Having come so close to winning a US Open, Colin Montgomerie admits he is now relishing the opportunity to finally land a USGA title in this week’s US Senior Open at Omaha Country Club in Nebraska.
The Scot lost out to Ernie Els in a play-off in the 1994 US Open and was runner up again in 1997 and 2006, but after turning 50 last month, he is now looking forward to another shot at glory, before heading to Royal Birkdale in two weeks for his debut in The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex.
“I've been very close to winning the US Open on a number of occasions, and it would be great to finally come over to America and win a USGA event,” he said. “I look forward to trying to achieve that.
“These championships are Major Championships. There are more golfers in the world over 50 than there are under 50. So this is a major, major championship, and I treat it as such. The standard of golf is very high.”
The eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner is expecting a typically tough examination akin to the 16 US Opens he played in.
“The USGA set up the courses in such a manner that it excluded half the field almost immediately and allowed me to feel one‑up on the first tee because it suited my game,” he said. “ I hit the fairways, and I hit the greens, and that's what the US Open was all about, hitting fairways and greens.
“And this course is really no different. Fairways and greens, and it takes the pressure off. It’s amazing over the four days, the guy that's got the less pressure on him will end up winning. So that's my goal this particular week is fairways and greens.”
Montgomerie will tee it up for the first two rounds alongside Germany’s Bernhard Langer and American Tom Watson, making a trio of victorious Ryder Cup Captains.
“I've got a good draw on Thursday, with Tom and Bernhard,” he said. “Three winning Ryder Cup captains playing together, and I look forward to that draw. If I can stay with Bernhard, especially now age‑wise, if I can stay with Bernhard, I'll be quite happy. It's quite a standard to maintain to play with Bernhard Langer.”
Europe’s winning Ryder Cup Captain in 2010 plans to play a practice round on Wednesday with defending champion Roger Chapman, who is also the reigning US Senior PGA Champion. Montgomerie hopes to pick Chapman’s brains about his double Senior Major triumph last year.
“He was obviously thrilled to win back‑to‑back Majors here in the states the way he did, and it was a fantastic achievement of his and something that we'd all like to emulate,” he said. “We just wish him well. If he can do that again, it's fantastic for Britain. We're doing okay in sport right now.”
For his own part, Chapman admits that his personal expectations have risen following his extraordinary double-Senior Major triumph in 2012, which led to him winning the European Senior Tour Order of Merit.
“I was quite nervous at Bellerive Country Club for the US PGA, so hopefully I've learned from that,” he said. “When they announce you as 2012 champion, you think, whoa, wait a minute.
“The expectation levels you put on yourself goes up a bit, so you don't want to make any mistakes. You want to do this, you don't want to do that. So it just puts a little bit of added pressure on you. I'll take it.
He added: “I've loved every minute of every day of being US PGA champion and the US Open champion. You just want more of it. It's a wonderful feeling.
“Thanks to the USGA and the PGA of America, they've made my life so good over the last 12 months. It's been wonderful.”