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US Open champion Colin Montgomerie is now firmly in the driving seat on America's highways and fairways

It's a big country.

Rejuvenated Colin Montgomerie is delighted to be striding out for this week's British Seniors Open in Wales following his triumph in the US Senior Open Photograph: Getty
Rejuvenated Colin Montgomerie is delighted to be striding out for this week's British Seniors Open in Wales following his triumph in the US Senior Open Photograph: Getty

And even bigger when you're covering its vast expanses behind the wheel of a car. Colin Montgomerie's American road trips have made the drives of Smokey and the Bandit look like a quick hop round to the local off-licence. At least he doesn't have Jackie Gleason on his tail.

"Bloody hell," puffed Monty. "Talk about the length and breadth of America. I forgot it was that big. The longest I've done is Los Angeles to Boloxi, Mississippi, which is 1600 miles ... with my wife and still married afterwards. That was a good effort. For her, it was a great effort.

"It took me two days. I know the police set their radars at 10% so I could go at 90 mph. In the US that is fantastic. I just set myself at 90 and off we went.

"Driving relaxes me. I drive everywhere; New York down to North Carolina, back up, over to Chicago. The average between events is about 10 to 12 hours of driving. I listen to all sorts of crap on the radio. The sensible players fly, of course. They go above me with no traffic lights. I do the road trip."

With his foot to the floor, Monty has certainly clocked up the miles. It's been worth it, of course. Galvanised by his move onto the lucrative gravy train of the Champions Tour, the 51-year-old is relishing life among the golfing golden oldies. This week, he heads for Royal Porthcawl aiming to complete a triple whammy of titles at the Senior Open.

Forever burdened with that dreaded label, "the best player never to win a Major" during his pomp on the regular tours, Monty has at least brushed a sizeable monkey off his back by flourishing in his 50s and winning both the Senior PGA Championship and last weekend's US Senior Open, which was played out in the stifling heat of Oklahoma.

"Well, that's me two Majors up this year on both Tiger and Rory," Monty added with a smile. "You wait 24 years for something to happen and two Majors turn up around the same time, it's amazing. I think it's just a confidence thing. When you've beaten these guys once then feel you can go out and do it again."

Along with his trusted caddie Alastair McLean, the bagman who was beside him for some of his greatest conquests during those glory-laden years, this auld alliance is enjoying a new lease of life.

"I really do feel as though I am playing as well now as I did in the 1990s and Alastair would back that up," said Montgomerie, who never managed a victory on American soil despite a host of near misses at various US Opens and US PGA Championships.

"Technology has improved, of course, and I'm hitting the ball further and also straighter than I did when I was winning my order of merit titles.

"But I feel as though I am playing as well tee to green and especially so around the greens as I ever did. I didn't really have huge ambitions when I started out in Senior golf because I'd been treading water at best on the main Tour over the last few years. I was hoping I'd do quite well, but I understood that the standard was very high.

"I definitely feel it's been a case of getting a monkey off my back, especially in America. I feel I belong there now. As a Hall of Famer, I was using an invitation category to play over there and I'm delighted that's not the case any more. I can use a winner's category. I feel that I can walk a bit taller in locker rooms now."

This week's contest in south Wales will be something of a step into the unknown for Montgomerie. "I've never been west of Cardiff before, so I've never seen Porthcawl," he admitted.

The links test will be a completely different examination to what he has become accustomed to on his golfing travels around the USA of late, but Montgomerie is looking forward to the challenge of attempting to gather a hat-trick of senior Majors.

"I feel quite Americanised in golf terms," he said. "The last links course I played was Gullane last year when I was trying to qualify for The Open.

"I'm very proud to be coming home as a Major champion. I hate to say I it, but I actually practised over the weekend, which is not like me at all. I really have an opportunity here which is unique in some ways, so why not give it a go?

For a rejuvenated Monty, it seems there's still plenty left in the tank.

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