Monty: Gullane will be different ball game

Colin Montgomerie is a big fan of Gullane

Colin Montgomerie is a big fan of Gullane

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COLIN MONTGOMERIE is predicting a tough test for Rory McIlroy & Co in next year’s Scottish Open at Gullane.

It follows the eight-times European No.1 playing the East Lothian course himself last summer.

Monty teed up in a qualifier for The Open on Gullane No.1 but missed out on making it to Muirfield after rounds of 69 and 76.

The big Scot will be defending his US Senior Open crown when the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open takes place next July.

But he believes the new venue will provide a fitting test for the likes of McIlroy, who indicated that he’d almost certainly be there to warm up for his Open title defence at St Andrews the following week.

“I think Gullane is a super course,” Montgomerie told the Evening News. “I was very impressed with it when I tried to qualify for The Open there last year.”

The composite course will see the first, fourth and 17th holes on No.1 replaced by the fourth, fifth and 16th on No.2.

“I can see why they won’t be using the first as it’s a driveable par-4 and would cause problems with trying to get groups out at 11-minute intervals,” added Montgomerie.

“It’s quite right to start with a better par-4 than that one – I agree with that.” The long-time Scottish No.1 also offered his views on Stephen Gallacher’s hopes of making the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September. Gallacher stepped up his bid to make Paul McGinley’s team with two big performances back-to-back in the Scottish Open and The Open.

He closed with a course-record 63 at Royal Aberdeen to finish joint-fourth behind Justin Rose. Then, at Hoylake last Sunday in the Claret Jug joust, the Lothians star shared 15th – his best performance in a major.

That productive double shift has lifted Gallacher to tenth overall on the qualifying list – just one spot outside an automatic berth.

“He’s right on the cusp,” said Montgomerie, who played in eight Ryder Cups and also led Europe to victory at Celtic Manor in 2010.

“If he shows enough form and his 63 at the Scottish Open was a really good effort – then he would be a real benefit to the team as he knows Gleneagles and also to everyone involved in the event.

“I wanted a Welshman but didn’t have that opportunity. Paul McGinley has half an opportunity in Stephen Gallacher. If he wasn’t a rookie, he’d be a lot more confident in himself possibly.

“To pick a rookie is an unknown, not necessarily a risk, but Stephen is playing the golf of his life and I’d love to see him get in without getting picked.”