some confidence -and I've done that.

"The last four holes especially were good. I missed the green on the 15th and chipped in for birdie, made birdie on 16 and 17 and then got up and down from the bunker on the last to save par. I feel as if I'm back. I feel comfortable in Europe; the family is here and I feel respected as well, which is nice.

"The start to Saturday's round cost me. I three-putted the first and missed from inside eight feet for the next five holes. To win you have to hole half of them at least, and I didn't do that. But a 65 yesterday has given me a lot of confidence, going into the big three tournaments coming up," he said.

Meanwhile American Steve Flesch earned his first career PGA win, making a 30-foot birdie putt, on the most difficult closing hole on the tour, to defeat Bob Estes in a playoff at the $5m HP Classic.

""It's funny, I knew yesterday I was going to have a chance. Even though I was seven shots back," he said.

A two-time runner-up in New Orleans, who was playing in his 174th PGA Tour event, Flesch earned the clubhouse lead at 21-under-par 267 with a bogey-free 7-under 65 on Sunday that included a six-foot par save at the 18th.

"I play well here every year and even though I was seven back, when I came out this morning that wind was blowing 15, 20 miles an hour, I knew I had a chance," said Flesch.

After waiting on the practice range while regulation finished, Flesch put his approach shot on the first hole of sudden death seven feet behind Estes', but he rolled in the birdie, one of only three on the day at the 18th hole.

Including three birdies and two pars at the 471-yard, par-4 18th, Flesch played his last 56 holes at the English Turn Golf and Country Club without a bogey.

When Estes missed his birdie try, Flesch had his first PGA victory. He became the only lefthander to win an event on the PGA Tour.

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