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December 7, 2005

Colin Montgomerie


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Colin, for joining us for a few minutes here at the media center at the Target World Challenge Presented By Countrywide.

You won your eighth Order of Merit just recently.


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Nice victory last week, and you're coming back to a place you had pretty good success at last year. Talk about the last year and we'll go into questions.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I enjoy coming here. Last year I was leading in the last round. Tiger came through and won, which was super. But I enjoyed the experience last year and look forward to playing again this year.

This year, 2005, was good for me to come back into things from where I was. 83rd in the world is no good. I'm in the Top 10 again, which is where I feel more comfortable. I look forward to progressing next year.

Q. Top 10 again�was it a goal or was it not possible?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I had a goal of a top 25, to be honest with you, which is a long way off from 83rd, I assure you. That was a goal, top 25. This has been a bonus to finish the year the way I have with a couple of late wins and a goods performance at the WGC event in San Francisco.

It's been a great end to the year and hopefully I continue that through to next year. Next year's goal was to try to get into the Top 10. So next year's goal is to try to stay in the Top 10. We'll see how that goes. That's always next year's goal, to stay where I am really.

Q. Last year, did you question your golf or was it your personal problems that brought you down?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I never questioned my golf. I can do this. This is what I do best. I can do this. I never question my golf. It's just sometimes when outside influences are affecting you, you tend to some players in the past have questioned their golf, and I was fortunate enough to not to question my golf and just to be patient, if you like, and it's coming right again, which is great, especially at my age, which is getting on a bit now. It's nice to know it's still there.

Q. Tiger likes for this to be an international field as much as possible

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, all credit to him for inviting international players and for international players to come over and play. It's super. I think a lot of international flags are flying above the leaderboard, which is nice to see. He is an international player. He's traveled the world. All credit to him for doing that. He doesn't just stay on this continent. He travels continents and shows the world how good he is. And people want to see him. And he does very well. He sees that and invites international players to his event, if you like.

Q. Why do you think international players have done so well (they had to get into this field on their ranking).

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: International players have done well this particular year, especially European players. We didn't have many in the top 20 at the start of the year. Now there are a whole bunch, David Howell has done well, to Paul McGinley coming through, to Darren, to Luke Donald, myself, to Garcia, Harrington, we've done well to get back into it now.

It comes in fits and starts. Sometimes you have a number of players in there and sometimes you don't. We went through a period in the early '90s where Europe held the top 5 places in the World Rankings and now we're coming back. We're coming back into some sort of form, if you like.

Q. What was your schedule since San Francisco?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's been hectic. I've had a hectic schedule since San Francisco. I played in the Madrid Open and Volvo Masters. I went back to Asia and then on to Tokyo, and then I had to come back to London and went out again to Hong Kong from London again, and across from Hong Kong to here. I've traveled a lot recently, to say the least, and this is the final leg of a very long season.

I look forward to actually Monday. Monday evening I fly and I get home Tuesday morning into London. And that should do me. I'll collapse then.

Q. The European Tour has already started.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it's still going.

Q. Will you play tournaments in Asia or will you take a break?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'll start about the third week in January, I believe, which is the Abdabi tournament. That gives me about three and a half, four weeks off at home which is great. I can unpack some boxes. I have loads of boxes to unpack. I'll do that into my new home, and that will be great.

I look forward to doing that, taking some time off to spend with my children and come back Sunday refreshed for Abdabi. I'd like to take more time off, but that's the way it is right now. There's no more time. The season is fuller than it's ever been before, and it is a Ryder Cup year. There is a lot to go for this particular year.

Every even year is important for us all, all Europeans and Americans, I suppose. We've got to get in the team as soon as possible. I've made a great start to it. I'm not in it yet. There is more work to do, and I'd like to seal that position up as quick as possible, so there's no pressure when it comes down to the wire when people are trying to fight for the places.

Q. You didn�t have much of a choice this year. You had to travel with your schedule?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I didn't have any choice at all. I couldn't afford to sit at home and on my backside and hope to gain in the World Rankings, that doesn't happen. The only way to gain in the World Rankings is actually putting scores on the board. So I had to travel. And I wasn't in the likes of the World Match Play here, down in Carlsbad, or the TPC or Masters, I wasn't in any of these tournaments, so I had to play elsewhere.

And on the European Tour I had to travel to southeast Asia and to Asia and to Asia again, and to try to gain some world points and to gain some confidence, if you would like. And it worked. It was good for me. I had a lot of top 10s, which gave me confidence. And I managed to get in the top 50 just about June time for the U.S. Open.

Q. Did you feel you were as bad as No. 83 or as good as number 10 right now?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. Yes and yes. Worse than 83rd and better than 10. 83rd was terrible when you think I was No. 2 for a year in 1997. That year I spent at No. 2 in the world and then you go down to 83rd. 83rd is not much fun. It was quite difficult to travel that much and have to play, but I'm glad I did now and it's worked now and I'm back to where I feel a lot more comfortable.

Q. Is No. 10 a mental number? Your season turned around at Dunhill, how important is No. 10 as opposed to maybe No. 11?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Nothing. It doesn't really mean you know you're not going to get to No. 1 for a while, so I have to be realistic, and a realistic goal was when I got into the top 20 was, okay, just to stay around there, really. This has been a bonus to win last week and also the Volvo Masters and WGC event was good for me, that was an extra bonus. But anywhere from 10 to 20 I'm very happy with, at my age. Yes, I'm quite content with that right now. You have to be realistic.

Q. The journey from number 83 to inside the top 10, did it start here last year�you played so well here.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Vijay managed it for a while. So yes, therefore it is realistic for others to achieve. There is a big gap now. Obviously there is a huge gap now, the way Tiger has performed the back end of the year, especially. But yes, of course it's realistic, yes.

Q. Start of the year or last year because you've played so well?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's a very good point. I was in the middle of a run of Top 10s, but this was the third of 11 or 10, Top 10s in a row I had, and this was important for me to prove one, to get invited, which was great after the Ryder Cup. So Tiger, thanks to him for inviting me. And two, to honor the invite by playing quite well. And to lead the field by two shots going into the last round proved that I belong, if you like.

So it was very important. Although I didn't win, that really didn't affect me that way. I was just glad that I was involved in the last group coming in the last hole. I thought, "That's better. That's where I feel I should be." That was a confidence booster, of course it was, to finish the year and then to continue to start off with a few Top 10s at the start of this year, very important.

Q. Have you played much at Hoylake?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't played there at all. I haven't played the course at all at Hoylake. As an Open venue I think it will be very, very good. Obviously there's been some changes since they've played any other tournament there. There are some new tees, as there has to be with an Open. Even St. Andrews had four new tees. So if they can change that, they can change anywhere.

There will be some new tees that the members haven't seen before, and I think it will be a good Open venue. It's been a great course for 100 years, we just haven't used it. I think it will be a super venue. As regards to playing the course, I haven't played there. I haven't been there.

Q. Considering where you started, does this Order of Merit title mean more to you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it does, it means more than any individual one. Than any individual one, it means more, yes.

Q. What are your goals in 2006?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: To stay in the Top 10. If I stay in the Top 10, I need to win at least three times to stay in the Top 10. So that takes care of itself. So to stay in the Top 10 is a goal for next year, the only goal, really.

No, that's never really been I can't say that's ever been a set out goal. I just want to do as well as I can. And if that happens, it's a bonus, right. If I'm in the Top 10, I'm performing quite well, therefore I have a chance in a major. That's all I can say.

Q. Are you going to play more in the US?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not particularly, no. I'm in three more events that I wasn't in. So I'm in Match Play and the TPC, the Masters I'm going to play in. So I've taken the one in between. That's four more tournaments I'm going to play in the States than I was last year. I played about six this year, and I'll play about 10 next year.

Q. This is the year of the 300 yard drive. Is your driving distance a concern for you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because I'm hitting the ball too far, you mean? Yes, I think it's affected us all. I think the longer the courses go, the more us over 40 tend to have more of a problem with the longer drives. I've always been an advocate of hitting the fairways. If I can hit the fairway 90 percent of the time I'll hit the green.

Q. Have you been trying to get greater length?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I've worked with Yonex two weeks ago in Tokyo to find actually yardage, yes. We all have to. There's no point in standing still because you'll be overtaken. All these guys coming out here bombing it 320 years. 320 years, I need it downhill, downwind, with a favoring current (laughter). These guys don't these guys are hitting the ball much farther, so you have to be worried. Of course you do.

But I've always been No. 1 on the tee for me is to put the ball in the fairway. Not how far it's going to go, it's how straight it's going to go.

Q. Vijay Singh does not care if it is in the fairway

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's his deal, okay? There's only one way I'm going to beat anybody at this game, is by playing my own game. I cannot beat people playing their game. That's pointless. I can't go out there and beat Tiger doing what he does. I can't swing 150 miles an hour, right? He's going to beat me at that game every day, okay?

The only way I'm going to beat Tiger is to score lower than him. That's the only way I'm going to do it.

Q. Did you ever have to learn the lesson the hard way anywhere in your career?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I think we've all been taken in by what's Tiger done. And I think we've all been affected by what Tiger has done, and the length he hits the ball, and the length the whole thing has gone. But then you realize you're not going to do that. You're not going to beat him at his game. So I'll play my game, what I do best. That's all I've got. And then to score lower, which means I've got to hole putts. Of course it does, we all do.

Q. Do you remember the first time you played with Tiger at the Masters?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Vividly. (Laughter). Do you want a play by play here? If you've got about four and a half hours I'll go through every shot, if you want me to.

Q. The first time you played with him, has he achieved what you thought he would?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE:You mean to win 10 majors before he's 30? Yes, that's achievement, definitely. There is no way he was going to do anything less.

Q. So you were convinced from the first round?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE This wasn't a flash in the pan or just a fluke or just a day that it happened. Sometimes people have had four days where it's happened. It's worked and they've won a major. This was number one of many. And we haven't stopped yet, have we? There's 10 more already and there's many to come, I'm sure.

Q. We think the transcript in 1997 Masters was better.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE '97. I've said that. I'm not saying it again (laughter).

Q. Talk about the new tees at Augusta?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE It is indeed. No. (Laughter). I haven't been there and I haven't seen it. I've seen aerial views that appeared in one of your magazines, I believe, American magazines, some helicopter shot managed to get over him in the dark. I have not seen. But my goodness, it looks very, very different again. And every year we go back there, there are changes. There are certain holes now where it's going to be very, very difficult.

I think the Masters this year, you'll find that 72 is a very good score. Around there in par you've done very, very well. It's become very, very difficult.

Q. Is it the length?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE Of course hitting shots into it's not just the length, it's the design of the greens and the way the pin locations are, hitting a longer club in. Of course, there's less spin, there's less control, and of course that ball is going to go off into positions where you don't want to be, and sometimes you can't two putt.

The whole thing gets more difficult every shot you hit. Yeah, not just because of length, but the overall firmness and hardness of the thing. 72 I think becomes a very good score, it has the last three or four years, 72.

I think scoring at the Masters has gone up over the last five years. The days of scoring 64 or 65 around the Masters course, I think you'll find this year, a thing of the past.

Q. Is it another example of lengthening a course to aid players to hit it further?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think that might be the case. It will be interesting to see what happens. Chris DiMarco did very well last year, but I think he had to play at the very height of his game to compete with players at that course. It will be interesting to see who competes this year.

Q. At Augusta, the first hole, on the last day, DiMarco was 75 yards behind Tiger in the fairway

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, some of the holes are shaped like that. The way the first hole, he's not getting to the top of that bank anymore. And Tiger is flying onto the flat and of course getting the run. There is a huge difference in some of the holes because of that.

17 is another way, where Tiger is on top and we're on the upslope. The first hole I think has gone back even further this next year. So yes, he'll be 90 yards behind this time. It gets more difficult. 75 yards is a hell of an amount. To compete hitting into a green that doesn't want to accept that type of iron shot, and the control is lost. So Chris DiMarco did awfully well last year to compete against that type of play.

We'll see this year. We'll see who comes out, how the pack of the short hitters can compete. And it has to be someone who putts like Chris DiMarco does, really. Very, very well.

Q. You will be glad to know that Couples used 3 wood on number 14 when he played at Augusta.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Apparently that tee has gone back into the back woods on the right, it's a 3 wood now. That's super. That means I can't get up. I think my handicap has gone up on that hole, on that course. If he's hitting a 3 wood. Freddie still hits the ball very, very well. Amazing.

Q. Going back to the Open, it is one major you have not contended in going back to St. Andrews.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE I think I've had great support. It's been fantastic support I've received over the last two years. I've been lucky in a way that the last two years have been in Scotland, with Troon and then St. Andrews, and Troon being my home course and St. Andrews obviously the home of golf. I was fortunate that I've had two great supports, and I think that has carried me through to bigger and better things at the Open.

Q. Why do you think you were not successful in the Open for the last couple of years. Did you put a lot of pressure on yourself?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE I think I relaxed a little bit more. A lot of pressure was on me when I was No. 1 in Europe. I think I was expected to do better than I possibly could have done. A bit of pressure on myself, as well. I think the more I've relaxed, the more I've given myself opportunities.

In the Open, especially this year, the first two days, the 66 the second day was very relaxed. I was playing with Paul Laurie. David Toms had to pull out. We didn't know he was actually quite ill. He had just been in the hospital. Paul Laurie and me, we're goods friends and we went around in a leisurely manner at the Open and it was quite fun.

Q. What about Saturday?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Saturday wasn't leisurely, no. It wasn't leisurely. That was an unbelievable Saturday. It even affected Tiger, to a certain extent. I think one of the few times he has been affected early on in a round. At the turn he was getting it back again. But I think it affected him the first couple of hours it did. I don't think he was expecting it. A lot more blue than there was red.

End of FastScripts.

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