By Tony Jimenez
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Colin Montgomerie will become the seventh golfer to play in 600 European Tour events when he competes in the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open that starts on Thursday.
The eight-times order of merit winner will reach the landmark at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Antalya, a course he designed.
"It's a fantastic milestone," the 51-year-old Scot told reporters on Wednesday. "It's also an awful long walk.
"I think Barry Lane worked out that over the course of 600 tournaments you'd walk the whole way round the world and then on to Singapore. That's an achievement in itself."
Montgomerie joins English trio Lane (684), Malcolm Mackenzie (605) and Roger Chapman (619), fellow Scot Sam Torrance (706), Miguel Angel Jimenez (641) of Spain and Irishman Eamonn Darcy (610) in reaching 600 competitive outings on the tour.
"It's been some journey so far and I'm still really enjoying it," said the triumphant 2010 Ryder Cup captain. "If I had my time over again I don't think I'd change too many things and I'm very proud of that because not too many people can say that.
"To have represented the European Tour, which is such a fantastic tour and has become like an extended family, for this length of time is an honour and a privilege and hopefully I've got a few years left in me yet.
"I still remember my first tournament and I'm sure I'll also remember my 600th for the rest of my life," said Montgomerie.
"To reach the landmark on a course I designed and at one of the premier events on the European Tour makes it even more special."
Montgomerie has won 31 times on the tour and is the only player to win the tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, three years in a row, from 1998-2000.
He topped the order of merit seven years in a row from 1993-99 and again for the eighth time in 2005.
Montgomerie is regarded as one of the best players never to have lifted one of golf's big four titles, although he won back-to-back majors on the Senior Tour this year in the U.S. PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.
(Editing by Stephen Wood)