Oscar Wilde wrote, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”
It’s an adage the finest players on the European Senior Tour may not be aware of, but might ponder because they are all aware that late in their career they are being rewarded on the course for the many years of hard work that has gone before.
When I asked Colin Montgomerie to determine the difference between his prime and today he was open and forthright, although initially he joked: “Hang on, I’ve forgotten the question … that’s not a good sign, is it?”
More seriously he added, “I think we all relax more. I’m definitely more relaxed now than I’ve ever been. We’ve all been successful and have nothing to prove, so we relax and enjoy it. And you know what? You tend to do something better if you enjoy it.”
Of course Montgomerie had a stunning career which needs little polishing on the senior tours. He won 31 times on the European Tour (only three men have won more), represented Europe eight times in the Ryder Cup and won it as captain in 2010.
He nods when I ask him to discuss about the narrow margin between victory and close defeat.
“It’s a good question and one I have recent experience of at the AT&T Championship in San Antonio.
“What we, as golfers, all have to accept is that you lose a lot more than you win. If you win three times in a year that’s a great year, but you might have played 30 times so you lose quite a bit.
“At senior level I’ve seen a lot less fear of winning and yet there was a fear of winning on the main tour. No-one throws it away out here – we think: ‘We might as well just go and do it.’
“So the standard of play is very high because of that mentality. You can’t rely on others to make bogies, you’ve got to keep making birdies.”
“That’s what happened in San Antonio – I was two ahead with nine to play, played the back nine in level par and was overtaken by two men. Level par on these events is not good enough and it usually was on the main tour.”
David Frost understood Montgomerie’s point: “Definitely the players have lost that fear. I lost out to Russ Cochran recently – I had a lead with four holes to play, he birdied the last four holes and beat me by one shot!
“I also think that we don’t try so many things. When you’re young you try everything and it’s probably too much. When you get here, you use what got you here.”
Denmark’s Steen Tinning agrees: “You stop trying to be a world champion and you understand your limits.
“And once you are in the zone you keep going on the back nine. But it’s a long process which some of us just had to go through that. It takes a lot of years to gain that experience and I needed that time. Now I have it and I felt comfortable in contention this year.”
The stats back the Dane’s claims up – twice this year he held the lead with 18 holes to play and twice he converted the win.
Like the Montgomerie family, the Tinnings are enjoying the beach and all the facilities at Constance Belle Mare Plage this week. Both are hoping to put their lack of fear into practice if they are in contention come the final round on Sunday.
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- Keep up to date with all the news for the MCB Tour Championship
- Learn more about golf at Constance Hotels and Resorts
- More from Matt Cooper on Twitter @MattCooperGolf or visit the blog Curious About Golf