Colin Montgomerie has learnt to love the USA – to such an extent that he has been to 46 of America's fifty States, and is determined to complete the set in the coming months.
Along the way Montgomerie has visited some of America's most iconic landmarks, such as the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore. He has even stood in the Oval Office at the White House. And among the more offbeat stops on Monty's American Adventure have been visits to Southfork – setting for the TV series Dallas, a monster hit in the 1970s and 1980s – and a recreation of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
"That was possibly my favourite thing so far," Monty says. "Just the name of the place, 'Tombstone in Arizona', conjures up such vivid images. And the way they stage it is just brilliant. They do it twice a day, you know. You really must go.
"Southfork was excellent too. I remember back in the day we would all watch Dallas as a family and we spent hours trying to work out who shot JR Ewing. I think the whole nation did. The Grand Canyon was breathtaking, and so was Yellowstone Park, and Sedona National Park with its famous red rocks. There is just so much to see in America."
Hang on. Is this the same Colin Montgomerie who had a long career as the man American golf fans loved to hate, who played as few events as possible in the USA, and who famously refused to join the PGA Tour even when he was at the height of his powers?
That last decision probably cost Montgomerie the chance of ever becoming world No.1 – he 'only' got to number two, just like Phil Mickelson – but there are no regrets. He added: "Looking back, I probably should have played in America more. But there were the odd problems with the crowds getting on to me and I was never the most enthusiastic flier. I'm still like that.
"But when I joined the Champions Tour, and won my three senior Majors, I was made to feel so welcome that I felt I really had to try to embrace America more. When I was on the European Tour, playing in America meant you saw only three things: the airport, the hotel, and the golf course. And I thought come on, it's about time I branched out a wee bit more than that, and tried to enjoy what America has to offer.
"This will be my tenth year on the Champions Tour, and it is far more relaxed – but still highly competitive – and I've loved every minute. I really got the travel bug just after the first lockdown was lifted two years ago. I was travelling with Sarah (Casey), my manager who of course is also my partner now, and our rental car was our haven for six to eight weeks.
"As we planned out our route to different events Sarah and I began to look out for things to do along the way, or famous sights that wouldn't involve too much of a diversion. We've continued to do that, and we've seen so much. I enjoyed Graceland, even though I wasn't particularly an Elvis fan – Abba are more up my street – and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
"We also went to Cape Canaveral, and to NASA mission control in Houston. You know Americans tend to talk about these places with great fondness, but many of them haven't actually been to them. They tend to fly over them.
"I wanted to make the most of the ten years between 50 and 60 on the Champions Tour, and to embrace the country for the first time. I have now been to 46 States. I can tell you the ones I'm missing and they don't include Alaska or Hawaii, as most people might think. I've been to both of them. Loved them.
"The ones I haven't been to are places where they don't really play championship golf: Montana, Maine, North Dakota, and hell, what's the fourth one? It’s not as obvious as the others. Oh yes, Oregon, and from all the great things I hear about the Bandon Dunes golf complex there, I have to tick that off soon. Maybe a stop-off if we're playing in San Francisco or somewhere else in northern California."
Staying in Houston meant a sentimental return for Monty. He went to college there before returning to dominate the European Tour, winning eight Order of Merit titles, including seven in a row, from 1993 to 1999.
He added: "We also decided to give American sports a try, and Houston Astros was the obvious place to go for baseball. That was a wee bit boring for Sarah, but she enjoyed watching basketball at Orlando Magic and the Carolina Panthers American Football because they were a bit more fast-paced.
"We haven't done the ice hockey yet, and that's one I'd love to see. All action, and very noisy. And it's nice when the loud stuff isn't directed at me!"
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David brings a wealth of experience to Golf Monthly as a freelance contributor having spent more than two decades covering the game as The Sun's golf correspondent. Prior to that, he worked as a sports reporter for the Daily Mail. David has covered the last 12 Ryder Cups and every Masters tournament since 1999. A popular and highly-respected name in the press tents around the world, David has built close relationships with many of the game's leading players and officials.
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