|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
August 10, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Wednesday at the U.S. Senior Open, the 37th U.S. Senior Open Championship here at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. It's my pleasure to welcome the 2014 champion, Colin Montgomerie, here into the Media Center.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: This is Colin's fourth U.S. Senior Open. In addition to the victory at Oak Tree National, Colin finished runner-up last year to Jeff Maggert at Del Paso.
The 2014 at Oak Tree was your first Major championship victory. Can you just talk about some of the memories from that week when you defeated Gene Sauers in the playoff?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: First of all, thank you for accommodating me. I just got out from playing golf. So thank you for accommodating me before the main event, Jack Nicklaus, comes in later on.
But at the same time, I've been trying, as I said in my winner's speech there, I've been trying for 20-odd years to win a USGA event. And finally, finally, I managed it in a playoff. I'd lost a few playoffs myself. So finally managed it against Gene Sauers there at Oak Tree National.
It was a thrill. It was more a relief than anything else. Finally I've done it. I've finally won a USGA event. To have that magnificent trophy in the house for a year was superb, and I look forward to trying to do it again.
THE MODERATOR: And you mentioned it earlier. You do have an exceptional record in USGA championships in your career. Three runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open and now a win and a runner-up at the Senior Open. What is it about your game that seems to translate so well at the USGA championships?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, the way I attempt to play the game is from the tee shot forward, meaning that I used to hit more fairways than anyone else in the '90s. That was my strength.
And this is a classic '90s U.S. Open setup. Classic. You've got some great northeast seaboard courses that I used to love going to play; your Congressionals, your Marions, your Winged Foots. There's loads of them. Your Brooklines, all these fantastic northeast seaboard courses. This is one of them, just a bit further west, in Ohio.
This is a classic 1990s U.S. Open style golf course, where you are rewarded for hitting the fairway and you are heavily penalized if you don't. That's why I've got a good record in these, because I was playing my second shots from the fairway.
You cannot score around here -- if you start missing the fairways here, you're on a bogey trail that won't stop. You've got to be able to put the ball on the fairway, and that's what I like. It's complete golf, the U.S. Opens. It's always been, so-called, the toughest to win because it's complete golf.
You have to drive the ball straight, you have to hit your iron shots in the right positions, and you have to chip and putt well. It's a complete physical and mental test, and that's why I did well because I was hitting the fairways more than anyone else at that time.
THE MODERATOR: And you mentioned some of the courses -- the Winged Foots, the Brooklines, courses like that -- and you said Scioto is very similar to that.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very. Very similar.
THE MODERATOR: From what you've seen of the course so far, what do you think of it, and what are some of the characteristics of it that you do enjoy so much?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's just a classic case where there's no one hole in particular that really stands out. Yes, the 8th hole is -- if you have a signature hole here, that's it, I suppose, but there's no one hole that particularly stands out. Here you've got 18 strong holes, and that's what stands out in my memories here playing the course is that you've got 18 strong golf holes. There's not a weak one out there, and that's the sign of a good golf course.
THE MODERATOR: And finally, before we open it up, this year, no victories, but already five top ten finishes, including a runner-up at the Senior PGA. How do you feel about your game this week heading into Scioto?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was actually playing very poorly the first four, five months of this year. And although I qualified for the Open and made the cut and everything, that was only because it was local knowledge. I was playing particularly badly. I was actually drawing the ball, hooking the ball, pulling it left. And now I've got that straightened out. And last week, I didn't putt the way I should have done but played remarkably well through the green.
So bringing that form here is vital. So I'm so looking forward to here. So this is, I hate to say, the start of my season, and I hope so, in Major play, being the last one we play, yeah.
Q. It seems to me you've been in excellent spirits since you got out here on this Tour. How much of that has resulted in your good play? The fact that you look so comfortable, feel so comfortable, everything about you being here seems to be working for you. How much of that translates?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's a lot in that. I think you learn and you mature as you go along, and I didn't embrace the American public possibly the way that I should have done earlier on in my career, and it hurt me in majors, hurt me trying to win Major championships.
I've embraced playing here since I turned 50. I really am enjoying it, and I think the golf fans are seeing that, and they are giving back. So it's a two-way street.
I'm thoroughly enjoying myself out here, and I think that, if anything, if you enjoy yourself, you're usually quite good at it, whatever you do, and I really am enjoying what I'm doing.
I'm so excited about the challenge ahead tomorrow morning at 8:33, and we'll go for it from there. I really am. I'm so excited with what's gone on here.
The Champions Tour is a fabulous place to play. They said it was good. It's better than that. There's no great egos out here. I've said this before. There's no great egos out here. We've all attained a certain standing to be out here in the first place. There's no great envy out here. Everybody seems genuinely happy with anyone else's success, and it's just a very welcome place to be. There's a warmth here that I haven't felt in the past, and I blame myself for that sometimes that I didn't give it an opportunity. Now I am, and I'm enjoying it.
Q. Can you just discuss -- you touched on how much fun you're having out here. We lose track of guys in their late forties the last couple of years. Were you excited about turning 50 and playing out here? Were you planning on playing out here? At what point did your mind change on this whole thing?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I didn't think I was going to play senior golf, I must admit. I didn't. I wasn't excited about turning 50. I don't think anybody is now. Now, these ages, we want to go backwards and not forwards, you know. I wasn't really excited about this. I felt that, when I was 50, well, I'd be walking the dogs around the pond at home, you know.
And then I did turn 50 and was actually still having this ambition and the drive and the competitive edge that I found I still had. So I wanted to do something, and I was losing length really off the tee. And the opportunity was afforded me through the Hall of Fame induction in May in 2013. I happened to turn 50 in June that year so the timing was perfect, and I came out on the Tour.
Yes, I've done, yes, reasonably well. Very well, in fact. So, yeah, I'm thrilled now that I've joined the U.S. Tour, the U.S. PGA Tour. I was never a member of the PGA Tour in my days in the '90s. So I am a fully fledged, paid up member now, and I'm loving it, yeah.
So I wasn't really -- a lot of the guys, yes, they tread water from 45 to 50, waiting for this day to come out here and play. I wasn't one of them. I was playing on the European Tour and the odd Major here and there and thinking, okay, I'll probably stop when I'm 55 playing on the European Tour. But this has given everybody that comes out here a new lease of life, a new chapter in one's book. Certain people, a new book completely.
So, yeah, I'm really thoroughly enjoying it, and it's a much better place to play golf than I ever thought it was going to be, yeah.
Q. Colin, two things. First of all, everybody that plays golf at your level has played it at the very best you could possibly play, you know, the best in the world. But, obviously, you lose something as you get older.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, sure.
Q. You also perhaps might do some things better.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, you do.
Q. I'm wondering what things you might do better now than you did ten years ago, say.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's a very good question. If you don't learn after every round of golf, whether you're amateur or pro, you've disappointed yourself in many ways. We always learn every round of golf, and we can always get better.
No, I'm not going to hit the ball any further now. Sorry, that's just human -- that's just age. What you can do is we never, ever got the ball up and down all the time. And what I've been surprised about and shocked about out on this Tour is how they putt, how well they putt.
I thought at 50 you began to lose your nerve, and these guys weren't great putters. I was well wrong there. The putting is incredible out here, and they're not wasting any shots, and it's the wasters of shots that I used to do occasionally.
You watch Bernhard Langer chip and putt. I've watched him for 35 years. He takes long enough to do it so there's time to watch him. And it's amazing how he doesn't waste a shot, and that's key, and that's the momentum that keeps going for the next hole.
It's the ways that Mickelson and Woods kept themselves going over those years, hitting the ball all over the place, really. And yet, getting up and down saved them, and the momentum of that. And that's what I found out here, and that's what I've got better at over these three years I've played on the Champions Tour, that I've had to and have improved my green work from where I was in the '90s.
And I got to No. 2 in the world in the '90s, and I believe I'm a better chipper and putter now than I ever was. So, yes, that's what you feel. And I still have the belief. I believed I could win in the '90s, and I believe I could win now too. So that hasn't changed. That's got to be there. You've got to believe, and that's there.
But I have improved around the greens, yes.
Q. Changing gears, you played the final day at Troon.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did, yes.
Q. Early, but did you play.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Too early.
Q. But you did play. You played four rounds. And it was such a -- really, a monumental day of golf between Henrik and Phil Mickelson.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It was.
Q. I'm wondering where you were after you finished, and did you watch? And where did you watch, and what did you think?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I finished, obviously, well before they had started. I actually went home because my father still lives in Troon. So I went home to my boyhood home and showered, changed, and went back to do some Sky Sports work for television and sat with Nick Faldo for a while and chatted about what was going to happen during the day and finished it firsthand by commentating, announcing on that particular final day, final round.
It was amazing what was going on, from Phil's first shot into the 1st green to Henrik Stenson's three-putt. And suddenly, the one shot ahead was one shot behind. And then Henrik switched another gear and so did Phil.
You have to feel that, you know, that all great events are competition based, competitive events, and that was what we had in 1977 at Turnberry with the famous duel in the sun with Watson-Nicklaus, which all credit to Jack Nicklaus for making it such an event as it was. And I have to say all credit to Phil Mickelson for making Royal Troon's Open memorable because without Phil Mickelson, it wouldn't have been memorable because he'd have won by -- what was he, 14 shots ahead of third place. Incredible.
So Phil, to make it that memorable, first of all, for him. Secondly, I feel sad for him in many ways that to score 65 without a bogey and then lose ground was again remarkable.
So then you've got to talk about Henrik Stenson and say, wow, that was something that we might never see again, 14 shots between the leader and third spot. That doesn't happen very often. You've got to look back on Tiger's display in '97, and you're talking 20 years ago here. So it doesn't happen very often.
It was remarkable. And it's put -- being from Troon, and that's my home course, I'm a member of the place and everything. My dad is the president there.
Q. That I didn't know.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's home. It's put Troon on the map, if it wasn't already, and we'll talk about that Open for a long, long time to come and how remarkable it was, yeah.
They said the scoring was low. No, it wasn't. 6 under was third. That wasn't low scoring. It just so happened that two guys went mad, and they drew the best out in each other.
And Henrik said that; that Phil Mickelson, he knew, wasn't going to back off, and he had to play the way he did, and it kept his mindset going that way.
Very interesting to have the fear of somebody coming at you and you have to play your best, and it kept the concentration levels for Henrik Stenson at a certain level.
Fantastic golf. Something that I'll never forget, especially the last five holes of Henrik Stenson. I mean, the only birdie he missed was the easiest putt on 17, or else he'd have birdied the last five holes on the strongest back nine that we have in golf. Incredible golf. Amazing.
Q. Hi. Obviously, the Olympics are going on right now. And from what I understand, you really pushed to get golf back into the Olympics.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did indeed, yes.
Q. I guess I was wondering your thoughts on some of the big name players that decided not to play and just your thoughts on that.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, disappointing in many ways, obviously. I personally spent time and went to Lucerne, Switzerland, where the head of the IOC is and presented with Annika Sorenstam on behalf of ladies' golf and also with the chief executive of the R&A at the time, Peter Dawson, to try and get Olympics in there.
It finished off with everybody -- there was a video played. We spoke on behalf of golf, and a video spoke. And it was Tiger Woods at the end that really sealed it for us, saying he was No. 1 in the world at the time, and we will be guaranteeing you Olympic golf.
And then you get the top four in the world that decide not to bother for reasons -- for differing reasons, and it is a shame. There's no question.
I do think, though, that when they see the ceremony and they see someone holing a putt to win a gold medal, I do hope that the guys that have said they weren't going and didn't go regret it in many ways when they see the ceremony and the national anthem being played. Whether it be your Star Spangled Banner or whoever's Olympic anthem is played, I do hope that they will regret their decision and say, okay, we're going to go for Tokyo here in 2020. I do hope that's the case. It would be interesting to hear their views on that.
But that's what I would take from that. Yeah, I mean, I spoke to Tim Henman, my close friend Tim Henman, a tennis player, British tennis player, and he went down a few times to play in the Olympics, and he didn't appreciate what it was like to live in the Olympic Village and to have that real team bonding position within the British team, and I'm sure the Americans feel the same way.
So let's hope they regret their decision and commit to Tokyo 2020. Let's hope so.
Q. I don't think it was asked, but I'm going to make sure it wasn't. If you'd have had a chance in your day to play in the Olympics, how would that have excited you and why?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I'll tell you why, and I'll be very short with it. You're world champion for a year. You're an Olympic champion for life. That's my shortest answer of the day.
THE MODERATOR: Colin Montgomerie, 8:33 off the 10th tee on Thursday.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports