Golf: Colin Montgomerie in for a shock when he joins senior tours, warns Gary Player
GARY Player, the only man to have achieved the over-50s grand slam, has cast doubt on Colin Montgomerie’s chances of emulating his feat when the Scot becomes eligible for senior events next June.
In a recently published autobiography, Montgomerie said he’d be aiming high when he started a new chapter in his career, writing: “I may as well come clean and say I am tempted by the idea of a senior grand slam.”
Only Player has managed the clean sweep of majors on the European Senior Tour, with the South African capturing the US Senior PGA, the Senior Open Championship and the US Senior Open in 1988.
The middle of those wins came at Turnberry, where the 76-year-old is back this week, and he reckons Montgomerie is in for a shock once he leaves the regular tour to join the golden oldies. “I can’t win answering that,” said Player when asked about the eight-times European No 1 setting his sights on a grand slam.
“[Former US Open champion] Tommy Bolt said if you say the wrong thing you get the front page, if you say the right thing you get the back page. I think that’s the case here.
“Obviously, you just have that ambition but I really don’t think he knows how tough it is. Colin is a wonderful golfer and sure he might do it. But – and I’m not boasting – there is only one man who has won the senior grand slam and that’s me. [Arnold] Palmer, [Jack] Nicklaus and [Tom] Watson have all tried and it’s not that easy.”
Player, who was speaking as he unveiled a report commissioned by HSBC into golf’s future over the next eight years, added: “Life has its way of dealing with different situations and it’s very sad for me that Colin hasn’t won a regular major. I expect him to win senior majors, but time will tell if he can win them all.”
Looking as fit now as he did when recording the first of his three Open Championship wins in 1959, Player is relishing this week’s Senior Open at Turnberry after beating his age by four shots in a recent European Senior Tour event in Switzerland.
However, he admits the senior scene would be a better place if Seve Ballesteros had been around, and he shared a story about the Spaniard, who died last year after losing a battle with brain cancer, that makes him feel sad to this day.
“I was standing outside the Augusta clubhouse one year,” he said.
“I was waiting for a car to take me to the airport when Seve came past in a car. I shouted ‘adios compadre’ and he stopped and reversed the car.
“He asked me ‘Gary why are you always so happy?’ I said to him that I loved my work, I loved meeting people, I had a great family and I was very healthy.
“He said, as a tear rolled down his cheek, ‘me no happy, adios’. I think it was the last time he played in the Masters. It was very sad.”
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