"New boy" Montgomerie primed for Senior Open adventure

7/24/2013 6:00:00 PM
Colin Montgomerie   (Getty Images)
Colin Montgomerie (Getty Images)

Colin Montgomerie said he felt like the new boy on the block ahead of his debut in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

Montgomerie, who turned 50 last month, finished tied ninth in his senior debut at the Senior Players Championship, tied 30th in the subsequent US Senior Open and this week goes in search of the Senior version of the Claret Jug on the north west coast of England.

The Scot, in fine form at Birkdale ahead of the 27th edition of the Senior Open, said he felt a new and inspiring lease of life since joining the Senior ranks.

“I felt brand new in Pittsburgh at 50 years old and that is very strange,” said Montgomerie, who will play the first two rounds at Birkdale alongside defending champion Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara.

“But I’m glad that I played the two in America before here.  This is the most important and biggest event of the year for a British over 50s player.  The two events in America helped to get rid of those butterflies.

“Over the last few years on The European Tour I felt if I played well I could finish in the top five perhaps, if everything went to plan.  But I feel that now I can really have an opportunity of winning; it's a belief change and it's a good one.”

During a stellar career on The European Tour, Montgomerie famously amassed ten top ten finishes in the four Major Championships, including five runner-up spots.

This week he has joined up with former caddie Alastair McLean and hopes to finally realise his Major dream on the Senior Tour.

“We know together how to win together,” continued Montgomerie, who won 25 of his 31 titles and all eight European Tour Order of Merits with McLean on the bag.

“Alastair caddied for me for 11 years, half of my professional career and I just felt it was right that we should get together here, try to win the Majors that we came very close to doing on the regular Tour in the Senior events now.  We've been very close over the years and had a lot of success together.

“It's great that that friendship has remained and been able to rekindle here and I look forward to walking the fairways with him again. I would love to win a Major, not just for myself, but for him, as well.”

Montgomerie also enthused about the longevity and enduring qualities that golf possesses for the older generation.

“It's great, suddenly I'm a member of three tours,” he continued. “I'm still exempt on The European Tour and now have the European Senior Tour and the Champions Tour. And three weeks ago I was a member of one!

“It’s very rare in sport to get the opportunity of a completely new chapter in one’s life, to almost start again at 50. Golf is fabulous.”

While Montgomerie is the rookie in the field this week, one player with plenty of experience in The Senior Open Championship is three time winner Tom Watson.

The American Ryder Cup Captain is bidding for a third Senior Open title on a course where he previously won the Open Championship.

Watson, who plays the first two rounds with South African David Frost and 1989 Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia, won the last of his five Claret Jugs at Royal Birkdale 30 years ago, and he is relishing his return to the Southport links.

“It's great to be back, because it's another wonderful links golf course that's playing not quite as fierce as last's Open Championship at Muirfield but has a lot of characteristics of what you want in a links golf course.  It's fun to play this type of golf.

“My game is somewhat sketchy right now.  I actually played pretty well today in practice.  It was nice to play well and putt well, but you know, you never know, you never know.  There's ways to play the golf course and they are starting to come back.”