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September 14, 2005

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Colin, we've already got rid of that guy, what's his name again, Els, this week, so must be a breeze for you this time I would think!

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think it's unfortunate for the tournament. I think that Ernie, having won it six times and having the record here and everything; it's a shame that he's not playing this particular year.

But the game, as you see tomorrow, the games, anybody in any game is capable of beating anyone else. So it all is going to be quite close games I feel. The standard between No. 10 and the world and No. 40 in the world is one shot. And one shot over a tournament, never mind just over 36 holes. So expect a lot of the games to come down to the last hole or even further.

You've got set for a lovely day tomorrow. I'm glad this is the first time that I've played in The Match Play since the conditions changed to 16 in the field. I was always hoping for that to happen. I was always against the fact that it was 12. The only time I won this tournament was '99, and I was a seeded player and it felt sort of, it wasn't quite right. But I had won three games and the person I had played in the final had won three games and they gave me a trophy. So it was slightly, slightly sort of in favor of the seeded players.

Now, of course, it's still seeded but everybody has a go, just like the tennis, I suppose. Federer has to play in the first round. He might win the first round, but he still has to play in it, and I think it's only fair that that's the case.

I think that everything's fine and it's set for a very good week. The course is in excellent condition and I think that it's set fine.

GORDON SIMPSON: I'm sure quite a few people in Europe haven�t seen your opponent (Mark hensby), but he seems to be a strong guy from what we've seen in the majors this year.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, my opponent has come up in the World Rankings in a big hurry over last two years, very quietly and very unassumingly, but has achieved it all the same. First three majors of the year, I believe he was in the Top 10 in every one, and Top 5 in a couple, so a very strong player, and again, capable of beating me any time, and I him, so I expect a very close contest tomorrow.

Q. Do you feel you've lost any momentum after hurting your hand?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I lost a bit of momentum, I did. I was ready to go at Gleneagles, the tournament after The Open and especially coming back in Scotland, I was ready to try and win. I haven't won this year and I really felt good about trying to win there and then that happens and it set back. And I couldn't practice and prepare properly for the USPGA and cost me the cut there unfortunately. But then I got back into it again at the NEC, I finished ninth there.

I look forward now to the end of the season. I've got a few good tournaments to play, obviously this one and the dunhill links and San Francisco and Valderrama and a few others. I'm looking forward to the end of the season to get myself in a position where I don't have to play catch up for the Ryder Cup positions. I had to do it last year and I never caught up at all; the last two years. The end of 2003 for me was very poor, and I found myself way back in the rankings and I never caught up.

This year I hope to be in that Top 10, so I don't have to play catch up the way I did before.

Q. What do you think the sponsors have to do to attract the top Americans here?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think the world revolves around the all mighty dollar, and doesn't it in every way. The American Tour I believe is a victim of its own success in many ways.

Not attracting the Americans to come over, I think that they still feel there's a safety issue here in Europe; I'm sure they do. And we try and tell them that it's okay but they have their own view on that one, being London and what have you. I think the American Tour is a victim of its own success in many ways. But you put up a last place of over $100,000, and it doesn't seem to be enough to attract the top American. And I don't know what else one has to do to be honest.

Q. Have you spoken to Tiger or Vijay

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I haven't spoken to them. Tiger is usually very good, though. He's one of the Americans that does travel. And you know, he's been to the Middle East and he's been to Japan, and he's been to Thailand with us, Johnnie Walker Championships and stuff in Thailand and he's been here before, as well. There's a few Americans that haven't, and you can't say that's they have a choice. They have a choice. The opportunity is given to them. If they have qualified or, you know, are invited, and they have a choice. We're all self employed and we can do, really, play in any tournament we wish to play in.

It would be nice for the British public and BBC TV, what we have here and everything, to have them, but if they don't wish to play, well, that's their own decision. Now, I can't say, yeah or nay against them.

Q. What would it take?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's just what I was saying. You put up a last place of $100,000; if that's not enough, what else is there, really? I don't know what you do. You're given a lovely home here with a chef. I don't know what more one can do, really. You're given a first class airfare here, as well. Again I don't fly from Chelsea, so it's fine. I don't really know what one has to do. You tell me.

Q. $500,000 last place money?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yes, that would work, I agree with you, but how far do we have to go? That seems inappropriate to me.

Q. Is it the scheduling, the fact that the Presidents Cup is next week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I believe it's Presidents Cup opposite the Seve Trophy, that's right. The Presidents Cup is next week, so they feel obligated to their Tour, again, I suppose to play over there, but again it's their decision.

I'm glad there's a few Presidents Cup players playing here. I believe Michael Campbell and Mark Hensby, is it, and Elkington here, there's a few Presidents Cup players which is nice, which is good. All credit to them; Goosen, and I'm sure Ernie would have played here if he'd been fit. So that's half their team would have played here, which is great.

Q. Is there any concern for the image of the game, the chefs, the home, the first class tickets

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I know where you're coming from. Tell you what, I'll always be here. I can't speak for anyone else unfortunately, but I'll always be here. The chef really is the main thing. I'm a terrible cook. (Laughter).

You know, I'll always be here. I have never got to that stage in my life. This is wonderful. Especially match play; I love this tournament. I love being here. So that doesn't affect me and I can't speak for everyone else really.

Q. But what�s your opinion?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know, that's for you. That's your opinion, really, I suppose. I don't really have one for other people. I can't have one for other people. I haven't spoken to them. If I'd spoken to them I could say to you, yes, I've spoken to him and he thinks that, but I haven't. So I can't speak for them really.

Q. But can you try�.?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You're trying hard, Derek, you really are, and so am I. (Laughter). Yes, I'd be very happy.

Q. The Order of Merit � would it mean a lot to win it this time?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, it would mean a great deal to me if I won here. I know it's sort of prorated as you're probably aware, the first prize doesn't equate to the first prize on the Order of Merit. It's pro-rated, which I think is right.

It would give me a great opportunity to overtake Retief. The way the draw has worked out, Friday is a day where if we both win, that we have to play each other, and that would be an interesting game. But we have to play on and see what's what on Thursday yet. But at the same time, I look forward to any challenge that's put against me right now. I look forward to any match in match play, I really do. As I said earlier, I really love this format and this week and I look forward to it.

So given the opportunity, put it this way, a year ago, even to talk about this at this stage would be a dream. So it's fantastic that I'm in this position.

Q. What makes you a good match play player?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I hate to lose. That makes sometimes that just makes me win. It just sort of falls out that way. If you don't lose, well, the opposite of that is winning, so it's actually, I hate to lose. So that makes me a good one to one.

And I do enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of a one on one. I much prefer playing against one guy than I do against 155 others and not quite knowing what's going on. Suddenly you've got a leaderboard and you're on the 15th hole and you started at the 10th and someone else has started with five birdies and you're five behind and you can do nothing about it. You don't see him, don't feel it.

Playing one on one, you see everything that's going on in your particular match and what's happening. I do like that. I do like that feeling. And I've had a reasonable record. I'm not saying it's great but I've won this before, which is great, and I've got a reasonable Ryder Cup record and I'm proud of that. As I say, everybody is capable of beating anyone else this week, and I'll just go out tomorrow morning and try my best.

Q. Marks out of ten this year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay, compared to last year, nine. Compared to the 90s, six.

Q. What do you expect it to be at the end of this season?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Halfway between the two.

Q. Does it make tings fairer to have a 16 man field now?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. First few years, I wasn't seeded and I think there's only two people in the history of the event have won from not being seeded. I think it was a great disadvantage at that stage. Now it's a more even contest. As I said earlier, I do prefer that. I think that had something to do with it.

Ernie beat me in the final in '94, but I wasn't seeded, and I felt disadvantaged then. I happened to win it in '99. But it's just one of these things, you just take your chances. I felt I played okay and people had played better. I lost a few 38 hole games, you know, that could go either way. I lost to Faldo, I lost to Westwood at the 38th hole and they could go either way.

Just one of these things, you just always, always when you win any event can you look back and say you're fortunate somewhere. Never, ever have I made a winning speech and said I was unlucky, never, and I never will. Because always, somewhere on the second round or second hole, you got a break and you won that particular game and got the momentum going for the next day or whatever the case may be.

So there's always some turn of luck, of fortune that has to run your way. And it's a lot of golf. It's eight rounds over the four days and a lot going on, and you need the odd break, and possibly never had that.

Q. People often win the week after missing a cut - is it a blessing in disguise in your situation?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so. I take a missed cut now as a blessing in disguise and find out what went wrong or what was wrong, and use it. Use it as a positive step, as opposed to a negative one. I came back from Germany having missing the cut. That's the third year in a row missing the cut on a course I've won on. Went down and found something I wasn't doing and come here full of confidence. We'll see how that works. But yes, sometimes it is a blessing in disguise.

Q. Do you believe that it was your comments about the seedings that made the changes?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I've always said that. I don't know how possibly I don't know whose decision, whose final decision that was to actually change it from 12 to 16. But it has to be that 16 is a fairer system. There's 128 guys start the tennis tournament, and it's only right that there should be an even number in the knock out stage, there has to be 8, 16 or 32. 12 has never, to me, figured. But that was always my view. And I'm just glad that it's 16 now.

Q. How much has moving the tournament date up by a month changed the nature of this course, and will that make it easier over four days?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's warmer, that's the main thing. You can't rely on the rain or the wind, but at least it's warmer. I think that's better for everybody, a bit of warmth, especially the mornings. It used to be quite cold in the mornings, especially 7:30 kickoff, it was very cold, a month later. But this is at least warmer and it's made a difference for everybody I think.

Q. Will it play shorter?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would not say it's playing any shorter. No, the course has been well watered from above and from below. And I think the course is playing it's full length, I do. The course is playing as well as I've ever seen it, yeah. It's always a factor here, always tries to push it forward and always tries to beat nature I think in May. But here and now, this is the best time for Britain's golf courses, after summer's growth.

Q. Will you mention the Ashes to Mark hensby?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I have become British very quickly there he did indeed.

No, I don't think so. But you've got Britain against Australia now and we're 1 up, yeah, which is yeah, sorry, Bernie, cheap shot. Live with it; cope. We've had you've had it for 16 years, we can now.

Q. Should Ryder Cup points be awarded this week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think as an invitation, when the tournament was an Invitational field, I don't think Ryder Cup points should have been awarded. As it's a qualification field and having qualified for something, I don't mind that position.

If it was an Invitational field, I think yes, I would be against the Ryder Cup points. But because it's qualified, people have qualified for their good play, like qualifying for Valderrama, I suppose, there's Ryder Cup points there and it's only available to the top 60 that qualify for that; there's Ryder Cup points for it. So if you qualify for something, I don't mind that. But if it's an invited field, no, I think that would be wrong.

Q. Would you elaborate how deep does your disappointment go?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: When I do I don't know. Hopefully you don't find out this week. I don't really know. I don't know, I take a couple of hours and then I'm fine again. The eight people leaving this club tomorrow morning, feelings that there was opportunities or there was positions where they could have won or whatever. So, yeah, I think people will be a little bit upset tomorrow evening, of course, losing in the first round. But no shame to that. Everybody here has qualified for this tournament; and therefore, deserves to be here.

I think that yeah, just you are upset, you've lost but you're obviously lost to the better player of the day. After 36 holes, I think it's fair, it's a fair system. 18 holes is very, very quick. You could down an 18 hole match and it's almost away. You get down early here, you feel you've got lunch to work on it, you've got lunch to think about it, and then you come out again and it's different. You can change your clothes and you come out again and it's a different 18 holes. You're away again.

So I think that's the fairest system, I'm sure it is. And I have to say, there will be eight guys tomorrow evening that will go away from Wentworth feeling down, of course. They are not competitors for that reason.

GORDON SIMPSON: Colin, on that note, thank you very much for coming in and good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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