The most treasured possession from Colin Montgomerie’s glittering golf career isn’t actually listed on the CV of the man who was the sport’s modern-day pioneer in its birthplace.
It’s a crystal bowl he was presented with by fellow Scot Ken Schofield, the circuit’s chief executive at the time, to mark his remarkable feat of topping the European Tour Order of Merit seven times in a row from 1993 through to 1999 before reclaiming the No 1 spot for an eighth time in 2005
“When you look back on anything, you see it in a different light,” he said. “When I look back on what I achieved in those years, I will never forget the trophy that Ken Schofield gave me.
“It said on the top of it, ‘seven consecutive years No 1’ and then ‘a record that will forever remain unique’. It’s my most treasured possession that, really.”
In subsequent years, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy have all claimed back-to-back Order of Merit wins, but time is proving what an amazing achievement that actually was by Montgomerie.
“If there is one person in Europe that will have opportunities to do that, it has to be Rory McIlroy,” he added. “But he’s not managed to do three in a row yet, so it might indeed remain unique.
“You have to be healthy, you have to be fortunate at times, too. You have to be able to keep it going when things might be a bit of struggle.
“I was very ambitious after winning the first couple and I was able to keep it going in tough times against the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam etc at the start of that run then, at the other end, against Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and others.
“When you talk about names like those, I am very proud of what I achieved. When people say ‘seven years in a row’, you do think, ‘bloody hell, that was actually quite good’. It might never be broken, who knows, and people will probably look at it when I’m long gone and think the same thing.”
While Old Tom Morris was the father of golf in Scotland, Montgomerie holds that modern-day mantle, having racked up 50 professional victories worldwide, played in eight Ryder Cups and also been a winning European captain in that event.
“When you hear it that way or see it that way, it is indeed a proud mantle to have,” he said. “We had a bit of a lean spell, to be honest, after Sandy Lyle’s two major victories (the 1985 Open and 1988 Masters).
“It needed someone to do something, and I am very conscious of the fact that I do come from the Home of Golf and if we had a national game, golf would be it.
“After Sandy’s success in the late 80s, the 90s needed someone to keep it going and I did that, I suppose, within Europe certainly, so it is a nice mantle to have.”
These days, Montgomerie is flying the Saltire on the Champions Tour, the over-50s circuit in the US, and still feels the same sense of intense pride as he did starting out in the game.
“I feel very proud to have flown the flag for Scotland around the world. When you come from this country, everybody knows about it’s golfing history,” he said.
“They all know about our Open Championship courses, but it’s more than just that. The Americans, the Chinese, people from all over the world just love coming here to play at the likes of Royal
Dornoch, Nairn, North Berwick, Western Gailes and all the hidden gems around the country.
“They all talk about the golf and also the hospitality. It is our national sport. We are proud owners of the Home of Golf and to be able to travel the world as a Scotsman playing golf has been a great thrill.
“If I was from any other country, it just wouldn’t have the same ring or tone to it. It is a very treasured thing.”