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July 26, 2017

Colin Montgomerie

Royal Porthcawl, Wales, United Kingdom

TOM CARLISLE: Delighted to be joined by Colin Montgomerie. 2014, one of five golfers to finish better than par, but unfortunately had one man ahead of you. What was the difference that weekend?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, wow, how can you talk about three years ago, four years ago, it was a very different golf course. It was like playing down the runway. You had no rain here at all and the course was in great condition, a real links course.

There's no water in the fairways here, so when it does get like that, it is playing like a true links course. And I do believe that most courses nowadays are overwatered. It's great sometimes to play the traditional way before sprinklers were in fairways. This has been quite a modern thing, really.

But when I talk about modern things, I think that was one of the greatest victories in the modern golfing era. We talk about Tiger's 15-shot win at the U.S. Open in 2000 followed by winning by eight at St. Andrews, and they were two phenomenal performances. I would put Bernhard Langer's performance here in 2014 right up there with them.

Incredible performance, to beat the field by more than three shots per round, every round, doesn't happen very often at all, and hasn't happened for 14 years since Tiger did that at the U.S. Open. It was a phenomenal performance and something he'll look back on I hope over his lifetime and think that was the best performance he had ever put together.

I was delighted to beat the rest into second place, as you say, one of the few players to be under par, and that shows the strength of this course. Even as bouncy and hard and as hard as the course was playing, only five of us managed to be under par.

Looking at the weather conditions this year, although it softer, so the fairways are, therefore, by definition, wider. Because they are softer, it's playing an awful lot longer. I would have to say 20, 30 yards longer per hole, which is in itself an issue for us over 50. But we have this wind to contend with, as well, and I think the weather forecast suggests that it's going to be like this, -ish, for most of the week. I think it's going to settle down a bit at the weekend.

But 15 miles an hour wind on a links course is more like 30 on a parkland course because you're much more exposed. The ball spins off the tightest surface here on a links course and a ball spinning is a problem. You've got to keep the ball down with no spin, as opposed to a ball spinning in the air. It's going to be a real challenge here to get anything, anything around level par is an exceptional total for the week.

TOM CARLISLE: We last spoke at the Senior PGA in Washington where you were just coming back from injury. How would you sum up the year so far?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's been obviously stop/start. Started off okay the first three or four tournaments, and then I injured my ankle. I tore two ligaments straight through. I tore them in half, and I was one stage from operation and thank goodness it wasn't. But for those in the know, a ligament takes longer than a day to heal, and I'm not sure it's healed 100 per cent yet but that's been nearly four months. You know, the doctors have said, well, you just have to take your time. But over 50, we don't really have that much time. You push the boundaries. At 21, you can take time. But at 54, no, you can't. So you want to get back as soon as possible. Probably came back a little quick to be honest and didn't really perform to my own standards.

But now, yeah, I feel as fit as ever, which is rare, and yeah, there's no influence at all now. So it's back as it should be.

Q. You'll be glad to hear that Bernhard Langer says he has a sore throat?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wish it was more than a sore throat. I wish it was an awful lot more serious.

Q. Jokes aside, how good a field this week and how hard will it be to win?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's a great field and it's getting stronger every year. The guys coming through are obviously younger; and therefore, age-wise, better. It's becoming tougher and tougher every year, and that's why Bernhard Langer has been beating the system hands down. He's 60 in October (August) and usually get five years at this, and he's 60 in October (August). So one, he's given us all hope; and the other one thinking, hang on a minute, is he totally unique in that way.

So it's an interesting phenomena, but yes, Couples I played with in the Pro-Am yesterday, hits the ball magnificently, Freddie. It's interesting, when he was in the Hall of Fame there, he was inducted the same year I was, 2013. We all have an exhibition of the memorabilia you've achieved over the years and his was this Senior Open Championship; meaning that it was his only R&A event that he had won. It meant a huge amount to him; that it took a place in his exhibition.

I felt very similar. I was second in The Open and second in the Senior Open and second in the British Youths and second in God knows how many R&A events, second in the Amateur Championship; and I haven't actually won an R&A event, and I would love to.

So one day, we'll see. But we look forward to the next few years. Rolex have been very generous in putting ten years into this event a few years ago, and we all look forward to this year and of course to next will be a phenomenal experience for us all to be playing at St. Andrews, the first time a senior event has ever been held there, and it will be a super event there. We all look forward to that.

But first and foremost, Royal Porthcawl is a superb golf course, underrated in many ways because of where it is. A bit like Royal Dornoch in Scotland, one of our great courses. But because it's not in that southern belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh, very few people have actually managed to play and there are some great courses in the north of Scotland, as there are here in Wales. Easily big enough golf course off the back tees to hold an Open here. It's just infrastructurally, it might not be able to do so. But as a golf course, well good enough to host the major and we're glad as seniors we're here, as well.

Q. Which ankle, and do I assume that it was because you were doing Pilates?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I was exercising. It was my fifth marathon in a row, and it was just too much for me. I couldn't handle it.

Left ankle, which is the worst one for a right-handed golfer, and I tend to roll my ankle coming through the ball more than most on my downswing, and so it's caused more trouble than it would be if it was the right. Going back, your right foot, it's planted static. So that's caused the problem.

Yeah, just feel that, as I was saying, it's better. I've said it okay but you know, walking six miles on ground that's not flat, you're up-and-down and across and getting in and out of bunkers -- some of the bunkers, I was in the one left -- you'll know the hole, John, because of course you're local here. But left of 11 yesterday, the 11th that's your -- whatever hole it is, but the 11th hole we play in the championship here. There's bunkers on the left-hand side of that green and they are extremely steep going into that bunker. You almost want to slide into the bunker.

I felt it then for the first time in a few weeks, walking around the side of that bunker because I was on a sidehill, so it was more difficult for me. But we should be okay. Should be okay.

Q. Is that one of your first serious injuries?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is. I can honestly say that I've never missed -- I had a sore back and what-have-you, but I've never missed a tournament because of injury until this. I had to pull out of four Champions Tour events, and I've never had to do that in my career. So I haven't missed a tournament through illness or injury for 30 years until this.

So I've been very, very fortunate. You know, the talk about these Order of Merits that I won in a row. Well, you can't do that in you're injured. Health is No. 1. I had to be healthy during that time, and I was lucky that I was.

Q. Can you talk about the challenges physically and mentally about playing in the elements out here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, this will be a massive challenge for everybody, both as you say physically and mentally. More mentally. Starting off with a hole that is dead into the wind, it will be a driver, 3-iron or driver 3-wood to start with, and that's downhill. Awful challenge that hole, to start with. And then you have the side, probably left-to-right wind on 2, 3, 4 -- even thinking about it is daunting. This will be a real, real challenge.

Yes, it was windy on Friday at The Open there, but Birkdale is less exposed than this. This course is more exposed than Birkdale. Birkdale tends to play into the hills, as opposed to this being on top. Yeah, the effects will be more dramatic here than they were at Birkdale, for instance, in that wind.

It will be a huge challenge. I can't see anybody -- and I'm saying that, in these conditions today, if it was the same today, I can't see anybody breaking par. And that's not because we can't play the game. We're very, very good actually, believe it or not, over 50, but the elements are such that they are going to win.

But see, that's the mental attitude now. You've got to accept that; that it's the winning score that counts. It's not how many under par you are. You know you've got to score less than everybody else, and if that's four 74s, it's four 74s, but you've beaten the rest of them. So you've just got to accept that you are going to make mistakes, and obviously that if you make mistakes, well, everyone else is doing the same thing, and it's sometimes difficult to accept that.

You think when you make a mistake or when you make a double-bogey or when you make an error, that you're the only one out there doing it, and you're not, and to you have to accept this tomorrow through Sunday. Try to accept the mistakes that you're bound to make.

Q. Are you more relaxed now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I'm more relaxed, I think so. I think I was very tense -- well, I know I was very tense, and anxious to do well for myself and my family and all the stuff that goes on, and you know, trying to make in your in life. I think you do realise you mature and you mellow and you relax. I think that I'm better at accepting now than I was then, yeah.

Q. Do you feel this year going into the Senior Open a little bit more comfortable, because last year you had The Scottish Open followed by this and The Open at Troon?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think so, it was a very heavy schedule last year obviously with playing in The Scottish Open in very high winds Thursday, Friday, and then having qualified for The Open, as well, going down to Troon, playing four rounds under pressure because of my affiliation there, and then going across to Carnoustie, it was a very, very busy month indeed.

I think year, I'm coming in here off a good performance at Baltimore at our Players Championship at Caves Valley there. I was sixth place there, and so it's given me confidence to come here fresher and ready to go and ready to try, as I was saying earlier, trying to win an R&A event. I've been a hell-of-a-close a hell of a lot. I don't think many people have been second in the amateur, second in The Open, second in the Senior Open without actually winning one, and so I'd love to achieve that goal this week.

TOM CARLISLE: Thank you for your time and wish you all the best this week.

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