Colin Montgomerie likes nothing better than a good old blether about golf . . . even if it is conducted in a furious lather.

"You'll have to make it quick, I've got a clinic to do on the range in five minutes," he gasped as he parked himself down and frantically shoved on his golf shoes.

Given that he often leaves great swathes of the donkey population looking for their hind legs with the length of his chin-wags when he is in a jolly, co-operative mood, keeping Monty to a five-minute time limit was something of a historic moment in golf writing circles. First up? This week's US Open at Pinehurst.

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"I think Rory McIlroy will win," declared Montgomerie, as he looked ahead to the second major of the year over a course that has been stripped back and is devoid of the kind of gouge-out rough so typical of a US Open. "Pinehurst is set up for a ballstriker and Rory is the best ballstriker in the world and he is going to win it this time."

There are plenty fancying the Northern Irishman, of course. His sparkling win in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth at the end of May, which came just days after the public announcement of his break-up from fiancee Caroline Wozniacki, has galvanised the two-time major champion.

"He is just getting into things with his win at the PGA Championship at Wentworth and I think he is ready," added Montgomerie, who was speaking, albeit hurriedly, at the launch of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label limited brand of Ryder Cup whisky at Gleneagles yesterday.

"It was a super win at Wentworth. He needed some help and Thomas [Bjorn] gave him it but Rory finished with the lowest score. It says a lot about his mental strength because the week started with a 'wow' and it ended with a 'wow'. He wants success again. He wants to get back to world No.1 again. And it's available because Tiger Woods is not dominant for obvious reasons."

We will not be seeing the Woods on the tees this week. The 14-time major champion, who has not played since the WGC Cadillac Championship in March, is continuing his recovery from back surgery and, having missed April's Masters, the former world No.1 pulled out of the Pinehurst showpiece a couple of weeks ago.

Next month's Open at Hoylake could also be a Tiger-less affair. And as for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles? It all remains in the lap of the golfing gods.

"The big question now is whether he is coming back for the Open and, if he misses that one, then it's only two weeks to the US PGA," added Montgomerie. "We want him to play in the Ryder Cup; it's a better and bigger event with him in it. I think he'll be back for the Open but if he's not it must be a major problem, much worse than we ever thought.

"The Ryder Cup is getting close now and he needs a pick unless he starts winning these things. Would you pick Tiger at 75%? It's up to Tom Watson to decide but it's also up to the rest of the team as well. Do they want someone who's not fit?

"Can they put their trust in a guy who's not fit enough to play his best? It's a difficult one for the captain but I wish him well because golf misses him. He's the biggest name in golf."

And with that, the Monty whirlwind was over.