When Colin Montgomerie is in a carnival mood, like he was during a recent media day as an ambassador for Loch Lomond Whiskies at Kingsbarns, you half expect him to take to the tee performing a cheery double thumbs-up while moonwalking, juggling and making comedy, parp-parp trombone noises.

Handshakes here, jovial bletherings there, grinning, guffawing compliance everywhere? The full Monty, with the permanent beam of man who looks like he’s being paid per square inch of dentistry, is always a joy to behold.

Remind him that it’s 30 years ago this month since he won his first European Tour title and he’ll settle into a nostalgic meander that should be accompanied by a drifting harpsichord recital.

“My God, 30 years,” he gasped as he recalled that whopping 11-shot win in the Portuguese Open of 1989. “It was interesting that my next 10 wins on tour were all by a shot. Yet that very first one was by 11. That’s strange.


“I always say that I was never a great celebrator of victories. And I regret that. I always had a doubt. After each win I’d think ‘will this win be my last?’ So I just tried to keep improving. I loved the feeling of winning. When I won, I was so up. The self-esteem was so high and I felt seven feet tall.”

Monty would go on to win 31 European Tour titles in total during a shimmering career burnished by seven European order of merits in a row.

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He’s 56 now and that timeless, languid swing remains as smooth as ever. In this game of great longevity, the increasing years have never been a barrier to success and there’s plenty of sporting life left in this celebrated Scot yet.

“The juices are still going so why stop?,” he said. “You see Bernhard Langer still winning at 62. Jay Haas at 65 can still contend and was second in a senior major this year. At 56, I’m still a youngster so I’m thinking ‘ok, I’ll keep going’.”

“I mean, what else would I do? You could talk of moving to St Andrews and walking the dogs on the West Sands. But that would take until 10 in the morning. What the hell do I do after that? It’s a long day. So I’ve never thought about retirement.

"Ely Callaway [golf equipment manufacturer] worked to his last day and he was 82. I’ll do the same thing.

“Whatever it is, I’ll still work in golf and I’ll work, work, work. I will miss the day I’m not competitive; that feeling of holing a seven-footer to win. I love that. The opportunity golf gives us, to say, ‘right, this is what I do, this is what I’m good at’. I love being in that position.”


Golfing ambitions still give Montgomerie a twinkle in the eye. As he sat in a hotel overlooking the Old Course, thoughts inevitably turned to the 2021 Open at St Andrews.

Monty has not played in the game’s oldest major since Troon in 2016. The 150th staging of the championship in two years’ time, however, is a party Montgomerie doesn’t want to miss.

“If I could play one more Open, it would be here,” he said. “All the stars would have to align for me to qualify but I can do it.

“And the Old Course is a place I can just about manage as opposed to some of these courses where you are walking back and back to the tee thinking ‘bloody hell, where am I going?”

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The debate about cherished old venues becoming obsolete, or at least being stretched to their limits and beyond to combat golf’s modern-day bombers, rumbles on while arguments over a limited-distance ball can just about spark off scenes akin to the revolt of the Luddites.

“No sport has gone backwards,” said Monty. “World records are beaten all the time in athletics, tennis is a different game from the Borg and McEnroe era. Look how quick football is now to what it was.

“They are quicker and stronger in rugby, cricket is faster. Every sport has changed. People want to do things bigger and better. If you give us a golf ball that’s going 80, 90 per cent of what it did, players will just hit it harder. And then we’re back to square one.

“But the Old Course is very much in danger. There are too many holes, without wind, that you can drive. You can’t have courses where you are driving five holes. Something has to happen or else this course will be a museum piece.”

*Colin Montgomerie is an ambassador for Loch Lomond Whiskies, the Official Spirit of The Open. Purchase the Open Special Edition single malt at www.lochlomondwhiskies.com/buy-online