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May 24, 2015

Colin Montgomerie


JULIUS MASON: Congratulations on winning your second Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid some immediate thoughts on the day and then we'll go to Q&A.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, it was a difficult position to be in to start the day, to be honest. Three ahead. Nowhere to go, really, but down. With every hole out there, a potential double bogey threat, I could never relax. I could never relax at all. It was very tiring mentally as well as physically for me. But very, very tiring mentally. Every shot had to be executed properly or else you're in trouble. Anybody, I actually believe this, anybody that broke par for the week and around here has to be celebrated, I really do. I think they must have played extremely well, because that was a test and a half, believe me. Great golf course. Great setup. The PGA, as I said yesterday, set the course up, they have set it up perfectly for seniors golf. In that, the rough was penal enough, but you could still get forward with it. The fairways were wide enough, but not too wide. It was just, it was a perfect setup for a Senior PGA Championship of this ilk. And I was just thrilled and honored to be a top of the leaderboard at the end there.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you. Questions?

Q. Esteban got within a shot twice on the front nine. You birdied 5, 7 and you just took off. Between 5 and 12, did you just feel like you were in complete command of your game?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, yes, I 3-putted the first again and made a mess of the first again as I did yesterday. Then I started to relax. When the putt went in at the fifth it was most important to hole the putt at the fifth. It was an 8-footer right-to-left and it went in. And then I really did relax then. When the putt went in at 5. A good four is he sixth and a great birdie at 7 followed by a good birdie at 10, 11, sorry, 9, 10 and 12. And when I holed the putt at 12, I felt safe there. Yeah. I know how difficult the finish is and I just tried to play for the middle of the greens and par in. I made two bogeys but I made a birdie as well so 1-over from the 13th tee in is not bad around here when you're trying to hang on and win a Major Championship. So, yes, Esteban did extremely well to get within one at one stage. My biggest threat at the start of the day was Bernhard Langer. I really thought that he would be that threat, until he got an unlucky bounce at the second and made a double bogey. Once you have done that around here, it's almost impossible to get that back, to claw it back. You have to press, you feel you have to press to get it back, and then you drop another one, as -- you just can't force it around here, or else you're going to make more mistakes. So I was always in a position where I was just safe. But within one of course when I was playing the 7th, I was 5-under, level par for the day and Esteban was 3-under so he was 4- and within one. So, of course, anything could happen. It was a lot closer than it appeared in the latter stages.

Q. Do you do a lot of scoreboard watching as a normal routine for you to know what's going on?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I do. And I know exactly where I stand on the course more so than some players. But this course, the back nine really, from the 13th, I didn't look at the score boards much at all, I was just trying to play the course, I was trying to play what Pete Dye had put together. Trying to find the fairways, find the middle of the greens or the position of the greens where I could 2-putt from. Like at 13 there, the par-3, dangerous to go for that pin. If you go big of that pin, you go over the back there and it's history. So, I played just left of the pin, let it roll down the hill fine, and then 2-putt up the hill, walk off with a three and another hole chalked off the list. And that's what I was trying to do. So, from the 13th in, I didn't look at score boards. Up until then I was, yeah.

Q. You commented after on 18 after winning that you feel like this could be one of, become an iconic course. Can you kind of expand on that.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, on the scale of this golf course, for one, I mean most courses are built on 150 or 170 acres of land. This covers 400. So the scale of this course is dramatic, for one. The terrain is dramatic. The holes are dramatic. Every hole is on its own. You can't really see many other holes from the hole you're on. It's a terrific layout. I'm just not saying that because I've won here. I think that everyone playing here can understand the challenges involved in trying to play this course. Of course, if you come here as a handicapped golfer, say off a 18 handicap, you'll have to play the forward tees. Fine. But it gives you the opportunity to hit the second shots in. I think when the TPC was first introduced many, many years ago, at Sawgrass, who knew it would turn out to be the course that it is. And this is one of them. This is a fantastic setup here. In an area where you wouldn't think this would be. You could see this iconic course in Florida or up in New York state or whatever, in California. South Indiana doesn't spring to mind very much. But this will put French Lick back on the map. We said this 25 years ago, only thing for French Lick was Larry Bird, wasn't he? I think. Now, you've got the French Lick resort back to its grandeur, I think 560 million was put in by the Cook Group to renovate those two fantastic hotels down in, one in West Baden and one in French Lick. And this golf course. And I think that people will travel here now. They will. To see this. Because it's now been on national television the last two days, and it can only have sold this whole resort and this golf course.

Q. You have won three of the last six senior Majors. How does that feel?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean, fantastic, really. I do prefer the four round event. I do. I prefer the setup of Major Championships. It's more to the ilk that I used to play on. It's more to the feeling of a Major Championship. And no bones about it, this felt like Harbor Shores did last year, this felt like me playing in a Major Championship of 20 years ago. Definitely. It had that, I know the competition, people say the competition is not there, the competition is very, very good out here. Extremely good. I couldn't believe the number of people that broke par around this golf course. This is a terrific layout and a fantastically difficult golf course. So, to have three out of the last six is just tremendous. And I'm home -- I missed the flight tonight, so I'm going home tomorrow. I've got a couple weeks at home and come back for Boston, the Senior PLAYERS Championship, another Major, and then I got the two U.S. Opens on the West Coast. So I'm so looking forward to playing in them. And then I think, if it serves me right, does that mean I'm -- do I get in to Whistling Straights again, is that or not? Do I?

JULIUS MASON: That would suggest you will be playing at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straights, yes.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I look forward to another one. So that's great. So this year I've got seven Major Championships to play in this year. And I enjoy them all. Thoroughly.

Q. At the end of the day yesterday you were leading by three, but you were practicing last night, was there something about your game that you were dissatisfied with? Has that become kind of common place? Or what specifically may you have been working on?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, sure, good question. We finished early yesterday. We finished about 4:30. And I hadn't driven the ball as well as I wanted to. It was going a little bit left. And if you aim left and it goes left, that's sort of not great. I aim left and I try to fade the ball and I wanted to try to get some rhythm back in to try and really encourage me to sleep better last night. That was what it was. I wasn't trying to do anything but that. I was just trying to complete my back swing and if I did that and hit some good shots, I could go home happier than I would having left three ahead, yes, but not entirely happy with the game. I knew that around here you got to be precise. So, that's why I practiced yesterday. I wouldn't do, I haven't, I wouldn't normally practice before or rather after a round, but the weather was good, and Alastair, my caddie, says, come on, let's sort this driving out. So he was right to do so.

Q. If you are still surprised about that many people, five, being under par here, what is your 8-under rang in your mind in your career performance?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think to average four 70's around here is as good as I could ever have done. If I had come here in the '90s at No. 2 in the world, as I was in 1997, if I had come here in the '90s and shot 8-under, at No. 2 in the world on this golf course, from these tee, in these conditions, I would have been thrilled. So, 18 years on, I am delighted to say to you that the game hasn't altered that much, in fact, not at all. So, I feel I'm playing as well as I did then. I really am. So, thrilled to think that I can get around here in 8-under. And it's given me great confidence to go forward now with the rest of the year.

Q. Having won three tournaments in relatively short order, three Majors, is there anything you can take from those or that you took from those first two experiences in terms of approach or how to close one of these things out?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think patience is one of them. Because you got four rounds, you can be slightly more patient than you could be otherwise. I think confidence, knowing you've done it before, there's no reason why you can't do it again. The first time's the difficult one. To get over that hurdle. To actually win a Major Championship like Benton Harbor last year was the first one, especially on American soil, you know. So, but I think one, patience, and two, confidence, knowing that you can do it. So, if you've done it a year ago, why shouldn't you do it again? You know. I know there's some great players coming on to the Champions Tour over the next few years, that always happens, we get an influx of 49, 48 year olds that are coming up on 50. So you know that you got a few years where by you've got to, you got to get the job done. And this was one of them. Three ahead going into the last round. There's not many occasions that you have that opportunity and it's nice to have taken it.

Q. Wondering what you would think of being part of the very small group that has made their first three Champions Tour victories Majors. That list is Colin Montgomerie and Jack Nicklaus.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I heard that earlier on. And well, I'm very honored, in knowing Jack as I do, and he obviously didn't play in many Regular Tour events or else he would have probably won them as well. I can't seem to get the Regular Tour events done. But thrilled to -- any time that you emulate something that Jack Nicklaus has achieved, even in senior golf, I'm very honored.

JULIUS MASON: Would you mind just quickly going through your birdies here, the card. What you hit.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. Sure. Yeah, the first hole of course I 3-putted. I left my first putt short and missed from five foot. I just pulled it left and it didn't come back, unfortunately. So that was my first bogey. The fifth hole I got up in two. I was just left of the green and got up-and-down, a good 8-footer right-to-left putt for birdie. 7th hole was an 8-iron to about 10 foot and a good putt down the hill left-to-right. The 9th, hit a great drive, I thought it was going to hit the fairway but it bounced right into the rough and I could only get into the front bunker and a good up-and-down from the front bunker. It was a good 45 yards away. And a good shot 20 foot birdie putt that went in there. The 10th, I played the 10th hole well. I used my cleek down the hill there, my hybrid club and then a sand wedge in to about four foot. So that was good. Then following with the birdie at the 12th, two woods to just short of the green. Chipped up to again four foot and that went in. Then I made a mess of 15. I blocked my drive and the Marshall did very well to find the ball, to be honest. And I hacked it out and got it on the green in three. A very difficult hole, I'm sure that played the toughest of the day. I managed to 2-putt for bogey. Then I probably hit the four best shots of the week at 16. Great drive down there, a good 3-wood, a lovely sand wedge in to three foot and a good putt. So, that was the birdie that really sealed it. Then easy enough at the last. But the last hole, I had 161 yards to the pin and there was about seven yards behind it. So 168 to the back edge. And, okay, it was quite breezy, but I decided to hit a wedge, knowing that it couldn't get past the hole. And it flew a good 170. Which is ridiculous, with a wedge. That's adrenaline, ladies and gentlemen. I could never hit a wedge, a wedge for me maximum even downwind is 140, 145. Max. And that flew 170. Ridiculous. But, anyway, there you go. And I made a bogey, unfortunately. But I had a few shots to play with, so it was okay. But that's amazing how adrenaline in the body works, to the detriment mainly, because you don't know how far you're going to hit the ball and I didn't at the last hole there. But three bogeys but culminating with the six birdies. That's what made it for me today was the six birdies. You can play golf if you make six birdies.

JULIUS MASON: Colin, thanks very much for coming down.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you very much. Thank you.
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