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New year brings a new career for Monty

On those care-free occasions, far removed from the huffing and puffing that takes place on the golf course, you could get Colin Montgomerie talking about anything.

When he's not clumping down the fairway with a face like a slowly melting welly en route to a missed cut, the Scot likes nothing better than to hold court and mull over all things golf related.

In carnival mood, no-one does a charm offensive better than Monty and yesterday, as a guest of honour at the PGA in Scotland's annual luncheon in Glasgow, the 49-year-old was all smiles and soundbites. From the Ryder Cup to the prospect of a new lease of life in the over-50 ranks, the eight-time European No.1 is never short of a line. So, first things first. With the Ryder Cup heading to the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles in 2014, Montgomerie may just have let a wee cat out of the bag.

As the tournament chairman of the Johnnie Walker Championship, the event that is staged at the Perthshire resort, he hinted that it may not be going ahead during the Ryder Cup year. With that in mind, the former European team captain has urged the potential team members to pitch up next season and take the last competitive opportunity to get to know the 2014 venue.

"The Johnnie Walker is very important in 2013 because there's no '14 event, so it's very important that they play at Gleneagles," said Montgomerie, before a festive bash where Renton Laidlaw, the Scottish broadcaster, received a Lifetime Achievement Award and the long-serving Prestwick pro Frank Rennie earned the John Panton Award for services to the game.

"Look at Graeme McDowell winning in Wales just before the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in 2010? His career flourished. When I was Ryder Cup captain, I was disappointed that not everybody turned up to play in the Welsh Open at Celtic Manor earlier in the year.

"We want them all at Gleneagles in 2013, If someone wins on that course [Gleneagles] next year, it would be hard to leave him out of the team."

The most pressing issue for the European officials at the moment is who to plump for as captain for the defence of the little gold chalice on Scottish turf in two years' time. The Americans, having lost seven of the last nine Ryder Cup contests, set out a completely new stall last week by shunning convention and unveiling the 63-year-old Tom Watson as skipper.

The frontrunners for Europe's post remain Paul McGinley, an able deputy down the seasons and a highly respected captain of GB&I in the breeding ground that is the Seve Trophy, and the major-winning Darren Clarke but Monty insists those involved in the selection process on this side of the pond should not be swayed by events elsewhere. "America had to change something," he added. "They've decided to change their view to think 'how can we win this back?' If you look at it, there's a betting thing going on, which I totally disagree with – I've never had a bet in my life – and Darren is favourite having won a major championship. It goes back to this best-man-for-the-job business. There are certain people who are meant to be in charge of a team and some who are not. We have to select the best man irrespective of what the US have done. That shouldn't change."

One that is changing, however, is Monty's thoughts on his own golf. In 2013, the 31-time European Tour winner will reach his half century and he is set to make his debut among the golden oldies in July's Senior Open at Royal Birkdale. Having slithered down to 521st in the world rankings, the curtailing of his competitive clout in recent years has hit him where it hurts. The new year is a chance for a new start, though. He is exempt on both the regular European Tour and the European Senior Tour while his recent inclusion in the World Golf Hall of Fame will allow him to dip his bread in the over-50s gravy train that is the US Champions Tour.

"As you near 50, options decrease in life but, in golf, it's different," he said with a smile. "I've gone from one tour to three. At 50 years old that's not bad. The first six months of 2013, will be in preparation for what happens in the last six months.

"I turn 50 in June and I'm looking forward to getting that feeling, that feeling I used to have on the first tee of a European Tour event, where I believed I could win. If I'm being honest, I don't do that now on the first tee of a European Tour event. I can't put my ball down on the first tee believing I can win. I wish I had that feeling but I'm not there. I want to get my game in shape and get right up for this British Seniors at Birkdale, which is a real biggy for me, so I can put my tee in the ground there and say to myself: 'I can win this.' I would like that feeling again."

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