New Delhi: Scottish golf legend Colin Montgomerie today minced no words in saying that the game has stagnated in Europe and America and its growth lies in the Asian continent.
In the capital to promote a golfing event, winner of eight European Tour Order of Merit titles Montgomerie said that Asia rose on the world map after South Korean pro YE Yang came from behind in the 2009 US PGA to beat Tiger Woods.
"Golf in America and Europe, I think, has stagnated in the last 10 years. The growth of the game in the world of golf is in Asia. I am not saying this because I am here but that is the truth. We have an Asian winner of a Major, YE Yang, who beat Tiger Woods in the PGA is a proof of that and we feel there is more to come. If it's more from India, great, if more from other parts of Asia, great," said Montgomerie after a hectic opening day of the Hero Cycles Golf Cup for youngsters at the Delhi Golf Club here.
The former World No.2, who slogged it out with around 50 school kids from all over India, not only played a round of golf apart from holding a half-an-hour coaching clinic but also wished the Indian golfers for the Asian Games challenge in Incheon.
"China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, India have all come up well. I see India are going to Korea to compete in the Asian Games and I wish them all the success. And it would be great to see an Indian champion, a real world champion. I possibly saw that this morning. Possibly I saw 5-6 champions there this morning," he said.
"I was very very impressed with the level and the standard of play this morning," said Montgomerie, who has won 31 European Tour events, the most by any British player.
The 51-year-old legend cared less for political correctness as he welcomed the mandate in Scotland that keeps the nation under the United Kingdom and also gave a big thumbs up for the Royal and Ancient golf club in St Andrews, Scotland for opening its doors to women, ending 260 years of male-only membership.
"Its nice not to need a new passport when I go home. I can use my United Kingdom passport and I am glad to do that. Although a very proud Scot, I am also proud to be a British. There was no reason to leave the union to be a proud Scot," he said.
"They had the vote yesterday to allow the women and that was great. It should have happened 150 years ago, never mind now. That was a yes vote for women and I also won a no vote for Scotland. So the yes and the no have both succeeded," he added with a smile.
Montgomerie, who won three consecutive Volvo PGA Championships at Wentworth Club between 1998 and 2000, also responded frankly to a query on the need of five Ryder Cup vice-captains for Team Europe.
"Five vice-captains is a lot but I think European skipper Paul McGinley would like to have more opinion and more advice from there. I had five vice-captains when I was captain so he has done the same and I see no problem with it. The more the merrier," he opined. Not one to be bogged down by the Delhi heat, Montgomerie patiently spoke to the young aspiring golfers and gave his tips about the game and success. He was also impressed with the level of available talent.
"You have to have the passion and you have to have the desire. I saw that in the questions that the young children were asking and the passion and desire was there to succeed. Everybody wants to further their lifestyle and improve their ability to have a great life," he said.
"I think it was fantastic to see and witness that first hand. You forget that you play golf in Britain and America, but there is a lot happening in Asia as well," he added.
Pankaj Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Cycles, said, "We believe in promoting sports and fitness among youngsters. Keeping the growth of junior golf in mind, we have conceptualised the Hero Cycles Golf Cup and we are delighted that juniors have travelled to play from all across India."
"It's great to have a legend like Colin Montgomerie on board. Its just the first year, ofcourse with one more day to go, we have planned for another two years. Hopefully this will give the young golfers the ideal start to their careers," he added.