2005: Big breakthrough for ‘Little Nick’
The official records will read that Nick Dougherty captured his first PGA European Tour event on Sunday, Jan. 30.
But for all intents and purposes, Dougherty, 22, took care of business two days earlier in the Caltex Masters when he wrested the lead from Colin Montgomerie.
Dougherty started the second round three shots behind Montgomerie, and slipped to five shots back after his first nine (he played the back nine of the Laguna National Golf & Country Club first). But on his second nine, Dougherty came home in 30, and was one shot ahead of Montgomerie going into
Montgomerie missed a 4-footer for birdie on his final hole of the day to surrender the lead. Dougherty, known as “Little Nick” after being taken under Nick Faldo’s wing, led the rest of the tournament and won
by five shots.
“I’m still a little shell-shocked, but it’s picture-perfect, I suppose,” said the former Walker Cup player who shot 18-under 270 to beat Maarten Lafeber of the Netherlands (13 under), Montgomerie (13 under) and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn (11 under).
Dougherty played consistently all week, but he received a bit of good fortune when things got close Sunday. Montgomerie had cut the lead to one shot after 15 holes, and looked to be in good position after Dougherty found the fairway bunker with his drive on No. 16. Montgomerie’s tee shot was down the center, but then Dougherty caught a break.
His ball went through the sand and came to rest in the grass in front of large wooden planks in the bunker. Because his ball was in the grass and not in the sand, Dougherty was given a free drop (ground under repair) and promptly hit his approach shot 3 feet from the hole. He made the putt for birdie, and Montgomerie three-putted for bogey 5.
“The ruling was the turning point,” Montgomerie said. “I was one behind and in the middle of the fairway and he is in the bunker left, up the face of the bunker.
“Next minute you know, he’s 3 feet away.”
– Staff and wire reports