Colin Montgomerie is writing off Rory McIlroy as a title contender at Carnoustie, where he reckons Justin Rose will be the man to beat in the battle for the Claret Jug in the 147th Open Championship, writes Martin Dempster.
McIlroy claimed his third major title in this event at Royal Liverpool four years ago before also winning the US PGA Championship at Valhalla a few weeks later, but has not been in the mix in The Open since then.
“He hits the ball so high, and in a wind it’s not great, he’s much better off on a softer course than a hard fast course,” said Montgomerie. “That’s why he’s not one of my favourites for Carnoustie, where it’s going to be very firm.
“When he won at Hoylake, it was much softer. When he won at Congressional (in the 2011 US Open), it was very soft. He tends to play better on the long softer courses than the hard fast ones. He’s an expert at the high-flying, target golf.”
McIlroy ended a title drought when winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill earlier in the year before suffering disappointment in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth after leading at the halfway stage. He then missed the cut in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills last month after an opening 80.
“Three ahead after two days he really should have won that one,” said Montgomerie of the Wentworth event. “That was one that got away. Not to take anything away from Francesco Molinari, but he should have won that. The bets were off at halfway, weren’t they?”
As for Rose, Montgomerie said of the world No 3 and former US Open champion: “If you finish ahead of Justin at Carnoustie, you’ll win. He hits fairways and greens and, if you hit all the par-4s in regulation, you’ve got an advantage.”
Colin Montgomerie has been working with Loch Lomond Whiskies to create two limited editions – a ‘Single Cask’ and a ‘Colin Montgomerie Limited Edition Single Malt’ – to mark next week’s 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie.