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July 15, 2005

Colin Montgomerie


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Colin Montgomerie, 66 for a total of 137, 7 under par, and in second place.

You were saying the crowd out there was fantastic, the whole way around the crowd was standing. Did that help you towards your score today?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, obviously it did. Playing the two of us, it was a difficult start. When I was reading on the BBC sort of site this morning and it was "David Toms, DQ", and I signed his card last night, and I thought, "What I have I done now?" So that was thank god it was on him this time.

So Paul and I were left on our own, and actually it worked very well, although we had a long time to wait on certain tees. He's a friend of mine and a past sort of Ryder Cup partner and we get along well. It was like the practice round out there, the first nine, especially. It was great. The crowd were building up to see Jack's farewell, really. It was great that they stayed on another hour and a half to see me finish up the last. It was great.

The crowds were fantastic. I have a lot of respect for them and a lot of credit for them to stay on until, what, about half past 7 in the evening to watch me finish and help me home, because I was 3 under the last five holes there and you take that round here any day. But a lot of credit to them for helping me do that.

Q. I was just curious, as it stands right now it would be you and Tiger in the final pairing tomorrow. I was just wondering what your reaction to that is, will it be a fun pairing, a challenging pairing, what's your general reaction to that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm not going to say it's going to be fun, because everyone says it's fun when Tiger goes and shoots 80. So I'm not going to say it's fun, because, with all respect, this isn't fun, this is a major championship, this is a job of work and it's business, very much business.

So I wouldn't say it's fun. I look back on this week, if it all goes according to plan, and yes, you look back and say you had enjoyment.

All I can say if I am out with Tiger tomorrow, I look forward to it. I look forward to the crowd. I look forward to the whole atmosphere of the day. I've played with Tiger a few times now in major tournaments and major competitions and I look forward to playing with him and especially around a course like this. I do, I enjoy sort of watching him and enjoying the fact that the crowd are very much behind me here and playing at the home of golf in Scotland and I suppose the top Scottish player at the time, it's a fantastic experience for me tomorrow, and I do enjoy it.

Q. Do you think it's a home crowd tomorrow, and there will be more on your side?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I hope they'll be more on my side. If I was playing in Orlando, it would be different. But we're not playing in Orlando.

Q. Some of the players have said, "If Tiger is playing at his best, we're just playing for second place." Are they doing themselves a disservice and how do you feel about that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I think I'd have to go along with that remark. We have to it's terrible to say, even halfway, but there's a four shot cushion. Now we know that St. Andrews, a lot can happen around here. We have a number of bounces that can go either way over the next couple of days. There's a lot of uneven bounces out here and things that can go wrong.

But in saying that, if Tiger Woods plays the way that Tiger Woods can play around this type of golf course, I would have to agree with a number of other players that second place is what we're doing. Andy Roddick said it at Wimbledon, "I guess I'm just glad I'm the second best player in the world." So we are watching here a unique golfer on a unique golf course, and it will be a privilege, if I happen to play with him, a privilege to play with him tomorrow.

Q. In your own mind, it must be hard to try to not trail him?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Of course, if Tiger stutters at all, and stuttering is a couple under for Tiger, right, well that gives us a chance. And I mean us, there's a number of players. I just happen to be a leader of a very strong pack. And one of those pack is going to shoot low tomorrow. If Tiger does stutter at all it gives us a chance, of course it does. Then Sunday, a couple of bounces here and there, you never know what might happen. Of course I'm in a position of strength here, and I'm very happy to be in this position right now.

Q. "We're all playing for second if he's playing his best" comment, I think you said that yourself in Bay Hill, '99 era. Is the perception toward Tiger in the lead different now than it was back then?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Slightly possibly, but at the same time around this golf course we all know this particular golf course, St. Andrews, favors his type of golf. We have to play very, very well to contend. It's a bit like Federer at Wimbledon, if he plays well at Wimbledon, he'll win. And he did, easily.

Q. Are you happy with your putting right now, or do you think you can become even better?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I had seven birdies and an eagle today, and that's all about putting, because all those holes I had to hole a putt on. That's half the holes I was holing a putt for birdie or so, which was great today. And especially one at the last, it was uphill, and I've been leaving putts short too much. As long as I follow through tomorrow, I'm hitting the ball fine.

I know my way around this course as well as anyone. I've been playing here in the Dunhill Cup days since '88. I've been playing here for 17 years. I know my way around the course. So I have to make sure I putt as well as I did today. If I do, I have a chance.

Q. You have been here before. Do you feel at this stage in your career you go into the weekend more at ease with yourself and perhaps more relaxed about what's in front of you than you have done in the past?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think when I led at Lytham after two days in 2001, I don't think I was that relaxed. I'm pretty relaxed right now, actually. It's nice. It's funny at Lytham, I missed a putt, about a 5 footer, to go two ahead Friday night, and I knew then deep down I wasn't going to win, and I was still one ahead. And this time I have come off and I've holed about a 12 footer for a birdie at the last. And it's a big, big difference. It's a big change of mental attitude from one to the other. I know I'm four behind Tiger, but at the same time it's possible. Of course it's possible. If it wasn't possible we'd stop it now and all go home. So of course it's possible. Anything is possible around here.

Q. Sort of following on that, it seems that we've gone almost full circle on the Tiger thing in that now you guys almost seem like there's less pressure in this situation, because everybody expects that, everybody expects him to sort of follow through with his lead.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, well I'm sure you guys were expecting something like that today, 66, 67. That seems to be around about the par mark for him on this type of golf course. And if he's playing the way he is doing right now, 22 under will probably win (laughter). So we have to hope, and I hate to say that, but we hope that Tiger sort of stutters a bit and scores, say, 4 under at the weekend and then there's half an opportunity, yeah.

Q. But you could sort of just let it free wheel?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, let it go today, sure, sure. You start at 1 under, and birdieing the first is a great start. You walk on the second tee and, okay, we can do this. Birdieing the first was key. The pins I felt today were in quite generous positions, I felt, and everyone else has said. But I felt they were in quite generous positions for an Open Championship. We've seen them here in the Dunhill Links Championship with amateurs playing sometimes, but not in The Open. And I would expect the pins to be in tighter positions tomorrow. And if you do go for these pins you can end up in trouble. You have got to be very careful tomorrow, as you have all days around here.

Q. You had an amazing couple of years of highs and lows. How proud of yourself are you that you're sitting in the position you are now? Can you imagine what it would be like to come down the last and win on Sunday?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I can't imagine that here, as yet. If that does happen, I'll let you know how it feels, but not right now. I'm just happy that I've gotten back into a position where I feel more comfortable than I do scraping around about the cut mark. And I've scraped around the cut mark for the last two or three years and it hasn't really been much fun. It's nice I'm pulling out of that now and getting into contention in tournaments and it's much better for me. I'm much more relaxed and more comfortable in this position than I am any other.

Q. You said the other day that you arrived here "on form" and gave yourself about an 8 out of 10. Is this pure vindication of that, or have you surprised yourself a little bit in this round?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, this particular round, 66 in a major is always a good score, whether the pins are generous or not, you've still got to go and do it. So, yes, as I said, I finished second just a couple of weeks ago and that gave me great confidence. And as I said, my game is about 8 out of 10. But I give my putting about 9 out of 10 today, which is much better. I don't often give myself much at all. So that's a huge step in the right direction.

Q. Apologies for bringing up the third round in Augusta in 1997, but are there things that happened that day that you can learn from tomorrow?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not really. I played okay, I shot 74; he didn't. And he went on and it was a phenomenal I was one of the few people to see that up very close quarters, came into you guys, mostly the same guys in Augusta, and he was nine ahead and someone asked me if he was going to win (laughter). And I said he was going to win by more than nine. And you couldn't believe it, but he did. He won by 11, I think it was, at the time.

And, yeah, I was very impressed then, as I'm sure I'll be tomorrow if I play with him. Or even if I don't, I'm always impressed with him and his attitude and his mental strength, more than anything. People talk about the length he hits the ball and everything else, but he's mentally the toughest of anyone out there mentally. Him and Steve Williams, a huge respect for him on the bag. It will be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow if I do have a chance to play with him.

Q. Granted that the challenging weather is to nobody's advantage, but given that you're Scottish and your familiarity with The Old Course and with the nuance of the golf course, would a little bit of wind and a change in conditions perhaps favor you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think so. I don't think so. I've never really done much use in a wind, to be honest, in any competition. So I prefer the course to play the way it's doing right now, actually. It was lovely out there today. It was a pleasure to play. This weather is always like this. The Scottish, you should know this, American visitors, especially. But we do sell a lot of sun cream here, don't we? And so hopefully over the weekend we had a great day's golf today with the bowing out of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods's great score. I'm just glad a few of them stayed on and helped me home this evening.

Q. How has your relationship evolved with Tiger? He gave you an invite to his tournament.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, he gave me an invite to the Target World Invitational at Sherwood in LA last year, and that was probably to do with the Ryder Cup performance that was put in not just by me but by the European team and I was two ahead the last day and he won. But it was nice of him to invite me, and personally invite me, as well. So that was very kind of him and I do respect him for that.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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