THE magic of playing in an Open Championship at St Andrews has enticed Colin Montgomerie to plan a 5,500-mile mad dash from Los Angeles to London in a bid to make it an eightsome reel for the Scot in golf’s majors this year.
The 51-year-old is in the middle of a run of five consecutive major appearances and has two more after that, including a freshly-secured spot in the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits after his successful defence of the Senior equivalent in Indiana last weekend.
The only missing piece in the remaining 2015 major jigsaw, in fact, is the Open Championship and Montgomerie is ready to fight jet-lag in one of the four final qualifying events at Woburn on 30 June in a determined bid to play in that as well, having finished second to Tiger Woods on the Old Course in 2005.
“I’m currently in a run of five majors in a row, which is bizzare really,” he told The Scotsman. “I played the Regions Tradition and then the one I’ve just won, the Senior PGA Championship. The next three are the Senior Players’ in Boston, followed by the proper US Open then Senior US Open, both over on the west coast.
“With the Senior Open and now the US PGA to come later in the season, I already know I’ll be playing in seven majors this year and if I could qualify for The Open at St Andrews that would make it eight, which has got to be a record.
“I’m coming back from Los Angeles straight after the Senior US Open for the Open qualifying at Woburn. I didn’t try to qualify for it last year due to how the tournaments fell, but I’d love to be at St Andrews and you have to give every opportunity you have of playing there a chance. With Bernhard Langer having gained the spot that was up for grabs through the Senior Open last year, my only way in now is through the qualifying. It’s not the course at Woburn I’ve won on, which is a pity. It’s the Marquess’ Course across the road. Along with my caddie Alistair McLean, we land on Monday afternoon and it’s two rounds the next day. I’ll be fighting jet-lag so it will be a push, but I’m going to give it a go.”
The last time the eight-times European No 1 attempted to squeeze into the Claret Jug joust through the same route was two years ago at Gullane, where he is returning in July to join the star-studded cast for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
“I couldn’t play in the Scottish Open last year because it was against the US Senior Open, but I’ll be there this time,” he said. “[Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive] Martin Gilbert understood what happened last year, but it’s not against a major this year, so I’m looking forward to being at Gullane.”
Montgomerie now has three over-50s majors to his name and fired back at the cynics who claimed after his latest victory that while he was trumpeting such victories, Jack Nicklaus, the game’s greatest player, probably wouldn’t know how many Senior titles he has won.
“There will always be people saying ‘that’s not proper competition because it seniors’ golf’. But, if anyone thinks it is easy, then they should come out here and give it a go,” he said. “My word, it ain’t easy when you are up against highly-competitive guys like Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and Kenny Perry, Freddie Couples and Bernhard Langer, to name a few. When I do win I am having to play very close to the levels I was in the 90s.”
Montgomerie’s victory at French Lick helped ease the pain of losing his European Tour hole-in-one record to Miguel Angel Jimenez after the Spaniard made the tenth ace of his career at Wentworth on Saturday. It helped Jimenez, a Senior himself these days but still going strong on the main circuit, to be joint runner-up in the BMW PGA Championship.
“To finish second at Wentworth at the age of 51 was a great performance from Miguel,” said Montgomerie. He added, laughing: “All credit to him and the longer he stays on the European Tour the better. He has taken my hole-in-one record. Bernhard Langer had eight, I had nine and now he’s beaten it. But that’s what records are for. He has deserved it and it’s worth it for the dance he does afterwards.”