Aug 23 2011 Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
Monty gives young Ian a shot at glory
COLIN Montgomerie warmed-up for this week’s eagerly-awaited Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles with a coaching clinic near his Strathearn home.
And former King James VI starlet Ian Redford has revealed the winning Ryder Cup skipper has opened the door to the European Tour stage for him.
Redford, at 18, will be the youngest pro teeing-up at Gleneagles this week, after being handed one of tournament chief Monty’s wild card entries.
The former Scottish U16 champion and rookie professional, son of former Rangers and St Johnstone footballer Ian senior, from Errol, now plays out of the New Club in St Andrews.
En route to a practice round over the PGA Centenary Course, Ian told PA Sport: “I am excited and a bit nervous too. I’m really looking forward to my biggest golf event to date.
“It has been in my diary for about nine months. It all came about through a meeting with Colin. He had five invitations for the Johnnie Walker and he gave me one.”
Ian, who has been playing on the EuroPro this season, has teed-up as an amateur in the Dunhill in the past with Swedes Johan Edfors and Magnus Karlsson.
He admits this is a sterner examination but at least Ian is familiar with the PGA Centenary Course.
“I played scratch league finals there for King James VI and I probably played my first round over the course at the age of 10. I was also at Gleneagles a lot with the Perth and Kinross County U16s.
“The Dunhill was a great experience but this is my biggest tournament yet.”
Montgomerie, meanwhile, returned to nine-hole Dunning Golf Club on Saturday to provide a few pointers to local players during a fundraiser for the course and the Elizabeth Montgomerie Cancer Foundation.
But with the European Tour he has topped a record-breaking eight times rolling into Perthshire, the 48-year-old will be determined to turn back the clock and show he can still cut it with several of his Celtic Manor team.
Fans making for Gleneagles will be intrigued by the joust looming between the Molinari brothers, with Edoardo back to defend his 2010 title – which secured his own passport into the Ryder Cup – and sibling Francesco.
The 156-strong field includes players congregating on the PGA Centenary Course for a tournament running from Thursday through to Sunday who have amassed more than 220 titles between them.
Montgomerie, who has been nursing an achilles injury in recent weeks, is eager to make his mark on home soil in the event’s 10th anniversary and claw his way back into contention in the Race to Dubai.
He said: “I’m currently 92nd in the European Tour Race to Dubai and want to make it into the season-ending event so need a good finish in front of my home fans to move back into the top 60 of the rankings.”
Joining the Scot will be two of his victorious vice captains in Wales, Thomas Björn and Paul McGinley, as well as his successor José María Olazábal, who will be keeping a close eye on the leader board.
And there are plenty of Scots for the galleries to track, with Stephen Gallacher, Paul Lawrie, Marc Warren and Richie Ramsay among them.
Perthshire-based Graeme Marchbank, head of corporate sponsorship with Diageo, said: “We are really looking forward to this year’s Championship especially as we have one eye on 2014 as we are now the next European venue for the Ryder Cup.”
The Gleneagles Hotel is one of the strongest supporters of golf in Scotland and it has introduced a ‘£5 Friday’ for the event. Gleneagles will donate all the revenue from on-the-day ticket sales to clubgolf – Scotland’s junior golf development programme.
Tickets are available at the course and at www.europeantourtickets.com.