Montgomerie, who led the way after the first round of the 2001 championship at Lytham only to fall away into a share of 13th, failed to qualify for this week's championship but is on site in his role as a television pundit.
Lawrie, who won the Open at Carnoustie in 1999, has enjoyed a rousing renaissance over the past year and the 42-year-old is on course to return to the Ryder Cup arena in September after a 13-year absence.
Along with Lee Westwood, who is aiming to become the first Englishman to win the Open on English soil since Tony Jacklin in 1969, and Justin Rose, Montgomerie has already singled out the home hopefuls he believes will mount a serious challenge.
He said: "As for a possible British winner, I would favour a Lee Westwood-style of player here. The greens are probably flatter than most of the Open courses so that takes away his nemesis, which is his putting.
"I think Justin Rose will do very well here – he's going in feeling very confident – and I think Paul Lawrie will, too. He's playing the golf of his life and he's holing out well. I think that those three will definitely contend.
Lawrie, a European team-mate of Montgomerie's in the Ryder Cup, leads a small posse of six Scots into battle over the formidable Lancashire links tomorrow.
That number could have been bolstered had Marc Warren held on to his commanding three-shot lead coming down the stretch in Sunday's Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
Warren, who partnered Montgomerie to World Cup glory for Scotland in 2007, spilled four shots over his last four holes to lose out on the title and the solitary Open place on offer.
Montgomerie, 49, added: "I feel a lot of sympathy for Marc. He's become a good friend over the years.
"How long it takes you to get over a disappointment depends on your character. It was a great effort and it's secured his playing rights for next year, which is always important, and I'm sure he'll bounce back and go from strength to strength."
Meanwhile, Lawrie last night insisted that there was no ill feeling towards Davis Love III, the American Ryder Cup captain, who has been grouped with the Aberdonian for the opening two rounds at Lytham.
When Lawrie triumphed in the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, the brutal nature of the Angus links that year led to it being dubbed "Car-nasty" and prompted strongly worded criticism, particularly from those on the other side of the Atlantic. Lawrie's final score of 290, six-over par, was the highest winning total in an Open since Henry Cotton's 294 at Muirfield in 1948 and led to Love III, who finished in a share of seventh, reportedly suggesting the championship got the winner it deserved.
Lawrie said: "There was never any ill-feeling on my part. Davis came over to me on the putting green at Troon in 2004 and there were some reports in the paper again about what he had allegedly said. He came over and said: 'I just need you to know that I never said that. I wouldn't say that about a fellow pro. I don't know where that came from, but I'm telling you straight to your face that I never said it'.
"That was good enough for me. I've not got a problem with him at all."