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Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Thursday, 8 July 2010 09:28 UK

Colin Montgomerie foresees better times for Scots

Barclays Scottish Open, Loch Lomond, 8-11 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Radio Scotland, with updates on BBC Radio 5 live Full coverage details

By Clive Lindsay
BBC Scotland at Loch Lomond

Scotland's Stephen Gallacher
Gallacher is the highest placed Scot in the Ryder Cup rankings

Colin Montgomerie predicts better times are on the horizon for Scottish golf.

USA-based Martin Laird is the highest ranked Scot in the world - at 116 - going into this week's Scottish Open, which precedes the Open.

"We just haven't shown the wins yet and the consistent top-five finishes, but that will come," said Montgomerie.

"There's potential in Scotland to come through. They just haven't yet. The standard on the European Tour is increasing and that includes Scotland."

The decline of Montgomerie's own game in recent seasons only served to highlight the lack of talent coming through with the potential to match the achievements of the eight-times European Order of Merit winner and former world number two.

"Marc Warren has not realised his potential yet at all," said the Scot. "I think he, of that young crop, has the best potential.

"But, at the same time, Stephen Gallacher has made some great scores and Paul Lawrie has been on the leaderboard a lot more than in the last five years and something is happening."

Sitting 33rd, one place ahead of Richie Ramsay, Gallacher is the highest-placed Scot in the European Ryder Cup Points List but a long way from making Montgomerie's team for the match against the USA in October.

In comparison, England have four players in the world's top 10 - Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey - while Nothern Ireland have Rory McIlroy at nine and Graeme McDowell at 13.

"I'm not worried about that at all," said Europe's captain, who faces the prospect of none of his countrymen making the team for Celtic Manor.

"I just wish that it would happen quickly so I could captain a Scot on the Ryder Cup team, I really do.

It's important that I can prove to myself that I can still play

Colin Montgomerie

"I think that would be fantastic, but the way things are looking, not at this stage, but there are some big tournaments to come yet."

Talking about the strength in depth of European golf, world number two Phil Mickelson did not rule out a Scottish winner at Loch Lomond or at next week's Open at St Andrews.

Indeed, he suggested that, at 47, Montgomerie still had it in him to win the major that has eluded him in an otherwise successful career.

Asked if he thought the American was being serious or just being polite, the Scot joked: "Let's hope he means it. And also, thanks for his politeness."

Without an Open title to his name and with his own ranking having plummeted, Montgomerie had been forced to qualify, coming through with a 62 that matched the course record at Sunningdale New.

"If I can produce what I did on the New Course at Sunningdale, unfortunately St Andrews will be slightly tougher," he said of his chances this week and next.

"But, at the same time, there's people older than me what have won tournaments in Europe. I'm just delighted to see that I can still produce those scores and compete.

"These are two very big weeks, they always have been for me in my career - the Scottish Open, followed by the British Open, especially when it's in Scotland and especially when it's at St Andrews.

"I played 20 Opens in a row and this will be my 21st. Not having won the Open, to get an exemption, you have to find a way of qualifying and to find a way 21 times in a row isn't bad."

Montgomerie suggested that his score in qualifying not only maDE a point to others but to himself.

"It's important that I can prove to myself that I can still play," he said.

"It has given me confidence. If I can get off to a decent start, I think that we can not just compete in the tournament but hopefully contend and that's the aim for the next two weeks."

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see also
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
Loch Lomond the bridesmaid
07 Jul 10 |  Golf
Mickelson plays down ranking race
07 Jul 10 |  Golf
Montgomerie hails Euro strength
07 Jul 10 |  Golf
Laird eager for home soil victory
06 Jul 10 |  Golf

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