Monty aims to reignite career in HK

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 October, 2010, 12:00am

Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie will return to play at next month's UBS Hong Kong Open, and is eagerly looking forward to getting back on a golf course without any responsibility other than a yearning to win again on the European Tour.

Having experienced the 'best moment of my career' as skipper of the successful European Ryder Cup team, Montgomerie wants to once again taste that winning feeling as a player, and believes the 'old- fashioned' Fanling course will give him the best possible chance to do so.

'I have won the Hong Kong Open before and I think this will be an opportunity to win a European Tour event again,' Montgomerie said. 'You have to work the ball at Fanling and this suits me more than the long, modern courses. This is a good old-fashioned members' course.'

Montgomerie, who was on a brief visit to town for an HSBC charity day supporting Unicef's universal primary education programme in Asia, said his role as Europe's Ryder Cup captain had impacted on his game for the past two years and he was looking to forward to competing again.

'Not just compete, but to contend, too. I won the Hong Kong Open in 2005, and I always look forward to playing here because I know I stand a chance. Yes, next month in Hong Kong could be an opportunity to win again,' Montgomerie said.

The euphoria following Europe's Ryder Cup win over the US at Celtic Manor seemed to still linger with the 47-year-old Scotsman, who was in a genial mood.

Although he last tasted victory on the European Tour in July 2007, he feels he still has what it takes to add to his 31 tour titles.

'I want to get back to the back-benches of European golf and win. I would love to win, and that would get me up the world rankings and start getting me back on to the scene.

'I haven't had a top-10 finish for two years and that's because of the Ryder Cup captaincy. It has taken up all my time and all my emotional effort has been based on that. Now that is over and I really want to get back and win again.

'If I can win within the next couple of years, that would be superb. Then I would have a record I would like to achieve - the oldest winner on the European Tour.'

The oldest winner accolade is held by Des Smyth, who won the Madeira Island Open at the age of 48 years and 34 days. Montgomerie has still some way to go, having only turned 47 in June. So even if he wins in Hong Kong next month, he would not quite be the oldest winner.

Montgomerie will be up against his Ryder Cup team heroes - Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy - at the November 18-21 tournament at the Hong Kong Golf Club, and they will have youth and form on their side.

But the Scot, who holds the record for the most Order of Merit titles on the European tour - eight - sounded confident that he would be able to turn the tide of time, and continue a love affair with Hong Kong which began with his first visit in 1984 for the Eisenhower Trophy.

'I just want to go out, try to relax and enjoy my golf and play well again,' Montgomerie said.

'I won my last Order of Merit on the European Tour in 2005 which gave me a 10-year exemption until 2015. So I have an exemption for another four years so hopefully there will be one or two opportunities to win.'