Colin Montgomerie, one of the most successful players in the history of the European Tour, is coming to America. He’s debuting at the Constellation Senior Players Championship this week in Pittsburgh.
The recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee is looking at it as a new chapter in his life.
“I've got a new hunger for the game now and I've been working all year towards this date,” Montgomerie said this week.
In his heyday, Montgomerie competed against Bernhard Langer and Seve Ballesteros week in and week out. He won the money list there seven times in a row and eight times in all. He’s undefeated in Ryder Cup singles and second only to Nick Faldo in total Ryder Cup points won.
“We used to have great battles on the European Tour, Bernhard Langer and myself, and I look forward to it,” he added. “I used to come over and play against (Fred) Couples and Mark O'Meara and Kenny Perry and David Frost and all the great players you have on that Champions Tour. Now I look forward to competing against them again.” Montgomerie, who has 31 European Tour victories, has not won for six years. His last was the 2007 European Open over at the K Club in Ireland.
"It's been a long time,” he said about his last win. “I’m sure I haven't forgotten, but at the same time I would like to get into contention to see how I fare.”
In recent years, Montgomerie has continued to play European events, but he has also been doing broadcast work for Sky Sports during major championships.
“People seem to be looking forward to me competing in America,” he added. “So it's a fantastic opportunity for me.”
He enters the Champions Tour in the same town where he had one of his best showings. It was 1994 in Pittsburgh at Oakmont CC in the U.S. Open where he was in a playoff with Loren Roberts and Ernie Els. Els won in extra holes after the 18-hole playoff.
“Let's hope it's not quite as warm as 1994. And let's hope for a better result than finishing 2nd,” he quipped, recalling both his finish and the blistering temperatures during that week. “But at the same time, you know, it means a lot to me coming back to Pittsburgh.”
Like most golfers who have aged up, Montgomerie is embracing the senior circuit. “A lot of sport is age related, and I'm fortunate I'm playing against guys that hit the ball a mile now, and I would like to get back to normality where I can at least compete off the tee with some of the older guys,” he added.
Fred Couples thinks Montgomerie will do well.
“Colin Montgomerie is a Hall of Famer, he's a seven-time (Order of Merit) champ,” Couples said. “But when you go play in Europe when you're 49 years old, you're not one of those guys that can feel like you dominate. So when you come out here, it's a breath of fresh air.”
Tom Watson also likes Montgomerie’s chances in the US.
“He drives the ball very straight and he putts the ball very well, and I suspect him to do very well out here,” he said.
In recent years, Montgomerie said he’s been playing guys half his age. “I've got children older than them,” he said, adding that on the Champions Tour he will be on more of level playing field.
Montgomerie expects to play 20 Champions Tour events, six or seven European Tour events, and three European Seniors events. This week, at least, he’s a true rookie.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.