Birthday boy Monty eyes Royal Birkdale bow

6/23/2013 12:00:00 AM
Colin Montgomerie  (David Cannon)
Colin Montgomerie (David Cannon)
As he celebrates reaching his half century today (Sunday), Colin Montgomerie has looked ahead to making his debut in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex, from July 25-28.

The man affectionately known as “Monty”  captured 31 European Tour titles and won the Harry Vardon Trophy a record eight times, but after turning 50 his thoughts have now turned to writing a new chapter as a member of the Senior Tour, starting with next month’s showpiece event at Royal Birkdale, in Southport, England.

Montgomerie, whose name has become synonymous with The Ryder Cup after enjoying tremendous success as both player and captain, will be reunited with many familiar faces when he joins the over-50 ranks, including his great European comrades Bernhard Langer, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam; defending champion Fred Couples and 2014 US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson.

The 2010 victorious Ryder Cup captain said: “Freddie Couples won at Turnberry last year and now we return to another venue on The Open rota in Royal Birkdale. It’s great that The R&A, along with the European Senior Tour, have decided to go on some of our great links courses, and I look forward to playing at Birkdale. I’ve played there in three Opens in 1991, 1998 and 2008 when Pádraig Harrington won.

“So I’ve played three Opens there, not obviously a Senior Open Championship but it’s something I am really looking forward to. I think Rolex is a great presenting sponsor of the Senior Open, and I look forward to playing their Pro Am on the Tuesday, and the gala dinner afterwards and competing from Thursday through Sunday. And not just competing, but contending. I would love to try to contend.”

Langer was the last European winner of The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex in 2010 and, given the quality of the field he will be facing at Royal Birkdale, Montgomerie is under no illusions as to the size of the task he faces in his bid to make his Major breakthrough, having come so close on numerous occasions in the past.

The celebrated Scot said: “I’m under no illusion as to how good the standard is. My good friend Bernhard Langer is dominating Senior golf right now, and all credit to him, especially as he coming up to 56 years of age in August.  Then of course there’s Fred Couples, Kenny Perry, Tom Lehman – I could go on and on. There’s a great set of players, and they will take a bit of beating.

“But if I can come in and challenge them, I think they will enjoy that, and so will I, and hopefully all of the spectators will too. It’s about time I won a Major Championship, so let’s hope that one might just be in the offing. But if not, I will still love the competition of it.”

Montgomerie revealed he is particularly relishing the challenge of being a ‘rookie’ once again, having competed for the past few years on The European Tour against younger rivals whose prodigious length off the tee gives them a distinct advantage.

He said: “I’ve played recently with guys who are younger than my children! You say, ‘hang on a minute, this isn’t quite a level playing field’. Suddenly I’ll be the youngest, playing against guys like Bernhard who is six years older than me.

“I’ll be a rookie, and therefore hopefully in an advantageous position. I’ve been playing against guys who are 23, 24 years old and they are hitting the ball a mile, so it’s about time that parity came along!”

With the competitive fires still burning as brightly as ever, Montgomerie’s desire to extend his career past 50 has been fuelled by a hunger for more trophies.

He said: “I think the competitiveness got me to play seniors golf. I think the competition has driven me forward and kept the hunger and kept the ambition alive, because I’m not ready to stop competing just yet.

“I’ll know when it’s time to stop, because the hunger will have gone. But I’m still hungry for success, so as long as that remains the case, I’ll keep playing Senior golf.”

Golf fans hoping to see Montgomerie, Couples, Watson, Langer, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and many more of the game’s all-time greats in 2013 can take advantage of a special advance ticket offer to reserve their place at The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex, from July 25-28.
Season tickets bought before June 30 can now be purchased for just £70 – a significant saving of £10 on the gate price.

One day tickets purchased before June 30 cost £25, a saving of £5 on the gate price, while practice day tickets are also available at the reduced price of £12, a saving of £3 on the gate price. Under16s are admitted for free when accompanied by an adult and parking is also free.

Tickets can be bought online here or by calling +44 (0)800 0232557, with details of hospitality packages also available.

Royal Birkdale, which last hosted The Open Championship in 2008 when Padraig Harrington claimed his second consecutive Claret Jug, will become the 11th different course to host The Senior Open Championship. It will be only the second venue in the north west of England to host the Championship, following Royal Lytham & St Annes (1991-1994).