Montgomerie snr served as club secretary at the Ayrshire club for more than 20 years and will take up a new role there soon after his son, having come through a 36-hole final qualifying shootout at nearby Gailes Links, competes in the ninth Claret Jug joust at the venue.
“In a way (it was one for dad),” admitted Montgomerie of securing his return to one of the game’s biggest stages on home turf after last teeing it up in the season’s third major in 2010 at St Andrews, where he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods five years earlier.
“He’s 86 now and he becomes president of the club at the agm just after The Open. That’s for a three-year spell and he’s so proud to take on that role, being an honorary member himself, as I am. It’s a big deal for him to have this whole thing happen, including me qualifying, and I’m thrilled for him.”
Until recently, Montgomerie snr often attended events, including the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, where his other son, Douglas, joined them for a family reunion in the sun.
“Walking 18 holes is now really beyond him – I asked him, actually, to stay away from Glasgow Gailes, to be honest,” added Montgomerie in explaining why his father had been conspicuous by his absence at the nail-biting qualifier.
“He’ll be out on the first tee (at Royal Troon) no doubt, and he’s got his position in the stand and in the clubhouse, but that’s it. I don’t think you’ll see him on the ninth green as it’s about a three-mile hike out there. He will be around the first and 18th and be very proud, having been very excited when I got home after qualifying.”
While Montgomerie has represented a number of golf clubs over the years – Turnberry, for example, and the course in Dubai that bears his name – how appropriate that the 53-year-old should currently be flying the Royal Troon flag.
“I could bore you to death with them,” he said, chuckling, when asked to recall some of his Troon memories. “My first shot of golf was on the children’s course, which is the practice ground now and where all the marquees and tents are for The Open now. I wasn’t allowed to play until I was 18 on the Old Course, but I could play on the Troon Portland course. In school holidays before I was 18, I was playing three rounds a day – 54 holes. Whether 36 at Portland, or the Troon municipal courses, the Fullarton and the Darley. I would have left on the bike with the golf clubs over one shoulder and not come back until well after tea-time.”
Montgomerie made his Open debut the year after Mark Calcavecchia triumphed in 1989 at Troon. In 1997, he tied for 24th there behind Justin Leonard before falling just one spot as Todd Hamilton sprang his surprise in 2004 to become the sixth American in succession to claim the Claret Jug at the Ayrshire course.
“I really did think my days of playing in The Open were over,” admitted the eight-time European No.1. “I had an opportunity (to qualify by winning last year’s Senior Open) at Sunningdale when I was two ahead with eight to go and knew the winner got into The Open. Whether that played a part in me not winning I’m not sure.
“My last Open was 2010 at St Andrews and I thought the days of playing in these majors were behind me. I was lucky enough to play in a couple of US PGAs and the US Open last year at Chambers Bay (because of his Senior major wins). But The Open is different and almost more difficult to get into. Three spots for qualifying isn’t great and you think a bit of a lottery.
Sky Sports will show The
Open exclusively live for the
first time from 14-17 July.