Montgomerie is making his sixth start of the year on the PGA Tour in this weeks Players Championship. He hasnt had much success thus far, missing three cuts and losing in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, but he feels encouraged by his play in last weeks Bay Hill Invitational.
There was a temptation to miss last week actually and cut my losses and say forget it and well go home and come back for these three weeks. But then I decided, okay, thats the easy way out, and I think Ill continue and play and Im so glad I did, said Montgomerie, who tied for 31st at Bay Hill.
Montgomerie's next three weeks in the U.S. will be made even more pleasant with the arrival of his wife and children. They flew into Orlando on Wednesday, where he drove down to pick them up.
Montgomerie started his Stateside stretch at the Nissan Open after taking a 10-week hiatus. He said it has taken a while to round into form and get adjusted to his new Ben Hogan equipment.
I felt I could come out and compete and I havent as well as I thought I would, he said.
The seven-time European Tour Order of Merit (money list) champion has high hopes of finally posting a sub-70 round this week. He loves the TPC at Sawgrass layout, where he has four top-10 finishes in nine prior starts.
It plays into my hands, he said of the Stadium Course. I think I drive the ball particularly straight and I have quite some good control with the distance of the iron shots. Its very exacting as a golf course, and I think that thats what I tend to play, so I look forward to it every year.
Despite having won 26 times on his native tour, Montgomerie has never hoisted a trophy on this circuit. He said late last year that if he ever won a big event, such as a major, he would consider retiring. Might he if he won this week?
Id like to try and defend here. That would be good, he quipped. It depends how I feel when and if I ever win, so well see.
Montgomerie has never played in more than five regular PGA Tour events ' not counting majors and WGC events ' in a season. But thus far this year, the only tournament hes played that counts towards his European Tour record is the Match Play. And even more surprising, hes actually enjoying the American experience.
I think I have more respect after the Ryder Cup, or I think the last three Ryder Cups. I have more respect from the crowd than I had before, which has been encouraging, he said, adding that he doesnt regret playing more in the U.S before.
You always look back and think, you know, possibly or whatever, but I dont generally regret my decision not to play over here full-time, no. I dont think its hurt my career.
Montgomerie is trying to fine-tune his game in time for the Masters, in two weeks. He played a mini practice round at Augusta National on Monday with some friends.
It was good. The first time I played the course out of tournament conditions, he said.
Winning a major is at the top of Montgomeries priority list, but, overall, the goals are still similar to when he was regarded as the best player in Europe.
Ive always wanted to try and keep in the top 10 in the world, said Montgomerie, who is currently ranked 16th.
Hopefully, I can play better for the rest of the year and get back into the top 10 at the end of the year, and if I do do that then everything else takes care of itself.