Colin Montgomerie is ready to make new memories at Royal Lytham & St Annes when The Senior Open Presented by Rolex gets under way from July 25-28.
The three-time Senior Major Champion led The 2001 Open for 36 holes at the Lancashire links and will tee it up for his seventh Senior Open Presented by Rolex, hoping to better his runner-up finish from 2014 at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.
“I led The Open for two days, Thursday and Friday. I wish it was only 36 holes and not 72,” he said. “My first round of 65 was a good score. You do feed off that, and you have good memories about shots you hit then. It might be 18 years ago, but you still remember where not to go and to go, and it's exciting to come back to a place that you've had reasonable success at.
“It's a great test of golf. When you're saying there are nearly 200 bunkers, you divide that by 18, you've got 11 a hole, an average of 11 a hole. That's ridiculous. There's a bunker around every corner. Everywhere you look there's a bunker.
“We all know that the secret of links golf is to stay out of the bunkers. You saw people last week at The Open, they were driving into bunkers and it was an automatic bogey. You've got to stay out of the bunkers. That's the main thing.”
The man who dominated at Royal Porthcawl in 2014, beating Montgomerie to a maiden Senior Open title was Bernhard Langer. The German, who has ten top ten finishes from 11 appearances in this event, will go in search of his fourth victory title, two years after lifting the Senior Open Trophy in Wales.
The record ten-time Senior Major winner has a passion for links golf and he hopes to rekindle that love when the action begins on Thursday.
“The last 11 years I've played well in this championship,” he said. “I love links golf and had some success, won three of the Senior Open Championships and came close a few other times, so I look forward to this week.
“It's always a challenge for me to play every shot under demanding conditions and against a very strong field. A very demanding golf course, tons of bunkers, maybe more so than anywhere else I can remember, and it's going to be a challenge to stay out of them.”
One of Montgomerie’s compatriots, Paul Lawrie, will make his Senior Open Presented by Rolex debut this year. The 1999 Open Champion turned 50 at the beginning of the year and joins Langer and the eight-time European Tour Number One in the field.
After lifting the Claret Jug 20 years ago and with memories of the links layout from 2012 in his mind, Lawrie is excited for another challenge when he tees it up for his Senior Open debut.
“I believe there's not many that have won both the Open and the Senior Open,” he said. “So, to add my name to that list would be very special, and if it doesn't happen this week, then I've got a few Senior Open opportunities to try.
“But it's just nice to be back playing golf. Whether I win or not is not really a huge thing for me. To be back playing and competing is what it's all about.
“I think I won three times on the Tour around 2012 and got back in The Ryder Cup team that year, so that was one of my best years as a professional. It was certainly the most top tens I've ever had in a year as a professional, so I look back on that, obviously, with confidence and knowing that I can play around here. But I'm a little older now and not quite as fit, so we'll see how we get this week.”