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July 23, 2014

Colin Montgomerie


STEVE TODD:  Congratulations on the two major championship victories.
STEVE TODD:  And going for the third this week.  Gary Player is the only one to have done it so far, so give us your thoughts on trying to get a bit of history this week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  You wait 23 years to win in America or win a major or whatever the case may be, and you wait 23 years for a bus and two turn up at the same time, you know, classic case.
I knew I had gained confidence from the first win.  I did play well at Benton Harbor in the U.S. Senior PGA and I did play well there, very well, and it gave me confidence to go into the U.S. Senior Open and perform there.  I didn't play as well there as I did at Benton Harbor, but the conditions were very severe conditions.  And I'm not saying the wind or rain; I'm talking heat, amazing.
So this is very different.  This is a whole different ballgame.  This is like coming from Roland Garros on the clay to the grass at Wimbledon.  This is very different and you have to adapt accordingly to the conditions.  This is fiery and this is a true links test of golf.  I'm just saying that because John Hopkins is sitting here and how great the whole place is.
But it is; this is the first time I've been west of Cardiff anywhere ever in my life and it's a delight.  The weather is great.  The golf course is in great condition, super test of golf, and everyone is excited by this championship here this year.
STEVE TODD:  It is Wales first senior major championship.  You made no secret in 2010 of how much the Welsh public took to you and how much they played in The Ryder Cup victory.  It would be nice to pay them back with a good performance this week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  It was worth a point.  The Welsh spectators were worth a point, and that's what it took to win.  I think it will be a very well supported championship this week, and we look forward to big crowds.  I have a particularly big group.  I've got to watch my P's and Q's tomorrow.  I'm playing with Tom Watson and Freddie Couples, so I'm looking forward to that personally and just staying ahead of them, I'll be doing well.
Yeah, everyone is excited here.  I think this is the first of many, hopefully, that we play here in Wales, and we all look forward to it.  Everyone is.
STEVE TODD:¬† And just a quick word on the course, you obviously played the Pro‑Am yesterday.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I think you get through the first five holes here.  I think the first five holes are particularly tricky.  The greens have a lot more contours in them than normal links greens do, especially the first five holes, and then you reach the sixth hole, the par5, which is playing downwind right now the way the wind is blowing this particular week.  So you feel you can get off from there. 
       But the first five holes are particularly tricky.  If you can play the first five holes in level, you've almost broken the back, and you have the odd opportunity from there that still there's potential disaster everywhere.  The eighth hole is a particularly good hole, a little hole that when they put the pin at the back as they are going to do, it tends to narrow up.
There's some great par 3s.  I think the 15th, as well, is a super par 3, just at an angle.  I think it's a very underrated and underplayed golf course, unfortunately, and we are graduate we're here to promote it and to put Royal Porthcawl very much on the map.
We've got to give the home ‑‑ on behalf of the members, John (laughter).

Q.  For the first ever, I'm almost lost for words.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Not like you, John.  Not like you.

Q.  Not like me.  It's not like me.  Can you explain what it is about your game that you are clearly doing so well at the moment?  Has there been one key that you turned this year to make a difference?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  If you look at the stats, and we look at stats more in America than we do in Britain here, and if you look at that, I was leading the putting stats on the Champions Tour for the first three months of this year.  I've never done that, ever.  My best putting stats when I was winning the Order of Merit, I think I was 30th one year.
That gives you huge confidence to stand on the next tee with freedom and confidence to hit the next shot if you're holing out properly.¬† Obviously I am.¬† So that's the main difference between success and failure is how many 7‑footers you can hole, the momentum putts, mainly.¬† The ones that you start off and you get a couple of birdies early on and you're left with a 7‑footer on the seventh, for instance, and that's the one that has to go in to maintain the round.
That momentum putt; the way that Tiger used to do that all the time to, make that round a 4‑under round as opposed to a level par one.¬† And it was the putt on the seventh or whatever hole it might have been.
And that's what I'm doing better now than I ever have, is holing out.  It's giving me confidence to go forward with every other shot, so that's the difference.

Q.  And driving?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I'd like to think so.  I'm trying to get another ten yards, and of course getting another ten yards is fine.  But of course it brings in inaccuracy from that.
So I wish I was driving the ball slightly straighter, but if I'm holing out, I'm okay.
If you're driving the ball straight around here and holing out, you're going to contend.¬† And that's my goal, and it's everyone's goal.¬† As I said at The Open, if Tiger can get within four of the lead on Sunday on Saturday night, that to me is in contention.¬† And it proved behind‑‑ I was four behind going into the Senior Open on the last day and I always felt that four shots, opportunity.¬† Outside that, you are pushing it, really, and it proved that at The Open with Rickie Fowler being six behind; it was just too much.¬† Four is gettable.¬† Six is a lot.
So my goal, along with another‑‑ all the contenders, is to be within four of the lead on Saturday night.¬† That's my goal the first two days.¬† If I can do that, I'll be quite happy.

Q.  Inaudible?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  You would think as a British player, I'm saying that before September; as a British competitor, it would somehow mean more, yes, yes.  If there's a championship that you'd like to win, you know, it was always the British Open, wasn't it.  It was always The Open Championship that one wanted to win.
But at 51, I can't afford to get picky, you know.  Anything that comes along my way I'll take, and this is no different.  And it would be great if it's in Wales.  Of course we had a lot of fun and excitement and success in Wales over the years of leading up to and during The Ryder Cup here four years ago, and would love to come back and try and repeat a victory actually playing, you know.  I've actually brought my clubs to Wales this time, as opposed to when I came down to The Ryder Cup, I didn't have any clubs in my car.  Weird.  Weird.
At least this time I crossed the Severn Bridge with clubs in the back of it, so delighted.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Well, my competition really, when you think about Bernhard Langer who is the best player on the Champions Tour, and all credit to him, he's 57; and Tom Watson is still playing great golf at 64.  You feel a slight advantage at 51 compared to that.  But at the same time, these guys are as competitive as ever, and are ready to play.  I mean, Tom Watson's score last week, 68, he's beaten Tiger Woods by seven shots the last day.  He is competitive as ever, and he's a guy to watch around here.  He hits the ball particularly great, and will not make the mental errors that some of them will out here, and he's one to watch.  He is.

Q.¬† You were saying the other day when we saw you that you felt sure that the senior players would be playing in The Ryder Cup in future years‑‑ a lot of young players‑‑ Rickie Fowler‑‑ do you think that's going to make it more difficult, a change over in the order of things?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† These guys are half our age, aren't they, 25‑year‑old and we're 51.¬† But at the same time, Jay Haas played at 51.¬† There's no reason why, I felt like Langer in his early 50s, even now; Langer and I in the foursomes would take a bit of beating,¬† you know.¬† I mean, we'd only play one match, you know.¬† We'd have to sit out the rest; we'd be knackered, but at the same time, we'd win that first game, you know.
So, yes, there's no reason why not.  Jiménez is right on the cusp of The Ryder Cup Team right now.  Great to see him here.  Why not?  If Tom Watson can do what he did at The Open in 2009 at 59 years old, there's no reason why we shouldn't be competing.  It's just at an Open venue, we have more opportunity for seniors golfers because of the running nature of a links course.  You have more opportunity to do well here than a softer, longer course, a la the Masters or something.
But then you go look at Bernhard Langer, seventh in the Masters and Jiménez finished fourth in the Masters, 50 years old; six Champions Tour players made the cut at the Masters, the most ever.
So yes, I agree with you, it's great to see the 25‑year‑olds coming through and there's a new generation coming through, great.¬† But don't forget, the guys at 50 can still play, believe me.¬† I've said that.¬† I've often said that when I'm interviewed in America about the standard of the Champions Tour, and it has surprised me.¬† It has surprised me greatly.¬† The standard and depth of quality on the Champions Tour is incredible.

Q.  You told us last week it's more than a year since you played a links course.  Is there time to readjust?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† It does indeed.¬† It is peculiar.¬† The strike of the ball is very different.¬† The wind is more of a factor on a links course than it is anywhere.¬† There's no protection from it.¬† There's no trees here to protect you.¬† You're open to the elements and it is very different, the way the ball pitches on the greens; is it going to stop; is it going to go forward; how much spin is it going to have; do you have an uphill lie, meaning a lot greater than you would in a normal, American‑style course.
So it does take a bit of getting used to.  I played yesterday.  Played okay yesterday.  Found where not to go and that's the main thing, and we look forward to tomorrow.

Q.  How many drivers would you envisage hitting out there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Oh, quite a lot.¬† There's a lot of 3‑irons and a lot of 3‑woods but out of the ten holes that we drive the ball‑‑ the 14 holes that we drive the ball on the golf course, I reckon I would use eight or nine drivers.¬† This isn't just a very solid golf course.¬† It's quite a long one, too, and especially into the wind, you have to use your driver.

Q.¬† Bob Torrance, you obviously know Bob well‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Yes, legendary iconic figure, and it was nice to see that black ribbons were put out there for the final round of the Open.  I called Sam and unfortunately obviously he had to withdraw here, but a legendary, iconic figure in the world of golf and he'll be sadly missed.

Q.  Do you have any particular favorite story of Bob?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I don't really.  Bob never really coached me or had many dealings with my particular golf game.  But I was around Bob on many ranges and many dinners and events and stuff, and he was a real character, a real character.
When Bob was talking at a table, you listened, you certainly did and he had some stories, believe me.  He'll be very sadly missed.  My heart goes out to Sam and his family, yeah.

Q.  Could you understand what he said?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Depends how late in the day it was, you know.  But at the same time, as I said, a real loss, a real loss.  He wasn't well.  He wasn't well the last few years and battled with his disease, but at the same time, as I say, Sam's a real personal friend of mine, and my heart goes out to him and June and all the Torrance family.

Q.  Four years ago, you were in the position that Paul McGinley is in now.  What do you think he's going through?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Well, now everything's forgotten about being a Ryder Cup Captain.  Now it's about winning and I was the same.  And now it's about putting a team and getting a team together to win.  There's no grey.  I've often said, there's no grey in The Ryder Cup.  It's very much black or white.  You win or you lose.
And however good a job you do and however good he's done to this stage; and he has done a marvelous job in his ambassadorial role as our European Tour leader these last couple of years, it's now all about winning.  And, can he win?  I would much rather be I think in Paul's shoes right now the way the Europeans are shining through in Martin and Rory gaining that huge confidence, and Justin Rose now.
Tom Watson's team is strong, don't get me wrong, and I think that Tom's‑‑ I would say that Tom Watson's ability in his way of dealing with people is exceptional, and I think that he'll get the best out of his team.¬† We've got two huge advantages playing at home.¬† One is of course our home crowd; what I said gave us a point advantage; and also, remembering that America needs 14 1/2 points and not 14, and that's how close it is.¬† That's as close as it is.
We needed 14 1/2 when I was captain and we had to get it back.¬† 14, that's how close it is.¬† So we've got two big advantages.¬† One, home‑course advantage and home crowd advantage, and we need 14 points.¬† And also, the huge advantage we have in the confidence, especially, of our two Major winners this year in Rory and in Martin and that gives the whole team a lift, as well.
Right now, possibly favorites, but hey, you know yourselves that it's going to be close.¬† You know that.¬† That first morning, you walk off two‑all, you think, okay, game on, fantastic.
And I look forward to personally being a golf fan and doing a bit for SKY Sports there, and I look forward to that and being at home, and I look forward as a golf fan to viewing and with anticipation to see what's going to happen.

Q.¬† You were captain, there was no detail you didn't want to know about, and I think I'm right in saying that you wore out two sets of walkie‑talkies Saturday afternoon.¬† Now that's your style of captaincy.¬† How does that different from Paul's?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Okay.¬† I think Paul will be quite similar that way.¬† I would think he would want to know everything.¬† I think some captains have been around and letting their players do what they have to do and their caddies, what‑have‑you.¬† I wanted to know everything.¬† I'm one of these people that has to know.
I think he'd be quite similar to that.  I don't think he would be around thinking, okay, well, how is that last group.  He'd want to know exactly what was going on at all times, and I think quite similar that way.
I learnt from past captains:  I learnt from Sam; I learnt from Bernhard Langer; I learnt from Ian Woosnam and a few other captains, and Bernard Gallacher, as well in, my time.
I'm sure Paul, whatever he's learned from me I'm not sure, but he's played under three captains himself and I'm sure he would have learned from them, too.  So you take a bit of goodness from every one of them and you try and put your own bit on it, but at the same time, I think that he's done a great job to this stage and I'm sure he will continue to do so.

Q.  Coming around to Tom Watson, would you agree that he has a very difficult decision to make re: Tiger?  Tiger has only two more tournaments to play I think.  Would you pick him at the moment?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Well, I don't want to speak for Tom obviously, it's his decision, but it is a difficult one.¬† All I can say is it's a very difficult one.¬† Can you go‑‑ I think Tom Watson's okay, if he leaves out Tiger and wins, he's okay.¬† If he leaves out Tiger and loses, he's not.¬† That's it in a nutshell, really.¬† Can you leave out Tiger Woods?¬† It seems unheard of that you could have a Ryder Cup before Tiger's 40 and he's fit and he's not playing.¬† Incredible.
But, you know, I can understand Tom's view that ‑‑ and he'll probably speak to you if he's coming in later on or whatever or has done already; and says, if he's not in the FedEx series, if he's not in the top 120; we talk about if he's in the Top‑20 he has a chance of getting picked, a Poulter type of scenario, Westwood, Donald, that type of idea.
If he's not in the top 120, wow, and he's not playing competitive golf in that FedEx series leading up to The Ryder Cup, you would find it difficult to justify his pick.  But you're not talking about any normal golfer here.  You're talking about Tiger Woods.
And I personally hope that Tiger is playing.  I think it's a bigger and better events when he is playing.  I think The Open had a certain uplift because he was there.  I know he didn't contend but he was there.  And I hope that he is playing at The Ryder Cup.  But that's not my deal.  And remember, the only time that America have won in the last six Ryder Cups is when Tiger wasn't playing, 2008.
So it is a very‑‑ you can see the scenario Tom Watson has; that leaving him out and winning's fine.¬† Leaving him out and losing isn't.¬† It's amazing.¬† What would you do, Jock?¬† Or should we ask our member here?¬† Should we ask our member here who is hosting us?¬† What would John do?¬† (Laughter).
He's got to get in the FedExCup to start with.  Yes, I think he's got to get in the FedExCup.  I think we all feel that and he has to be playing competitive golf.  And he has two weeks.  He has the Bridgestone, which he's owned the last ten years, he's won seven out of ten or something crazy.  And of course he's won at Valhalla, as well.  We'll see.  These next two weeks for Tiger is most important for the next few years, I believe.

Q.  Question for John, actually (laughter)?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Really, John, would you like‑‑ (laughter).

Q.¬† How about any outside influences when it comes to a captain in terms of will Tom be under pressure from The PGA of America, television‑wise, etc.?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I think some captains might be but Tom Watson wouldn't be.  Tom Watson is there to win, and he is going to pick his 12 players that he thinks are going to win.  The PGA of America have selected Tom Watson for that very reason; to get the Ryder Cup back to America.
There will be no pressure on Tom Watson to pick someone for as we might think television viewing audiences or whatever the case may be.  No, no.  No, no.  This will be Tom Watson picking the is it players that he feels will win The Ryder Cup back again, and there will be no pressure on Tom, no, no.
We'll give you the final say, John.¬† Winning score, breeze blowing at, say, ten miles an hour, winning score in your opinion‑‑ yeah, probably four, John, probably four.¬† (Laughter) I've never really seen many people lift the trophy after one.¬† But four probably.
No, no, ten miles an hour wind, what's your winning score?  Remember, we're over 50.  12?  As much as that?  Interesting.  I'd take 12 right now.  I'd take 12 right now and I think I'd be winning by four.

Q.¬† Tom Watson said yesterday ‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I'd agree with him.  The contouring of the fairways, the contouring of the greens, I would think this course is much harder than Hoylake, yes, yes.  Hoylake's greens were not half as severe as here.  Longer, yes, Hoylake of course, but at the same time, this is a stiffer test of golf, yes, than Hoylake.

Q.  What's your winning score?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Eight.  I'll take right now and not go out.
STEVE TODD:  We'll compare on Sunday, Colin.  Thanks for joining us.

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