Colin Montgomerie and Scott McCarron among PGA TOUR Champions stars at Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship

The Mountain Course at Bear Mountain Resort is host to this week’s Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship on the PGA TOUR Champions.

Colin Montgomerie, coming off a victory at the inaugural Japan Airlines Championship, returns to defend his title this week at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, played on the Mountain Course at the Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Although Montgomerie will be a favorite today on the Jack Nicklaus and Steve Nicklaus co-design, the list of contenders wrestling to tame the bear could be a long one.

One should be Scott McCarron, a four-time winner this season, including the Senior Players Championship—a senior major. A strong week by Montgomerie and McCarron could serve as a sequel of the 2016 event at Bear Mountain.

Last year, Montgomerie made a 15-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole in the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship to defeat McCarron, who made bogey on the 18th hole in the final round to fall into the playoff. Montgomerie started the final round three strokes behind McCarron before birdies on three of the first four holes cut the deficit to one shot. Montgomerie closed with a 67 for a 15-under-par 198 total, while McCarron shot a final-round 70.

Although the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship will not be televised by the PGA TOUR Champions’ broadcast partners at Golf Channel, fans can follow the action on pgatour.com or on social media via the PGA TOUR Champions and Pacific Links Championship platforms.

The defending champion started his 2017 campaign a bit shaky, with his lowest point in three full seasons on the PGA TOUR Champions coming in July at the U.S. Senior Open. He finished 19 shots behind winner Kenny Perry to land 46th in the Schwab Cup standings, the lowest mark of his career.

Montgomerie has since moved from 46th to eighth in just seven starts—finishing in the top-seven four times. He’s arguably the hottest player on PGA TOUR Champions not named Scott McCarron, whom Montgomerie overtook in the final round in Tokyo last week to secure his fifth career PGA TOUR Champions title.

How impressive has McCarron’s year been? Along with his four victories, including one major, he has had three runner-up finishes and 10 top-10s.

“It’s been a good year and it was a good year last year, second [in the Schwab Cup] going into the last event. I’m playing well, playing solid, and I’m trying to track down my idol, Bernhard Langer,” McCarron said. “He’s a real tough guy to catch. He puts a lot of work into it.

“I’ve watched him a lot, and played with him a lot and he’s been an inspiration for me to see what I need to do to be at the top. I’ve worked real hard to get on the PGA TOUR Champions, to get ready for it. The guys at the top put in the most work.”

In Tokyo, McCarron led after two rounds, but in the final round he faltered right out of the gate with a double bogey on the first hole. That’s when Montgomerie saw his chance.

“I started three behind, I needed minimum 66 I thought,” Montgomerie said. “And then when the leader double bogeys the first hole, it brings everybody back. So that 66 suddenly became 67, 68, you know? So yes, it gave everybody a lift because Scott has been playing superb golf, and for him to double bogey the first hole… It was a shock to everybody. And then you think, OK, well, yeah, there are opportunities here.”

Unfortunately for Montgomerie, he didn’t look ready to win. His start wasn’t much better than McCarron’s—he was 1 over after seven holes in the final round, and that included both par-5s on the front nine.

Then Montgomerie’s putter caught fire. He rolled in 115 feet worth of putts in his five back-nine birdies, including a 60-footer on No. 13, en route to a 31. It allowed him to hold off McCarron and Billy Mayfair by a stroke.

With last year’s Montgomerie-McCarron playoff at Bear Mountain, and last week’s duel between the two at the Japan Airlines Championship, history would favor Montgomerie to come out on top. But McCarron feels comfortable on the Nicklaus-designed layout.

“Really good memories — I love being up here. The golf course was in great shape last year. I love being in the mountains and, for me, it’s almost like being home,” said McCarron, whose mother, Gloria, resides in Kaslo, British Columbia.

In total, 81 players will compete for the title throughout 54 holes of championship play from Friday through Sunday with no cut. This week’s winner will receive a $270,000 share of a $1.8 million purse.

Located on southern Vancouver Island—a region known for its year-round golf climate, stellar fishing, and great food—Bear Mountain Resort offers two outstanding golf courses that represent Canada’s only 36-hole Nicklaus Design golf experience. The Mountain Course, a Jack and Steve Nicklaus co-design, features impressive landscape and dramatic terrain, as well as breathtaking 180-degree views of nearby Victoria, the Pacific Ocean, and the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. The course, a par 70 playing at 6,900 yards, sits atop a 1,100-foot mountain.

In 2016, the World Golf Awards recognized Bear Mountain Resort as the No. 1 golf hotel in Canada. The course has also been a mainstay on Golfweek’s Best Canadian Modern courses for the past five years.

More than a resort and an incredible community, Bear Mountain is also home to Golf Canada’s National Development team, and the high-performance training centre of Canada’s National Mountain Bike team. Construction of western Canada’s largest indoor/outdoor clay court tennis facility supported by Tennis Canada and Tennis BC is underway.