Colin Montgomerie has already hit his opening shot in the 145th Open Championship “a lot in my head” and is now hoping he can overcome a mix of “emotion and anxiety” when he attempts to execute it when it really matters.
That, of course, will be at 6.35am on Thursday morning, when the Royal Troon member gets the season’s third major underway on home turf, where extra pressure will be added to the occasion as the first blow in the event is televised live for the first time.
“I’ve already hit that opening shot a lot,” Montgomerie, speaking in his role as a Rolex ambassador, told The Scotsman before heading out to complete his preparations for the event in Ayrshire with one final practice round. “Using a 3-iron, it starts on the left-hand corner of the bunker and fades back into the fairway - I hope.
“It is a huge honour to lead off on my own course and this year, of course, the opening shot is being shown live, so I think I’ll be both a bit emotional and anxious. I’ve been in similar situations, of course. I’ve led off a few Ryder Cups in my day and you play that shot in your head as well.
“I will be playing this one in my head overnight, too, though I never normally have any problems sleeping and don’t expect that to be a problem on this occasion.
“I’ve done it before, so it’s okay. But I think a bit anxiety is a good thing. You don’t want to be over confident and you don’t want to be too nervous that you can’t grip the club. A bit of both is a nice position to be in.”
His alarm will be set for 4.30am and, with not far too travel - he’s staying with his father and long-time Troon resident, James, this week - is aiming to be at the course for 5am.
“I never hit many balls and won’t be changing that routine,” he said, smiling. “I will warm up for half an hour then get out there and do what I enjoy the most - playing golf.”
It’s been a hectic week so far for the 53-year-old, who secured his first appearance in the Claret Jug event since 2010 by coming through a qualifier at nearby Gailes Links just over a fortnight ago.
He entertained the world’s media at a press conference on Monday then last night attended the Association of Golf Writers’ Dinner to receive an award for his “services to the press”.
In addition, the 2010 Ryder Cup-winning captain has been fulfiling contractual obligations to Sky Sports as the satellite company takes over as host broadcaster from the BBC for the first time.
“There is a lot going on and you do have to concentrate on why you are actually here,” admitted Montgomerie over a cup of coffee in the plush Rolex suite at the side of the par-5 16th.
“I’ve got TV and media commitments then, oh, there’s the golf. It’s almost secondary and you have to be careful. I’ve got to compete against the likes of Dustin Johnson here.
“I know this course better than anyone, but I’m going out for one final practice round later to try and get some feel as you still have to hit the shots even though you know how it has to be played.”
Montgomerie played one of his practice rounds with American Todd Hamilton, the surprise winner here in 2004, but opted to go out early on his own on another occasion.
“They were both great because I’m getting great support out there,” he said. “I think it is lovely that people are wanting me to do well.”