Aug 26 2011 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
COLIN Montgomerie insists he’s not teeing-up at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles content to play an ambassadorial role.
The tournament chairman admitted his preparations for the event just a few miles from his Dunning home marks the end of his longest ever spell without tournament golf.
Monty has exercised little more than his vocal chords as a Sky Sports commentator at The Open and the USPGA.
But yesterday he was back participating in a £1.4 million star-studded European Tour event.
While fellow Scot Paul Lawrie limbered-up with a 92-mile hike along the West Highland Way, Monty was spending hours on the range and on the putting green in the wake of the deluge at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
He declared: “I have been practising a lot and my putting is a lot better. I was going okay at Castle Stuart and was 11 under at one stage. If I can putt well and keep the ball in play I have a chance.”
Monty, who was eager to flag-up the first-ever “£5 Friday” at Gleneagles, was quizzed on plans for the mundane 18th hole on the 2014 Ryder Cup PGA Centenary Course.
Jack Nicklaus and his team have been charged with the final tweaks to the course in advance of 2014.
But the Celtic Manor winning captain has played down the 18th’s importance.
He said: “Only three of 12 games went down the 18th at Celtic Manor so it isn’t a hole that is used an awful lot.
“I’m not privy to plans for the 18th. It’s not one of the greatest strengths of the golf course but it is a potentially reachable par five and things can happen at that hole. Look at Molinari and all the drama last year.”
The Johnnie Walker event got under way yesterday and reaches a climax on Sunday.
Today, Gleneagles welcomed spectators for a fiver and the revenue will be donated to clubgolf, Scotland’s junior golf development programme.
Monty said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for Scottish golf spectators and credit goes to The Johnnie Walker Championship for dreaming up this opportunity.”