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Breakfast with Monty

International TravelToshiba CorporationPhil MickelsonTiger WoodsRyder Cup

It's easy for Colin Montgomerie to remember his first event on the PGA European Tour — and not because of some fabulous highlight. His mind actually goes to a rare embarrassing moment.

His golf clubs went missing. They were shipped elsewhere after his flight to Switzerland for the Swiss Open. The World Golf Hall of Fame member also made the rookie mistake of packing his golf shoes with his clubs.

"Switzerland is not really a golfer place," Montgomerie said during the Toshiba Classic's annual Breakfast With a Champion on Tuesday morning at the Balboa Bay Resort. "I realized my shoes were very important. I'm a size 12 and they are not as big of people in Switzerland.

"I missed the cut. I flew home thinking this is the biggest error I ever made. The trip cost me 4,000 pounds, $7,000. To lose your clubs on the first trip, that's unlucky."

Montgomerie's shaky start was hardly a sign of things to come, since he went on to become one of the best golfers of all time on the European Tour. He reflected on his record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles, including a streak of seven straight from 1993 to 1999.

Montgomerie also displayed charm and humor during his interview with Toshiba Classic Chairman Emeritus Hank Adler.

It's to be expected from a man whose autobiography is titled "The Full Monty."

When he talked about his marriage to Gaynor Knowles, he explained he came in with three children from his first marriage and she had four of her own.

"We beat the Brady Bunch," said the Scotland-born Montgomerie, referring to the blended TV family. "They were only six.

"That can be expensive. That's exactly why I'm here. To win. I need it."

Adler saved his best questions for last, asking Montgomerie to speak about his Ryder Cup brilliance, which included his unbeaten record in singles matches.

Montgomerie talked about playing with Padraig Harrington and going up against Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in 2004, when the two U.S. golfers were No. 1 and 2 in the world.

Montgomerie said he noticed just from walking together to each tee that Woods and Mickelson were "not the best of pals."

He told Harrington they needed to play as a team and they would have a chance.

"We were six under after eight [holes]," said Montgomerie, who was hot with his putter. "But we were still only two up."

Then while walking to the next hole, Montgomerie said Mickelson asked to see Montgomerie's putter.

"I said, 'Why,'" Montgomerie recalled. "He says, 'Because I want to break it.' I think he meant it."

Montgomerie and Harrington went on to win, and Montgomerie called it a "massive momentum swing" as the Euros captured the Ryder Cup.

In addition to Montgomerie's interview, Adler was one of a few moderators who spoke about the 20th anniversary of the Toshiba Classic.

Atsutoshi Nishida, Toshiba's chairman, was honored with a key to the city by Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill.

Nishida announced a new three-year contract that keeps the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.

Charity was also emphasized throughout the breakfast, The Champions Tour event has raised more than $17 million for Hoag Hospital. This year, the main beneficiary will be the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag.

Jeffrey Zach of Laguna Hills High and Rui Jing Jiang of Northwood High in Irvine were honored at the breakfast, each receiving a $10,000 scholarship from the Toshiba Classic Scholarship Fund.

The Toshiba Classic continues Wednesday and Thursday with Classic Pro-Am play. The three-day tournament begins Friday at the Newport Beach Country Club.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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