(Reuters) - Britain’s former world number two Colin Montgomerie repeatedly resisted the lure of the PGA Tour during his prime but now says he intends to compete full-time in the United States on the Champions Tour for players aged over 50.
The Scotsman, who won a record eight order of merit titles on the European Tour between 1993 and 2005, will be eligible for the senior circuit after his 50th birthday on June 23.
“I look forward now in many ways to starting a new life, a new chapter of my life to come over here now,” Montgomerie told reporters on Monday before he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida.
Montgomerie said he was often tempted at the idea of playing full-time in the United States and was even asked on numerous occasions by former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman and current head Tim Finchem to come over.
“Family commitments kept me in Europe. I was very happy and comfortable at home, and my wife and children were in school. I felt there was no need at that stage to come over here,” said Montgomerie.
“I was number one in Europe. I was very happy in Europe and I was comfortable in that position, and therefore I stayed there. If it’s not bust, you don’t fix it, and that was why I really didn’t come over here.”
Montgomerie became one of the first British golfers to attend a U.S. college, earning a degree in business management at Houston Baptist University in May 1987 before he decided to embark on a career as a playing professional.
However, he opted to leave the U.S. to play full-time on his home European Tour where he piled up 31 titles and clinched the order of merit crown for a record seven consecutive years from 1993-99.
“Seven in a row, that was something that I look back on and realize how special it was,” said Montgomerie, who also compiled a stellar record in the biennial Ryder Cup team competition where he never lost in eight singles matches.
“So I’m probably most proud of that. But I look back at my career and raising the Ryder Cup as captain in 2010, to regain the Ryder Cup from the victory that the States had in 2008, was a very proud moment.
“It’s funny because I never hit a golf shot that week. In terms of proud moments without hitting a ball, then it has to be raising the Ryder Cup.”
Known for his natural swing, an aversion to practice and a temperament that could be prickly at times, Montgomerie had one glaring omission from an otherwise glittering career resume - a failure to win a major title despite several close calls.
“I’ve enjoyed thoroughly my exploits in major championships,” said the 49-year-old Scot, who recorded five runner-up spots in the majors among a total of 10 top-10 finishes.
“I just haven’t been fortunate or whatever it takes, I’ve never, ever stood up and made a winner’s speech ... I never will.
“But I look forward to the Seniors Tour and trying to win them (majors) there. Gary Player counts them as majors, doesn’t he?” Montgomerie added with a broad grin.
South African Player has won nine major titles on the regular PGA Tour, and a further nine in the senior events.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue