Colin Montgomerie has confirmed that the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex will be his “number one target” in 2017 after making a successful return from a serious ankle injury earlier this month.
The 53-year-old Scot suffered torn ligaments in his left ankle after slipping on a flight of stairs in February, and didn’t make another competitive appearance until the first week of May. However, three months of frustrating inactivity have only served to sharpen Montgomerie’s appetite for his fifth appearance in the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl in Wales from July 27-30.
Top of the agenda is the Senior Claret Jug which has so far eluded him. In 2014, when the Championship was hosted by Royal Porthcawl for the first time, Montgomerie shot five under par – but finished runner-up, an astonishing 13 strokes behind record-breaking champion, Bernhard Langer. Now, the eight-time European Tour Number One wants to reverse the placings.
He joked: “I won the ‘other’ championship by three shots. I thought I had done extremely well to shoot five under and was waiting to receive the trophy. Unfortunately they handed it to Bernhard, not me!
“Seriously, I honestly don’t think we will see the like of those four rounds by Bernhard again. That was one of the great performances. The only shame is that the world’s top 50 golfers weren’t in attendance because I reckon he’d have beaten them all. I really do think that. I think it was the best performance of golf in 2014. It was absolutely amazing what he did.”
Since turning 50 in June 2013, Montgomerie has claimed three Senior Majors in the United States, but the Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex remains infuriatingly elusive. As well as his second place finish behind Langer at Royal Porthcawl in 2014, he had an opportunity to win at Sunningdale the following year but had to settle for third behind American Marco Dawson.
He added: “It really is a fabulous event, and having been second in The Open at St Andrews and second in the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl, I would love to go one better. It is right on my radar – my number one target and the most important event on my calendar – and I am looking forward to it.”
The challenges posed by Royal Porthcawl were completely unknown to Montgomerie when he visited the classic Welsh links in 2014, but he left feeling deeply impressed. He said: “I went there with a very open mind and I was taken aback at how undulating it was for a links course and how good it was. I was very, very impressed.
“It is a very solid golf course and one you have to be extremely careful of, and that’s why the score of Langer in very tricky conditions - dry and bouncy – was so good. You can get the odd lucky bounce, but you can’t be lucky for four days. I enjoyed playing it. It was a course full of character and I put it in the same category as Turnberry and Royal Birkdale. Let’s also hope the weather plays its part again.”
Welsh Government Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, said: “ 2017 is Wales’ Year of Legends - I’m delighted that we’re looking at welcoming back some of the golfing world’s biggest legends to Royal Porthcawl this summer.”
An all-star line-up of Senior golfing legends will assemble at Royal Porthcawl, with former Ryder Cup captains such as Langer and Montgomerie being joined by a host of Major winners from the past 40 years, including Tom Watson, Ian Woosnam, John Daly, José Maria Olazábal and Fred Couples.
See that amazing array of talent take to the fairways of Royal Porthcawl for the 2017 Senior Open Championship along with defending champion Paul Broadhurst and Senior ‘rookies’ Phillip Price of Wales and Ireland’s Paul McGinley.
Tickets are on sale now and hospitality packages are also available. Under-16s are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
For tickets and more information, visit www.senioropenchampionship.com or call +44 (0) 800 023 2557.