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July 9, 2014

Colin Montgomerie


THE MODERATOR: Welcome back. 35th U.S. Senior Open Championship here at Oak Tree National. We are very happy to be joined by 31-time winner on the European Tour, Colin Montgomery; eight-time winner of the Order of Merit; and a 2000 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.


THE MODERATOR: You've had three top 10s last year in the Champions Tour in ten starts. This year you made it into the winner's circle for the first time in America, the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores. 6-under 65 in the final round for a four-stroke victory. Talk a little bit about that and the fact that you were able to finally get in that winner's circle in America after so many close calls.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean, in Britain we call that an overnight success, 22 years of trying (smiling). It was a delight to finally win the 72-hole stroke play event in the States. I have won match play events but never a stroke play event. So delighted to do that. And especially when you see the top four that week, Bernhard Langer and Jay Haas and Tom Watson, when you see these guys just behind you, it makes it ever more meaningful when you do happen to win such a big event as that, as our US PGA seniors, and coming here gives me more confidence knowing it's been done before, so it can be done again. I look forward, so much look forward to the 35th U.S. Senior Open. And I have come close, as did I in the US PGA, I came close there, and I have come close in your own U.S. Open, and I'd love to try and go one better than I have done before. So we'll see.

THE MODERATOR: You're playing your second U.S. Senior Open at 51, but you have had great success in the U.S. Open with so many close calls, three runner-up finishes, five top 10s. For the USGA Championship setup, what kind of confidence can you take over from your U.S. Open success to the Senior Open?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I must admit I think this course would stand the test of the, what I would say, the junior tour out there. This is a fantastic golf course and set up very, very well, I believe, by the USGA and their staff. I think the course is set up brilliantly. A bit more room for us seniors off the tee, and yet this course is all to do with the green work, the second shots in there. So it tests every part of the game. It tests your driving. You've got to put it on the fairway. It tests the second-shot accuracy and your shot selection and also shot selection around the greens. There is a lot of runoffs, a slot of steep runoffs here. Chipping could be quite difficult. And the greens are exceptional quality despite the hot weather you have here. So all in all, I think it's a great test of golf and one that could stand, as I say, the test of time. If you ever decide to bring the U.S. Open back here, or here, it would really stand the test. This is a great, great golf course.

THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up to questions.

Q. I have two questions. One, how much familiarity with Oak Tree before this week? You ever play here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't. No, the only time I've played in Oklahoma was at Southern Hills in Tulsa, twice for the US PGA but never here in Edmond. I have never been here before. This is my first time, and I'm very impressed with the whole setup, very impressed.

Q. A follow-up question is talk a little bit about Bernhard Langer. When you say who is the guy to beat this week, he is the first name to come out of everybody's mouth. Talk about his game and where he's at right now.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I have known Bernhard Langer many, many years, a lot more than most people in this room. I have started playing against him what, 30 years ago. He hasn't changed. He hasn't changed at all. That's a compliment to say that over the 30 years. He's as good as the German football team are (laughter), which is ridiculously good. Clinically I'd say the football team are; so is Bernhard Langer. Very well prepared; so is Bernhard Langer, fit as he is. All in all, we have someone there that we should be very proud of and someone who is dominating the tour right now, someone that, I mean, I hate to say at 57 to raise new standards, but that's what he's doing. It's fantastic to see that someone can actually, in my book, improve over 50. There is very few guys in the world that can improve over 40. Bernhard Langer appears to be improving over 50. That's a real compliment to say. So of course he's the guy to beat. We'll look forward to it. But at the same time there is a number of great competitors here. This is the strongest field for a number of years that I believe we have had here at the U.S. Senior Open with the likes of Scott Verplank turning 50 today and then Vijay Singh joining us. Just a shame that Freddie Couples is injured, I still believe. But at the same time you have a fantastic field here on a course that deserves a good field. It will be a great winner here, I'm sure.

Q. Not only that you won at Benton Harbor but how you won, turning back, as you said, among others, Watson and Langer. How much confidence does that give you, the way you won?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yes, there is winning and there is, you know, just scraping home by a couple of bogeys in the last couple of holes to win by one sort of thing. No, it wasn't like that. It really felt like it was when I was playing in the '90s when I was No. 2 in the world. It was exciting to feel that I was playing that way again and I can still play that way again. Okay, the course was slightly shorter, but the same sort of irons were coming into the pins and holing the putts. It was exciting to feel that. If I can get that, if I can get that feeling back again here, obviously I have an opportunity of doing the same thing. So I look forward to competing in every Champions Tour event, especially the majors here of which we have one of them. I do believe the three majors, you know, where we have 156 field and there is a cut, the three majors stand alone, the US PGA, the U.S. Senior Open, and of course the Open, the Senior Open itself in a couple of weeks' time. Those three majors stand alone. So these are the big ones for the year.

Q. First of all, by the way, nice to have you here. Congratulations on your win at the Senior PGA. Only four other men have won the Senior PGA and then come back and won the U.S. Senior Open: Gary Player, Hale Irwin, Jack Nicklaus. I wonder your thoughts on that kind of a challenge of trying to do the double like that.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. Well, I mean, you know, you spring out some names there and obviously to win major championships is very difficult. It doesn't matter whether you're senior or a junior at the same time. So I just look forward to trying to emulate those great champions and if possible, but at the same time it's difficult. And it should be difficult. I'm looking forward to the difficulty of it. This is a difficult golf course against difficult competition in difficult conditions. It won't be cool over the weekend. We have had our cool day here. I have managed to get out this morning first off at 10:00, and everyone says, Oh, you have done the right thing there, because you tend to forget not just the quality of golf course, the quality of field you will come up against, but also the overhead conditions. I hear Saturday/Sunday is going to be over 100 degrees here. That's without humidity. That's without the heat index. It's going to be bloody hot. That's another thing that the winner has to overcome is the overhead conditions. So I'm just delighted that I'm so fit and so healthy and looking forward to going (smiling).

Q. As a follow-up, competing this week in a Senior Open, your play career in the U.S. Open was quite good, and I'm just wondering, what were the elements that made you a good U.S. Open player?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A bit like trying to get 'round here really. I drove the ball particularly well in those days. I did hit the fairways. That was my key thought. And that's what I did probably better than most people in those runs of good U.S. Open finishes. The same applies here. The winner here will be hitting the fairways, there is no question. You can get close to the greens out of the rough. You would be running over them and around them, and chipping and putting is particularly difficult here. You have to start by hitting the fairways and that's key. So that's what was key in my game and still remains that way.

Q. Obviously you have had so much success in the Ryder Cup. What does it mean to you to be a Ryder Cup captain this year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, right, well, I was the captain in 2010. I have actually nothing to do with the Ryder Cup this particular year. It's all to do with Paul McGinley. He's coming up against Tom Watson, and we wish both captains the best of fortune. It's going to be very close, of course. They all are. I look forward to being there. I will be there. I live at Gleneagles, about three miles away. I look forward to getting up to the club and having a view around. I will go back home and watch it probably on television. It's the safest place to be. You see more, anyway, you know?

Q. The Ryder Cup, it's just grown so much the last 20, 30 years and just your success, it's what you're legendary for. What are your memories? What are you going to take away from all those Ryder Cups, away from just playing stroke play in tournaments like this?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yeah, it is a very different event and it's great to be part of a team. It's one competition really that I have always felt that the Champions Tour lacks really is a match play event. I would love to see the top 64 or even if it gets to that stage the top 128 to compete in a match play event. I think it would be super as opposed to doing the same grind of either 54 holes or 72. Wouldn't it be great to have a match play event, something different? As we do on the main tour with the world match play now in Arizona, and, you know, it always springs the odd surprise, but that's match play. 18 holes is very quick. You've got to get off to a good start and hold on. But it would be super to have a match play event here in America on the Champions Tour. I'd love to be part of that if that ever comes around.

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