Colin Montgomerie’s secret to Saturday success at the Senior British Open? Jelly babies

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Colin Montgomerie knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments in inclement Scottish weather.

He also knows when it’s time to take advice from others who also know plenty about winning big golf tournaments.

On Saturday, as wet weather made for a miserable day at the Gleneagles Hotel’s Kings Course in Auchterader, Montgomerie and his caddie tried to lighten the mood by chatting with Padraig Harrington about, of all things, candy.

“We were talking to Pádraig Harrington about jelly babies, actually, and we decided to eat jelly babies on the back nine, the best food for everything, apparently,” Montgomerie said. “I thought, oh, he’s won a few majors so we thought we would do the jelly baby trick today.”

The move paid dividends. Montgomerie finished with birdies on his final three holes of the day and while others struggled to deal with the wet conditions, his 68 pulled him within striking distance of the leaders heading into the final day. He’s at 6 under for the tournament, three shots behind leader Paul Broadhurst and two behind Jerry Kelly, Steven Alker and Darren Clarke.

The only problem the Saturday magic created was a need for more candy.

“Wow, the jelly babies worked. So we’re into Auchterarder and come into Auchterarder to buy a load of jelly babies to keep us going for tomorrow because the weather is going to be iffy tomorrow. So we’ll see how we go,” he said. “I said at the start of the week, I wanted to contend and not just compete. And now, we’re beginning to think we’re contending, you know. So we’ll see how we go.”

Montgomerie —who confirmed to reporters that he had a brief stay in a local hospital on Thursday, but didn’t elaborate on the reason — insisted he didn’t do much differently on the final few holes, aside from getting his putter rolling. And he said last week’s championship performance by Cameron Smith on the greens at St. Andrews should shed light on the strategy for success this week.

“The putter … that’s all it is, isn’t it? Hit it to 20-foot at 16th and holed it, 15-foot at 17th and holed it, and a good putt there at the last. It broke a mile. It broke a good 8-footer at the last,” he said. “But you know, you miss these, you shoot 71. You hole them, and you shoot 68. How often do we say this? How often do we say we’re going to hit the ball — everyone out here can hit the ball. Everyone can stand on the range and hit the ball. But it’s all about what happens on the greens.

“And look who won last week, the best putter in the world probably right now, Cam Smith. And who won The Open? THE best putter. That’s what it’s about. If I can hole putts tomorrow, if I can get the damn thing in the hole tomorrow, there’s a chance. You never know.”