TROON, Scotland (AP) — Colin Montgomerie will set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, make the short trip in the dark to Royal Troon after the earliest breakfast he can remember, and prepare to welcome the golfing world to his family home.
In front of his 86-year-old father and many other family members, Montgomerie will hit the first shot of the 145th — and possibly his last — British Open at 6:35 a.m. and then walk the links course he calls his own.
“This is where I started playing,” Montgomerie said. “This is home.”
For the 53-year-old Scot, it will be like a trip down memory lane.
Montgomerie took his first golf shot on the children’s course at Troon, as a 6-year-old, and says his childhood home is five houses up from the club, on South Beach Road. He is now an honorary member, like his brother, and his father — James — is a past secretary and will soon be voted in as the club’s president.
“From our point of view, as a family, it’s great,” James Montgomerie, who has a 60-year association with Troon, told The Associated Press. “I’ll feel very proud, in the circumstances.”
The younger Montgomerie is playing in his first Open Championship in six years after getting through qualifying at nearby Glasgow Gailes last month. He has said he will not attempt to qualify again, so this could be his last shot at the claret jug.
The R&A, which organizes the British Open, chose to mark the occasion by offering Montgomerie the chance to hit the first shot of the tournament. He gladly accepted the honor.
“This wasn’t drawn out the hat,” he said, laughing.
The days of Montgomerie challenging for major championships appear long gone — except, of course, on the 50-and-over circuit where he has won three senior majors since 2014. He has finished in second place on five occasions at majors, including once at the British Open at St. Andrews in 2005 when he was five shots behind Tiger Woods.
Montgomerie said his goal for the week is simply to walk down the 18th fairway on Sunday, yet deep down there’s a sense that he thinks he could push the younger generation this week.
The former 2nd-ranked player and eight-time European No. 1 spoke at length Monday about the course’s storied par-3 8th hole — the so-called “Postage Stamp” — the typical wind directions, and the benefits of his old-fashioned swing that keeps the ball flight low and of teeing off early before worse weather strikes.
“Knowing my way around here and hitting the ball well off the tee and my irons into the greens, and knowing where to miss the shots, there’s no reason I can’t do well here,” Montgomerie said. “No, no reason at all.”