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July 20, 2016

Colin Montgomerie

Carnoustie, Scotland

TOM CARLISLE: Delighted to welcome Colin Montgomerie here, eight-time European Tour Order of Merit, three-time Senior Major Champion.

Normally I'd a say for a player, happy to be back, but you've spent the past two weeks in Scotland, so looking forward to this week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's been super. It's been a celebration of golf, hasn't it, over the last month. Castle Stuart obviously is a great, great course, well supported and the top four finishing at Troon last week all played there. So I'm sure Martin Gilbert will promote that to the nth degree, as he should.

And the open last week was a fantastic event I'll never forget, and here we are. This is the first opportunity I've got of winning the Senior Open here in Scotland. It's the first time we've played two in England and one in Wales since I was 50, so I look forward to the opportunity trying to do that. Having finished second and third the last two years, hopefully we can go two or three better than that.

The competition is extremely high, of course it is, and it's getting higher all the time. Jiménez here, I think Vijay is playing as well -- no, he's not. I'm in a great draw with John Daly, and of course the legend that is Tom Watson who won here in '65, his first victory. I played with him yesterday in the pro-am actually and was picking his brains about where he was in the playoff with Jack Newton. In those days, I believe it was a Monday finish, they had to come back -- Saturday, or it was still a Sunday.

And fabulous, and what a day it was yesterday, what a day. What happened overnight, I don't know. I think we left and went -- it was like -- talk about Melbourne. If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change. This was very similar. Incredible day yesterday and we wake up and it's a storm outside and not just a storm; it was a storm and a half, fantastic.

And it's amazing, these course, isn't it. The guys are out playing now. Amazing, these courses, how they drain and how they cope with inclement weather that's thrown on them, so we look forward to playing.

TOM CARLISLE: Carnoustie, a course you're very familiar with.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so, the course record -- the last was playing a par 5 in those days, and I shot 64, 8-under. So whether that's still a course record or not; I was very proud of that score. I wasn't so proud of Wayne Riley beating me for the week, which I try and keep as quiet as possible (laughter).

But at the same time, great love of the place. I've always thought of The Open rota courses, the nine that are on the Open rota courses for the R&A, this is the best one. There's no weak hole out here. Dramatic finish, obviously. Superb golf course in superb condition.

Although this course is green, it looks green. It's still playing as a links course. It's firm and fast and yet it's green. It's perfect. Let's hope that we can play perfect golf around it this week. But we'll see how it goes.

Q. Your experience last week, how much does that whet your appetite to win here and get that exemption that will get you into Birkdale next year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was just asked about that, would I qualify again if the opportunity arose. I said, hang on a minute, I might not have to if I win here. That's the idea.

I enjoyed the Open. It's the first time I played in The Open since 2010, I enjoyed it thoroughly, of course. I was disappointed the way I played to be honest. I didn't actually play very well. I was disappointed with the way I struck the ball. Disappointed in the way that I played. But knowing the course the way I did, I managed to get around.

I'm actually playing a lot better now. I had a chat with Ewen Murray and with Butch Harmon actually in the booth during our minute break that we had on SKY Sports. I was picking their brains as to why am I doing this Butch; why am I doing this Ewen; and Ewen Murray is very good, as well as Butch, and so they put me right.

I played well yesterday, and I look forward to trying to avoid qualifying for The Open again. Whether I will or not, I'm not sure. I've had to take two weeks away from the Champions Tour to do that, but because it was Troon, I did it. Whether or not I'll do it again for Birkdale or not, I'm not sure.

Q. Where would a win here rank in your career?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: This would be right there. This would be right there. To win in Scotland is huge, of course it is, and the last time I really did that professionally was the Dunhill Cup back in 2005. The previous of course was in 1999, The Scottish Open. It's massive to win in your own country, support is superb, and it will be again. Expecting big crowds here. This is the strongest field we've had on, as I say, the best links course in the land.

I think it will be a great, yet again, a great celebration of golf, and let's hope the finish is as good as it was last week. It can't be any better. Let's hope it's as good.

Q. You alluded to the fact that you weren't particularly happy with the way you played last week, but that apart, you've got The Scottish Open and The Open on Scottish soil, and you've now got a third one here. So has your preparation in other ways been good then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I think it has. I'm into the links way, there's no question. There's no question I'm into the links way of golf, having to cope with the excess spin you get from tight lies on the fairways that you get from links golf that you don't get from a parkland course. All weathers are played in. Castle Stuart was wet and windy. So was last week.

So I'm used to all the conditions. I was actually glad this morning when it's raining and the course was shut. I was knackered. I went down to London on Monday for a company day, back again last night late for a -- or yesterday morning, to play in the Pro-Am here yesterday, another dinner last night, so I was tired. It was nice that I could rest up today and look forward tomorrow.

Q. You say that this course looks the same to Troon, but it's firm and fast. Obviously does that suit you more, and can you tell the difference in the distance yardage-wise to this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I was hoping Troon would be firmer. Troon was firm, May, June. It had a lot of rain in July and it softened Troon up.

This is firmer anyway. This is a firmer, firmer area of the country. We all know the west is wet and the east is dry, usually. And it's a very different texture of grass here, very firm.

So I was hoping that Troon would play that way. It would give me more of an advantage if the ball was running for those longer hitters into the rough, and it never did. It seemed to stop. A lot of drives I saw over the weekend that actually went down and only ran four or five yards, very different from what you're expecting. This is still a rock and this gives me an advantage, because I do hit the ball lower than most and gives me an advantage that I was hoping for at Troon, yeah, yeah.

Yardage-wise, very similar. I think they are both about 7,200 yards. This, because of its firmness, will play slightly shorter than that. Say you've got a hundred yards a more of run, so it's a hundred yards shorter at all. But a great test of golf. I love it. I love it around here. This is the best of the lot, yeah.

As I said, there's not a weak hole here. You can always pick out one hole somewhere, one hole somewhere that's not quite at; you would change or do something with it on all Open rota courses, but not here. Not here. This is the best.

Q. They always keep talking about growing the game. What do you think last Sunday's duel between the two players will do in those terms?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Interesting, I think '77 was another opportunity to grow the game when we saw Watson, Nicklaus, two legends of the game go at it that way, especially the sunshine, it brought more people into the game. I hope it would do the same similar to give opportunity to others to play.

Here in Scotland, we have opportunity. There's no doubt. We have 530 courses for four and a half million people. We have more courses per capita than anywhere else in the world, so there's opportunity there.

Let's hope that the youngsters get away from their computers, get away from their phones, get themselves out there, do something constructive with their lives and go play golf. To emulate the likes of that, because that was super, that was really superb. Although Stenson won by 3, that 16 was pivotal. Mickelson's putt there, if that had gone, in, would Stenson have holed his? Who knows. And they are on the 17th tee all-square, whole different ballgame. It was really close until Stenson birdied 16 and 18 to widen the gap.

But let's hope that it can encourage youth to get out there and try and emulate the way that Andy Murray is doing at the tennis here in Scotland. Let's hope that we see his success help others get themselves out and do something with themselves, as opposed to what's happening in this world right now and it's far too much, this social media stuff.

I mean, social media, what the hell -- what do people do? Are they not busy? Are they not doing something with their lives? Do something bloody well constructive and get on with it. Like either try tennis or play golf or something and try and emulate those stars of today, the way I did. I was watching Borg and McEnroe. I was watching Watson here. I was watching Weiskopf win in '73 at Troon. That was my first Open when I was ten years old, and I wanted a bit of that, too. Of course you do. And you end up, a few years later, 40, or you know, 43 years later, doing it still. Great. Fantastic. And let's hope that's encouraging others.

Q. All of The Open courses have changed and some of them have been stretched. Carnoustie seems to have been changed the least.

Q. Your 64 was in '95, was it? Is it roughly the same?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The third has changed. The third has changed. But apart from that, I think there's one new tee. Now whether it be 17, they moved it back slightly at 17, is the same course. It's the same course as it was. I talked to Tom Watson about the tees; was this tee here at 14, the spectacles hole, was that tee there. And he looked around and he said, "Yeah, it's the same tee, 1975, par 5." Now you tell me how many courses a par 5 tee remains the same for 40-odd years? Hasn't. They have all stretched. They have all stretched 20, 30, 40 yards. This course doesn't need it. This course was built for time, and superb, really is superb.

The only change, they kept the same tee at the last and called it a par 4. But yes, that was it, really. This course stands the test, fantastic test, this. I love playing here.

Q. You must have been delighted how Troon came out of The Open as a venue.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A lot of work was done behind the scenes. I saw it all being built, the city being built, and the brand of The Open, including its brand worldwide now, the word "Championship" is gone. It's now just The Open, like the Masters or Wimbledon. It doesn't need much, does it. That says it all.

And I think that a lot of work was done by the members of Troon, the champions committee of the club itself, and also the R&A. I think it's building into something very, very special here, The Open now. I think Peter Dawson did a marvelous job taking The Open into the 21st century. I think Martin Slumbers is continuing in that mold.

I think the scoreboard spectator experience is better than ever. The score boards are fabulous. The way the courses are set up, superb. Player facilities are improving all the time. Yeah, we look forward to Birkdale, to improve that brand yet again, because we're always very proud of The Open, and that's all we need to say about it -- our U.S. cousins here; we don't need the U.S. "Open", we don't need the U.S. "PGA." It's The Open. We're very proud of it. It is the oldest one and it should be and are very, very proud of what we have.

Q. A shame that it was dormant --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: They all do, don't they. Carnoustie lay dormant. This lay dormant from '75 to '99. This lay dormant for 24 years because of so-called course condition. I mean, amazing. This course lay dormant. Incredible. And now it's back on and it's back on with a vengeance. This is seen as -- 2018, I think we're here again, aren't we, for The Open. 2017, Birkdale and 2018, we're back here. And the youngsters that haven't played this particular course since 2008, was it, the last time -- it's 11 years, you see. You say it lies dormant.

Great that we're here, this course, for these guys. 11 years, a lot of guys have not played here, and they will come and think like we all think that this is the best of the lot.

Q. You're speaking of social media addicts with far too much time on their hands, are you familiar the Twitter account parody account, @Darth_Monty?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I've been told of it. I think he's a fan. Definitely say all credit to me or something -- that's right, that's him. I love him. (Laughter).

Yeah, I'll call him a fan because it's probably the only one I've got, so I'll call him a fan. He's great. He always tends to copy what I'm saying. He's fantastic. But I don't have Twitter on here -- I don't know what it is.

Q. Does it ever worry you that people think it's a genuine account?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it doesn't matter. I'm not interested. If I worried about social media, I'd be away from here a long, long time ago. I concentrate really on what I try to do best is play the game of golf, and that's what I try and do best, and believe me, I'll be giving it everything here. It will be a great competition to try to beat here in Bernhard Langer and Miguel Ángel Jiménez, the favourites this week to start this week. I'd be just behind them possibly. Being Scottish, I'd love to beat them both.

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