Two decades, 20 years, 240 months, 7,300 odd days? Whatever way you break it down, it’s a wee while ago now. “Is it 20 years since my first tour win?,” said Andrew Coltart when reminded of the anniversary of his breakthrough conquest on the European circuit in Qatar back in 1998. “I sound like a right old git.”

With his 48th birthday looming in May, Coltart is hardly ready for the bus pass and cut-price meals at the day centre just yet but becoming a senior citizen of the golfing scene is something he is certainly not pondering. “I have absolutely no inkling of returning to play on the Senior Tour or competitive golf in any shape or form,” said the former Ryder Cup player who has carved out a nice career as a shrewd and knowledgeable television analyst among other things. “I love the odd game, that never leaves you and I do miss the competitive aspect. But that was part of my problem towards the end of my playing days. Not being competitive and just making up a field is the worst thing. That was just hellish.”

In 2012, Coltart officially retired from the tour, his strengths of shot-making being superseded by, well, pure strength as the crash, bang, wallop era of one dimensional golf left him wheezing on in the margins. “At that time, I had invested a lot of time and money on a coaching programme to improve but I regressed ten-fold and it was all very disillusioning,” he reflected. “I remember being at an event in Portugal and I got to a par-5 and I couldn’t carry it onto the fairway. I asked the tournament director ‘why does the fairway start 250 yards off the tee?’ and he just said ‘what’s wrong with that?’. That p***ed me off. What they were essentially saying was that unless you were a long hitter you were not a good player. I disputed that, I always have done. Anyone who can do something with a golf ball, who knows where it is going rather than how far it is going is just as good a golfer as someone who thunders it miles. Unfortunately with the ball and technology and the way they are setting up courses, this is not what they want it seems. It’s getting ridiculous. If the ball is going so far and they don’t have to hit as many shots in between, why is it still taking so long to play? Something is wrong. You have to look at what golf itself is doing to the game.”

Despite his grievances about the impact of technology, the game of golf was good to Coltart, particularly in those profitable years of the 1990s when he progressed from Scottish PGA champion in 1994, to a double Australian PGA winner in 1994 and 1997, a fully blown European Tour champion in 1998 and a Ryder Cup player in 1999. The boy from Dumfries certainly made a name for himself in the tough school of professional sport.

“I remember sitting an O Grade exam and looking at the paper and thinking ‘god, what I would give to have a tour card for one year’,” he said of those early years of golfing wanderlust. “I managed 18 years of it so I was fortunate. I always understood you had to stick in at school, to have something in case things didn’t work out with the golf. Of course, I had teachers who said I’ll never make it in golf. I never liked that but it probably did me the world of good. I got it all, ‘you’ll never make it as a golfer’ or ‘it happens once in a blue moon’ and ‘it’s not worth continuing with this’. I went to work with the PGA and the club pro said the same thing. But I was a stubborn bugger anyway and it spurred me on.”

As one of seven rookies in the infamous Battle of Brookline at the 1999 Ryder Cup, Coltart was only thrust into action during the final day singles as the US surged back from 10-6 down to win a rambunctious affair by a single point. "It was bittersweet in some ways,” said Coltart. “Had that point gone the other way and we walked out as winners, our captain (Mark James) would have been hailed as one of the great captains.”

Coltart had the daunting task of playing Tiger Woods, who was on his way to global domination having just won the second of what would be 14 major titles a few weeks before the Ryder Cup. “Over four rounds, Tiger was impossible to beat,” said Coltart. “But in matchplay? You can’t forget that everyone who plays in the Ryder Cup is a bloody good player and if you can start rolling in the putts you can take anyone down. It didn’t work out for me. He took three holes off me which wasn’t bad and I lost 3 and 2. But I had the experience of going head-to-head with him when he was the best in the world.”

In 2018, there will be more twists in the Tiger tale as the former world No 1 embarks on yet another comeback.

“I hope he gets 12 months at least and he can be semi-competitive,” said Coltart. “But I don’t think we’ll see Tiger win another major. In the late 1990s and early 2000s when I was around he was unstoppable and he believed that. Subsequently he’s proved to be fallible and that affects your psyche and affects how you are perceived by your peers."