When Mito Pereira watched his PGA Championship title hopes drown in a creek to the right of the 18th fairway at Southern Hills, golf observers — as often happens in such cruel, indelible moments — looked for historical comps, or other instances of 72nd-hole major heartbreak. Dustin Johnson at Whistling Straits (grounded club). Van de Velde at Carnoustie (rolled-up pants). Mickelson at Winged Foot (fore left!).
Often forgotten in that last example is the fact that Mickelson wasn’t the only player to kick away a golden opportunity at Winged Foot. Colin Montgomerie, who famously never nabbed a major title in 75 career starts, also had an excellent chance to win.
After jarring a 75-footer for birdie on 17 that tied him for the lead and splitting the fairway with his tee shot on 18 that left him 172 yards from the stick, Montgomerie seemed destined for, at worst, a playoff. But then he hit his approach shot short and right into a gnarly, clumpy lie, from where he couldn’t chip the ball close. Three putts later, he had closed with an ugly double bogey, and at six over for the week, one stroke shy of eventual winner Geoff Ogilvy’s total.
Montgomerie is back in the field at another major this week — the KitchenAid Senior PGA, at Harbor Shores, in Michigan — and on Wednesday he was asked if he had any advice for Pereira, in terms of how the Chilean might get over his dispiriting finish at Southern Hills.
Montgomerie did. In short, he said, it was one swing. One hole. One tournament. Pereira has many other big moments ahead of him. He is 27. At Winged Foot, Monty was 42.
“A young player, younger than I was and that was one of my last opportunities,” Montgomerie said Wednesday. “It won’t be his.
“All I’ve got to say to him is be patient, and I say that to anybody coming through. Be patient. It’s a hell of a long career and just be patient with it, and take — if you can — take as many positives as possible. I know that’s a bit cliche, you take the positives and everything.
“After 71 holes, he was ahead and that’s a hell of an effort. After 72, he wasn’t, but after the first  holes to be ahead is a bloody good effort and he should try and take as much positives as possible.”
To his credit, Pereria already seemed to have at least some of that perspective. “I finished third on my first major this year,” he said that evening. “I think I have to really just hold [on] to that.”
How long Pereria might also feel the sting of not winning is another matter. Montgomerie was asked how long it took him to recover from Winged Foot.
“I’m not over that,” he said. “Never will be. Sleepless nights. Get up five times thinking about it every night.”
He was joking, but he wasn’t. In Monty’s autobiography, he described that week as “the major near-miss which can still wake me up in the middle of the night.” He added on Wednesday, “If somebody said to me, one shot left, if you want one shot again, obviously it’s that one.”
But on the flip side, Montgomerie said: “I’ve had a hell of a career. I’m very, very fortunate. I’d take nothing back. People say would you trade your money lists for a major? No. … I’ve had a great time at this, and I wouldn’t trade anything for anything. So that went pretty quickly to be honest. I got on with the next one.”
Pereria no doubt will aim to do the same, beginning this week at the Charles Schwab Challenge. He has a 12:45 p.m. starting time Thursday alongside Tom Hoge and Viktor Hovland. Back to work.