FIRST he didn’t seem keen on playing any senior golf. Then, he said he’d dip a toe in the water by making his over-50s debut in next year’s Senior Open.
Now, Colin Montgomerie is lining up a full-blooded assault on the majors after setting his sights on trying to win the “senior grand slam”.
Jack Nicklaus achieved the feat by winning four of the over-50s majors – the Tradition, the Senior PGA, the US Senior Open and the Senior Players’ Championship. The British Senior Open has since been granted major status, meaning the task will be even more difficult for Monty, who turns 50 in June 2013.
But, as his career in the regular majors nears its end – he failed to qualify for the US Open earlier this week and faces a similar test next month for this year’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham – he is beginning to warm to the idea of starting a new chapter.
“I may as well come clean and say I am tempted by the idea of a ‘senior grand slam’,” admitted the eight-time European No 1. “A tall order, I know, but golfing dreams are not solely the preserve of the young.
“I turn 50 a month ahead of the 2013 Senior Open and I will see how I enjoy the camaraderie that week. I’m beginning to suspect I will like it a lot. I will be in the class of ’63 that includes Vijay Singh and Davis Love.
“In the meantime, I love it on the main circuit and, in the time I have left, it’s my ambition to be the Tour’s oldest winner. Des Smyth heads the official list thanks to his win in the 2001 Madeira Island Open at 48 years, 34 days.
“There are increasing numbers of players on the European Tour young enough to be my sons. There are courses I cannot compete with players like Alvaro Quiros. I have to pick my courses with care, like Wentworth or Hong Kong.
“If, or rather when, I start moving in senior circles the length side of things will no longer be an issue. The over-50s don’t go for back tees and my swing should serve me better.
“I will be back swinging in my comfort zone, which will help me rediscover my old rhythm. I like the idea of being rookie of the year again.”
As he starts looking to the future, Monty will have been heartened by watching Englishman Roger Chapman, who won just once on the regular circuit in a career spanning more than 20 years, win the US Senior PGA in Michigan last weekend.
“I’ll be aiming my 2013 season at Birkdale,” added the Scot in his new book Monty: An Autobiography. “I will have ten practice rounds in the months leading up to it. If you think I’m putting pressure on myself by revealing as much, you’re absolutely right, I actually want that pressure.
“For years I said I would not consider playing [senior] tournament golf and concentrate on my mother’s charity, course design and expanding my commentary work for Sky. But the longer I go on the more I recognise I’m a competitor.”
Monty has also admitted in the book that he’s been a guilty party among the modern-day designers by building courses that are too long and, therefore, too difficult for the average player.
“A golf course should be able to satisfy the needs of the amateur and professional in equal measure,” he said. “For amateurs, it has to deliver on two levels. First, it has to be a good experience: it is people’s leisure time we are talking about and that should never be forgotten.
“Secondly, the course should be enough of a challenge to lure the amateur back, sometimes to meet and overcome the challenge, sometimes to be defeated by it.
“For the professional, I don’t believe the course should be set up in such a way that low scoring is more or less out of the question. In my view, the golfing public want to see the occasional record being slashed, always provided – and this is the key – that every aspect of the professional’s game has come under scrutiny.
“The biggest mistake in modern design – and I have been guilty of it myself in the past – is making courses too long.”