A reinvigorated Colin Montgomerie arrives in his native land for The Barclays Scottish Open as the most successful British player in European Tour history after collecting his 31st Tour title last week.
The 44 year old Scotsman secured his first victory since December 2005 at the Smurfit Kappa European Open to surpass Nick Faldo’s tally of 30 victories, and he will be hoping to add to his 31 tournament haul in his homeland over the next fortnight, starting at the stunning Loch Lomond Golf Club on Thursday before moving to the The Open Championship at Carnoustie the following week.
As an eight time Order of Merit winner, Montgomerie is acutely aware of golfing history and his place in so many of The European Tour’s record books. He said: “Nick had won 30 tournaments and so had I, and it is nice to go one ahead of him. It means a lot to me.
“He’s someone I respect greatly and have done for many, many years, so it gives me added confidence going to Loch Lomond and then Carnoustie. I am back to where I used to play, in contention again and I look forward to doing that again this week at Loch Lomond.”
Montgomerie is seeking his second Scottish Open victory, after his first success in 1999, when, ironically, the Open Championship also immediately followed at Carnoustie. If he should achieve another win, he will match South Africa Ernie Els (2000/2003) as a double Scottish Open champion at Loch Lomond.
However, to do so, Montgomerie has to overcome a world class field including seven of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Ranking; Number Three Phil Mickelson of the United States, Number Five Els, Number Nine Luke Donald of England, South Africa's Retief Goosen (11), Spain's Sergio Garcia (12), Argentina's Angel Cabrera (18) and Trevor Immelman of South Africa (19).
The stunning Scottish golf course will also host seven of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup Team, and 19 of the 32 winners on The European Tour this season, all seeking to capture the crown held by Sweden’s defending champion Johan Edfors, who is bidding to become the first player to successfully retain the prestigious title after winning by two shots 12 months ago.
And Els is another keen to build form and bag a third victory as the perfect boost before he turns his attentions to The Open Championship at Carnoustie next week.
Els said: “Each year my family and I really look forward to returning to The Barclays Scottish Open.
“The golf course is fabulous and we always have a wonderful week. As a past champion, the tournament holds special memories for me and I hope to be in contention for the title again.”
Additionally, Donald and Garcia, The 2006 European Ryder Cup Team’s most potent foursomes partnership with two wins out of two at The K Club, will be competing as rivals at The Barclays Scottish Open with five other members from that record-equalling side – Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, José Maria Olazábal and Lee Westwood.
New US Open Champion Cabrera is joined by Els, Goosen, Paul Lawrie, Tom Lehman, Sandy Lyle, Mickelson, Shaun Micheel, Olazábal and Ian Woosnam as the ten Major winners competing at Loch Lomond.
Along with Edfors, Els and Montgomerie, there are five other respective former winners since 1996 in the field – Thomas Björn, Goosen, Thomas Levet, Lehman and Westwood.
The Barclays Scottish Open will also mark the first appearance on European soil as a professional for Spain’s Pablo Martin on The European Tour.
The 21 year old took the golfing world by storm in March by becoming the first amateur player in European Tour history to win a full Tour event at the Estoril Open de Portugal in March.
He has since left the amateur ranks, and was tied 17th at The US Open Championship, but Richie Ramsay, Kevin McAlpine and Drew Weaver will all be hoping they can emulate Martin by capturing a Tour title as amateurs when they tee it up at Loch Lomond.