Colin Montgomerie has the bit between his teeth once more – and the history making golfer says he is determined to carry on enjoying the taste of success by challenging for The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.
Having become the most prolific British winner in European Tour history on Sunday when he claimed his 31st Tour victory at the Smurfit Kappa European Open, the rejuvenated Scot is keen to maintain his form over the next fortnight.
For his success in Ireland came at exactly the right time for Montgomerie – immediately before a return to his native Scotland for The Barclays Scottish Open, and The Open Championship at Carnoustie next week.
Montgomerie admits he is full of confidence and ready to challenge for both prestigious titles – starting with The Barclays Scottish Open, which gets underway on Thursday.
Speaking at Loch Lomond, where he won the Scottish Open crown in 1999, Montgomerie said: “I always take these two weeks as the biggest of the year when the Open is in Scotland, so the next eight rounds of golf are important to me. I always look forward to them. Never more so than coming off the back of a win.
“I approach this Scottish Open as an event that stands on its own two feet and that’s why I’m here – to try and win this. I know now that if I can do well here and win, I’ll top the Order of Merit again.
“It’s a challenge itself, this tournament. It’s nice to come back to a place you’ve won at before. I know I’m playing well, I’m swinging the club well and the putting came back a little bit last week, so we’ll go out there full of hope and see what happens.
“It’s a stronger field obviously this week, but that doesn’t seem to affect the winning score surprisingly enough, so we’ll see how it goes."
Montgomerie’s victory at The K Club ended one of the most turbulent periods of his career, having endured the longest winless streak in his 20 years as a professional – as well as seeing his partnership with long term caddie, Alastair McLean, come to an end in the build up to the 2007 US Open Championship.
He reflected: “The timing of the loss of Alastair was never a good time for that to happen. Unfortunately it happened a week before a Major. That didn’t help. Having to borrow a caddie wasn’t the right preparation.
“Believe it or not, I was actually hitting the ball okay. It was beginning to come back, so although I was disillusioned at missing the cut, I was not disillusioned with my game.”
While many people may have written Montgomerie off, the Scotsman began plotting another auspicious chapter in his remarkable career, tieing for third place at the Open de France ALSTOM, before winning in Ireland, both results occurring since the recruitment of new caddie, Craig Connelly.
Montgomerie said: “It’s amazing to have that success, to have a third and first in the last two weeks. Craig’s very enthusiastic, wanting success as much as I do. I look forward to continuing with him. It’s been a great start – and we’ll see if we can do even better this week.”
The 44 year old also feels his natural approach to the game, as opposed to an overly technical one, has helped him recover from poor spells in the past, and has again recently, to leave him poised to pursue further glory.
With that renewed optimism and support of the local galleries – “there is genuine warmth from them to me” - Montgomerie is ready to tackle the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, before turning his attention to Carnoustie.
“It’s nice to be the leading Scottish player coming into these events in my era, and it’s a very proud time for me to go to these special venues,” he said.
“I come here full of confidence and I’m looking forward to competing and challenging again. In 1999, I won here, and then went on to Carnoustie, and a Scot won. All credit to Paul Lawrie for winning that one.
“It’s amazing that’s the last European to have won a Major Championship – but let’s hope that changes over the next 12 days. I’m certainly thinking, ‘okay, we’ll try to break this duck.’
“It’s nice – a personal treat for me – to go to Carnoustie, not just as a wild-card as I was three weeks ago; but as a probable contender now.”