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November 12, 2014

Colin Montgomerie


PAUL SYMES:  Colin, many thanks for joining us.
PAUL SYMES:  Event No.600 on The European Tour just around the corner, how special does that feel and also to be achieving it on a course that bears your name.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Yes, as I said to a few guys this week, it's amazing.  You'd have to pinch me if you told me this was going to happen, 27 years in and your 600th tour event and you're playing on a course that you designed.  You think, okay, that sounds okay to me, and especially The Final Series, as well.  One of the premiere events on The European Tour already just in its second season.
So it's a delight and a real honour to join an illustrious group that have reached 600, the ones that have done it have been very fortunate in many ways to be healthy for that length of time to achieve that.  But when you think it's 30 tournaments for 20 years in a row, it's a lot and it's a long walk.  As a bad flyer, I suppose 500 of them I've flown to, so that's even more worrying.
But at the same time, a great honour and delighted to be here, almost sort of‑‑ I feel as if I'm sort of hosting the players here this week somehow.¬† The feedback has been good regarding the course, and it was last year.¬† And it remains that way, which is great for me.¬† You put yourself up for a fall here, you've got, what, 67 players and 77 critics, or potential critics out there.¬† But at the same time, it seems positive, which is great.

Q.  Lee Westwood was talking about the American task force for The Ryder Cup mand Lee said about the captain, Ryder Cup Captain, might not have as much influence on winning it, but more influence on losing it by doing the wrong things.  As a winning Ryder Cup Captain, what's your views on that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Wow, you never go into it thinking that.¬† The word "losing" never came into one's mind‑set.¬† It is a difficult task for both captains next time.¬† One, the European captain, after three wins in a row, it is difficult to maintain that momentum, it is.¬† And also it's a difficult job for the American captain in that you feel, being at home, that the Americans have to win.
So it's difficult on both sides and being one of the guys that has been selected, we take the last three captains of The Ryder Cup, and I'm one of those with Olazabal and Paul McGinley, and David Howell, I believe, has been invited to join that committee; that it's a very important decision, very important decision.
But I do agree that it should be made by the players for the players, and that's where The PGA of America differ in that way.¬† So it's important that the players feel that the players have selected the captain.¬† But it's a difficult task for both, for both.¬† One maintaining this momentum we have, and two, especially in America‑‑ and two, the American captain, you feel with the task force and all the stuff that's been done, that new captain of America has to win.¬† So it's difficult on both sides.

Q.¬† Did you ever see the day you thought that the Americans would be sitting an 11‑man task force for The Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† No, I didn't.¬† I didn't think the day would come when out of the last ten, they have won two.¬† And one of those was 10‑6 down, amazing.¬† No, I couldn't foresee this changing of the guard no, no.¬† And it's great as a European to say that.

Q.  This task force for the Americans, what advice could you give them as to how they can beat you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† It seems a little bit, this so‑called task force, there was four matches out there that went the Europeans way, and might not have done and it would have changed the whole scene.
Hunter Mahan at one stage, his game was 4‑up.¬† Jordan Spieth at one stage his game was 3‑up.¬† Jim Furyk was 1‑up with three to go and Webb Simpson was 1‑up on the last.¬† If those four games had gone the Americans way, which you would think, okay, America win.¬† Okay, they didn't.
So then you set up this task force and there's all sorts of things going on.  But just, I don't see it, I don't see the necessity in that task force.  I just see, I just see someone getting the team to play as a team.  That's what I would foresee for the Americans to play as a team for each other.
And the way that Europe have done eight out of the last ten Ryder Cups, in fact, ten out of the last ten, we just lapped to have lost a couple, that's the way it goes, they are very, very close.¬† And 16 1/2 ‑ 11 1/2, you think that's a fair defeat, but those four games I mean, you know, if you're 4‑up, you almost, 99 per cent ticking in the box, that's a win, an 18‑hole match, you're 4‑up.¬† And it didn't happen.
All credit, all credit to ‑‑ I think it was Graeme McDowell who was playing‑‑ no, it was Jordan Spieth that was 3‑up that Graeme McDowell managed to get back‑‑ or it was Justin Rose that was playing Hunter Mahan, that got back to getting a halve or a point for Europe.
It was a lot closer, a lot closer than you would imagine.¬† So the necessity for a task force I think is‑‑ you see this crying out situation, and I don't think that's necessary.

Q.  To take it one step back even further, outside of 2008, 2010 and 2012 were very competitive Ryder Cups.

Q.  And then we made a decision, the Americans made a decision, PGA of America made a decision to go outside the box and pick Tom Watson.  It seemed like maybe that might have been a bit of pushing the panic button a little early, and now the task force.  Do you think that maybe we are just too consumed with trying to figure out how to win when really we seemed to have at least a decent formula before what happened in 2014?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† I mean, it seemed a very decent formula.¬† Paul Azinger had a good formula obviously.¬† I think Corey Pavin did well the last time, and so did Davis Love.¬† They just happened to lose by that half a point, and that's all it was.¬† It was someone's game, someone's chip‑in, someone's shot, very, very close.
And, yeah, you know, people were surprised by Tom Watson's choice.  I thought it was a good choice, I did.  The last time that America had won on foreign soil 21 years ago was Tom Watson, and they brought him back to try and do this.  It just didn't work.  For whatever reasons, it didn't work. 
And now, the Americans have got to get back to a stage:  Do you go outside the box again?  Do you go for the Larry Nelson type or do you go back to Paul Azinger the last time they won?  Or do you go back to where you were going in the likes of David Toms or Steve Stricker or someone like that; or do you go to The Presidents Cup angle, do you go to Freddie Couples, who has had great success in The Presidents Cup.
So there are options now, and it's up to the PGA to talk to those players and to find out what the best solution is.

Q.¬† Just taking that a step further, who would you like to see then as a replacement to Tom Watson, given the fact that you are playing more in the States and perhaps more‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I think Jay Haas will do a very good job in captaining The Presidents Cup this time again, and there's a lot of options available.  It's just a matter of getting the guy that the American players feel comfortable with.
So there's 13 of them together, as it seems to be for Europe.  There seems to be 13 of us, which is the captain and the 12 players are very, very close, very close.  You saw the closeness with Paul McGinley and the players this time.  I hope I was close.  You see José Maria very close with the players, and that maintains with this European ethic that there's 13 of us, the captain is one of the team, yeah.

Q.¬† Just take you away to this Race to Dubai final next month, you won eight Order of Merits, I'm not too sure if you went to Valderrama and couldn't be beaten in any of those‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Just the ones, yeah, yeah, '94.

Q.¬† And with Rory sort of in a seeming‑‑

Q.  With Rory in an unseemingly unsettled position, there is a mathematical chance he could be beaten next week.  Does the Tour need to react and tweak the Final Series, or do we need to go down the path of Formula I?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I think the FedEx series worked well this year that the guy that came in No. 70, I believe, happened to win the thing, in Billy Horschel.  He came in I think No. 70 to start the series, the four series, and managed to have a couple of wins and a second and won it.
I would think that it would be good to have Rory playing here or in one of these series, obviously, beforehand.  And also giving an opportunity for, at least as it always is in the FedEx series; I think they got to a stage where at least there's five guys that can win, yes, and I think they have got that down to the last series is at least five guys to win.
I think we'll have to tweak it somehow so that somebody doesn't‑‑ so that The Race to Dubai means something at the end of the day.¬† I mean, the guy's played great, don't get me wrong, don't get me wrong there.¬† But it would be good to have that bonus, that Race to Dubai competitive throughout the whole series, yes.

Q.  But does that not diminish the season that Rory has had?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† No, it doesn't diminish the season he's had, not at all, not at all.¬† Not if he doesn't‑‑ not if he doesn't win The Race to Dubai, no.¬† It doesn't diminish the season and the couple of majors that he's had, no, not at all.

Q.  Going back to the task force, do you think that was set up in the wake of what happened on the golf course at Gleneagles, or what happened in the media centre on the Sunday night where Phil criticised Tom?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Interesting, a bit of both, a bit of both probably.  I think one of the players being critical or expressing an opinion that was doubting captaincy aided that task force being assembled, and also losing, losing didn't help either.  So I think a bit of both.

Q.¬† Last week talking to Lee Westwood about the announcement after George O'Grady‑‑ or talking to Ernie Els, he suggested that¬† one of the issues that The European Tour has going forward is not having a star playing here enough and suggested that The European Tour should do anything possible to keep Rory McIlroy to play as much in Europe as possible, including financial incentives.¬† Just asking if you think that would be a good idea or if that's even necessary.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Very good, I think the new CEO of our tour has to be very careful about our stars, so‑called stars, our Ryder Cup players, the stars of our tour, playing full‑time somewhere else.
We've got to be quite careful here.¬† The first thing a sponsor asks is who's playing.¬† And too many times, too often, that nine or ten of our Ryder Cup Team are playing full‑time in America, and we have to address that.¬† And the new CEO of the Tour has to address that and Rory McIlroy is part of that.¬† We have to have more of our stars playing more in Europe more of the time.¬† That's a big, big first job of the CEO to try and address that situation.¬† How, I don't know how that's done, because I'm not of the job.
But at the same time that's a definite criteria for it to address that situation.  There's too many of our stars playing in America and not enough American stars playing over here.  That would be No. 1.  I agree with you.

Q.¬† Can you give me your thoughts on Miguel √Āngel Jim√©nez‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  His hairstyle, or what?

Q.  What strengths he might bring as a future candidate for 2016.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Oh, for The Ryder Cup, I thought you meant his hairstyle (laughter).
I think Miguel would be an excellent choice.  It's difficult to talk to me regarding this because I am one of the people that choose obviously.  So it's difficult to say anything really positive or really negative.  But at the same time, he is one of the candidates and would be an excellent choice and a real player favourite and a fan favourite and would be a super addition to The Ryder Cup captaincy that we've had in the past.
But for me to say, yeah or nay at that, I would say that about Darren Clarke and I would say that about other candidates.  So forgive me for not addressing to that stage.

Q.  You've had a fantastic year.  Where does it rank in all the things that you've achieved, and what's the secret to you finally discovering how to win big in America?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Yeah, I can compete against 50‑year‑olds.¬† It's more of a level playing field.¬† You know, for the first time, I'm on a level playing field.¬† Here it isn't.¬† I'm playing against what we call the flat bellies, which are the under 25s, we call it the flat bellies.¬† They are the under 25s.¬† I've got a couple tomorrow, I've got Pablo Larraz√°bal and Thorbj√łrn Olesen to play with, a couple of young guns that hit the ball a mile.¬† And it will be interesting to see if my style of play can compete with their style around a modern, long golf course.
I believe I've played as well as I did, almost as well as I did as I did in the 90s over in America this year, I really have performed as well, really, as I would like to have done.  There's some that have just performed better; Bernhard Langer, which was an incredible performance at his age of 57.
I just look forward to going back there again and trying to go one stage further.  I finished second in the Charles Schwab Cup, our FedEx series, and I would love to try and go one stage further and try to win that next year.  And I'm playing in more tournaments.  I only played 18 out of 26 of them.  I think it's 28 next year and I'm going to play in about 24 of them next year.
So that's classified as a full schedule and I look forward to trying to win.¬† And it's a great feeling.¬† I mean, coming up the last few holes of that US PGA Championship, the U.S. Senior PGA Championship at Benton Harbor, I was about three shots I believe ahead of Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson.¬† And it really did feel‑‑ and I know how it feels, and it really did feel like a major championship.¬† I felt as I did in '94 or '97 or '95 when I was competing in these majors and get to go playoffs.¬† It felt as good as that, yeah, and as tense as that.¬† So the feeling was great, and finally managing to win was fantastic, yeah.

Q.  What do you put it down to?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† I think I'm more patient than I was.¬† I think I'm enjoying the game more than I did‑‑ I don't know if I enjoy the game.¬† It was more of a job.¬† Now I'm actually enjoying the game and being more patient.¬† I think that's enabling me to play better shots at the right time.

Q.  We were looking at some of your stats over your 599, and I guess the first question is, which win, I think it's 31, which one was your most memorable to you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  There wasn't one particular win.  It was three wins in a row at Wentworth at the PGA Championship, three wins in a row, the'98, '99, 2000.  That's never been done before and that was as good as I could have done.  And so that was the highlight of my playing career was to win at Wentworth three times in a row, yeah.

Q.¬† And the other thing was noticing that you only had one wire‑to‑wire win.¬† I just wondered if you had any idea why that was the case.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† That was not as good as I thought it was (laughter).¬† Did I really only have one wire‑to‑wire win?¬† Where was that at?

Q.  The Irish Open.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Irish Open.  Obviously started slow and built up.

Q.  You sound as surprised as I was.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† That surprising, isn't it.¬† That was very surprising.¬† I didn't realise, wire‑to‑wire wins‑‑ okay.¬† I don't know why that should be.¬† Obviously, obviously got better as the week progressed.¬† Obviously it was my fitness, really, that came good (laughter).¬† I don't know why it should be that way.

Q.  Fair enough.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  That is a surprise to me.  That's a real surprise.  I thought you'd say there was six, you know, half a dozen.  One surprises me.

Q.  You said that it was more a job back then for you.  When did it change being a job and being fun?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† I think roundabout the time that I peaked on this European Tour.¬† I won the Order of Merit in 2005 when I was 42, and then 43, 44, it was sort of tailing off to the sort of Top‑10 and then really 45 to 50 is a time where we all sort of tread water, really, until we reach 50, if you want to play serious golf or not.
I think that was the time that it stopped being a job and I started taking golf in a different vein, started looking at the game in a different vein.  So 45 through to 50, I certainly tailed off on The European Tour, and didn't win and what have you.  Well, 2007, I managed, but it was tailing off then.  So for 46 to 50 was a time that I really felt that it was changing, changing the feeling of the game, yeah, yeah.  And then starting again here at 50, I've kept that feeling of trying to enjoy it more into my senior, now, career.

Q.  Who was the toughest competitor you experienced on the golf course?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  To play against in European competition was Bernhard Langer always.  You were never going to rely on Bernhard Langer to beat himself.  You always had to go and beat Bernhard Langer.  He was never going to give you anything.
Most other guys on The European Tour‑‑ Faldo, Faldo was Langer‑esque.¬† Most of the other guys on The European Tour, most of the other guys on The European Tour could‑‑ you felt could give you something.¬† They could give you a bogey or give you a double at the right time.¬† Langer and Faldo, mostly Langer, did not.¬† They did not give you anything.¬† So you had to go and beat them and they were the toughest competitors, the ones that you go, had to beat, yeah.
Even the great Seve, could make errors.  I mean, he was brilliant, of course but he could make errors at the same time.  Olazábal could make errors.  Langer and Faldo, no.  They weren't making mistakes.  You had to go and beat them. 
And every time I did beat them, sometimes in Europe, that was a very important win for me when I said I could actually beat them, because I knew that they were giving 100 per cent and not beating themselves.

Q.¬† Do your major victories this year make up for the heartache‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I wouldn't change anything, really.  There's heartache, of course, but hindsight is a great thing hitting certain shots or whatever.  I've never really thought about that.  It's just additions to a career that I'm very proud of, just additions.
I wouldn't take anything back, nothing at all.¬† People say, oh, would you swap one of your Order of Merits for a major.¬† No, I'm very proud of finishing five times runner‑up in Majors.¬† I beat the rest of them (smiling).¬† And what's been achieved.¬† No, I wouldn't change anything, no, not at all, not at all.¬† Just additions.

Q.  You mentioned that you've become much more of a patient person in recent years, do you find you're more of a forgiving sort of person, as well?  I'm sure you've had difficult relationships with people over the years that maybe have mellowed a bit and things like that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I think so.  I think you do mellow and you mature and you understand, and the older you get, the wiser you become and you realise that things you used to do and things you did weren't quite seen as the right thing to be doing or whatever, but yes, I have mellowed. 
I have mellowed and I have different relations with certain players now with certain members of the press, I have a better relationship with you guys, I have a better relationships all over.  It is a happier world, yeah, yeah.

Q.  Just back to the majors for a second.  If you were like you were now back in your prime, is there any question in your mind you would have won a major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  You can't say.  You can't say.  You've got to be fortunate.  You've got to be fortunate to win any golf tournament.  It says the 31 victories there, and I can honestly say 31 times I had to make a winner's speech, and I never said I was unlucky ever, ever.  There's always one situation or one hole that you are lucky in and it turned around, whether it's lucky for you or whether it's unlucky for your opponent.  But there's always a time where it's fortunate and the ball runs your way.
In major championships, that just didn't happen.  It didn't happen.  For some reason, it just didn't happen.  The ball didn't run my way.  And, hey, no regrets on that one.  It just didn't happen.  When I was beaten in major championships, four out of the five times I was second, was due to the fact that someone else beat me.  The one time that I beat myself, it just didn't happen at Winged Foot in 2006, it just didn't happen.  And, okay, fine, move on.

Q.  Martin had written a story in The Scotsman yesterday, I believe, about Ryder Cup and bringing it back to Scotland.

Q.¬† There's been a long time obviously since it had been in Scotland‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  41 years we waited for it to come back.

Q.¬† There seems to be at least some movement afoot to try to bring it back in '26 or '30 or whatever it is‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Well, we've got '26 and '30 to think about, yes.

Q.¬† Just want to know your thoughts on‑‑ obviously it will be certainly a lot sooner than it was last time.¬† Do you think that it's something that should be looked at seriously?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Well, it was a great success, as The Ryder Cup in Ireland was a fantastic success as it was in Spain a great success, as it was in Wales a great success.
We've been very fortunate, very fortunate that the Ryder Cups in recent times, even at The Belfry, you remember 2002 was a fantastic Ryder Cup.  We've been very fortunate with our venues in The Ryder Cup and how successful they have been.
Scotland adds to that because it's the Home of Golf.  You feel that, why do we have to wait 41 years to get it back to the Home of Golf.  And it would be great to have it back in Scotland sooner than 41 years, definitely.  But it's a European Tour, remember.  It's not just a Scottish or a British tour.  It's a European Tour.  And we are obligated to go to countries within Europe, not just the home nation.
So it would be great to see it return sooner than 41 years, that's for sure.
PAUL SYMES:  Congratulations again, Colin.

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