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July 12, 2005

Colin Montgomerie


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Colin Montgomerie.

Colin, the course is playing very fast now. Do you think you're going to be the first British winner for a number of years of the championship?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's a very good question. I would love to be, okay? Especially here. This is a unique event, in many ways and every way. And this would cap off a fantastic career of mine. So, yes, I come here full of hope, as I do every year for an Open. And this year is slightly different. I come here on quite good form, really, and I look forward to it in every way.

Q. The weather forecast for the week seems to be pretty good.


Q. Are you more at ease in the kind of conditions that we have today, rather than if it's the proverbial howling gale?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The proverbial howling gale is not my cup of tee. And no one looks forward to the proverbial howling gale. I think we would all choose this weather condition. I think the course has been set up superbly. It's green and yet it's fast running, which is a perfect links setup.

I was talking to the head greenskeepers, an older Strathallian (school) than I am. It was his first major, and I said I'd like to make it mine, as well, which is nice. He set it up very well. The greens are as good as I've ever seen them here. And it all depends on where they decide to stick the pins. They've made the course a lot tougher, as everyone seems to be saying. There's a lot of formidable tees out there.

And the scoring is always slightly higher than they think around here. Always if you get around here in less than 70 you've had a good day, and you've been in control of your golf ball and you've been in control of everything else around. And anything under 70 is always a good score around here, whatever the weather conditions, especially in The Open where they put the pins. We know the pins are going to be hidden behind certain hazards, and they've got to be avoided.

Q. You said you were going to work on your putting. Did you change your putter to a belly putter?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, a slightly heavier putter, which is slightly between a normal and belly putter. I've changed the weight of the putter. I was out on the second green last night, the 2nd and the 16th share. It was beautiful out there last night, and I had a good practice session there. And I'm going out to play shortly a round about 4 o'clock today and come in the back nine. And it's a good time for me to play, when everyone else has sort of gone home, if you like, and it's a good time where I can sort of do some practice and I look forward to playing here this evening, as I always do around here.

This is a fantastic venue, and we always get the best entry. It's always a record entry. Every time it comes to St. Andrews, everybody wants to play here. And there's a reason for it. It is unique, and it has to be the best venue, doesn't it, really?

Q. Why the heavier putter?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why the heavier putter? It's more control. I don't have to swing the putter as hard to get the ball to go as far. That's about as technical as I get, really.

Q. Last week you talked about being more relaxed at playing golf and not letting things get to you as much on the course, I think. How much of that is a factor now, going into an Open? Does that enhance your chances?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so. I've got a good draw, as well. A lot of influence is who I play with and what time. I've got a good draw, I have Paul Lawrie, a Ryder Cup partner of mine, a good friend of mine, and of course a past champion. We get along great. And David Toms and I are good friends. We had a practice round at Pinehurst as well, last month there. So that's a good draw for me. There's no bombers in that group. There's no major massive hitters. We're all about the same type of length. We all play a similar type of game, which is good. And it will be good for me to be tested against David and Paul and see if I can come out on top the first two days. It's a good challenge for me.

I pay a lot of influence on who I'm paired with. And we'll just see. I'm going in here with confidence and you never know. We all know, every golfer that plays the game understands it's a crazy game at the best of times and we go in and we see what happens.

Q. You've kind of answered my question to some degree, but I was going to ask you about playing with David Toms, and just basically the memories you've got going up against him, and does it make that much difference who you're playing with in a major tournament?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Right. I played a practice round with him, as I said, at Pinehurst, and the words "Ryder" and "Cup" were never mentioned once in about 7 hours, and I don't expect for it to be again. That's a different tournament, a different event, and we were paired together, and it all came down to sort of our game.

But we had a great game, and close game. It's always going to be very close between us. And it turned out that way. And he was a gentleman at the end and I respect that. And I'm looking forward to playing with him. And it does effect me who I'm playing with, but also the times. And I've got decent times. I like to know what I'm doing on Friday afternoon, and I'm off quite late Friday, off at 2:00 Friday. I like to know what I'm doing and I look forward to it.

Q. As usual, there is great interest in you this week. How do you explain the widespread fascination with your attempt at this tournament?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, shouldn't I ask you that question, because you're the guys that make it that way? I don't have a widespread fascination by this event. You guys seem to do with me. I suppose it's because I did okay in Europe for a few years, there, and I never won a major during that time. And I was probably supposed to have done so and I never did. I came very, very close a number of occasions and I never did.

And I've got myself back into order, back into gear and coming up the World Rankings, and I want to increase that this week again. Although I didn't gain any points last week, my points average increased. I've gotten closer into the 30s now, which is great. And I want to be in the top 25 at the end of the year and then move forward next. So that's what I'm here to do.

It seems to be your fascination with me in this tournament, especially in Scotland. I've been the top Scottish player for a number of years now, and I suppose that's why. And it's good that over half the Opens are played in Scotland and it's an honor for me to be the top Scottish player of this generation, if you like. And I'll always treasure that. But we'll see what happens. I get great support around here, and we look forward to Thursday.

Q. Is there any advantage for European Tour players in that this is a regular stop with regards to the Dunhill Links, or are the changes that have been made to the tees and the pin positions for an Open, do they make it almost completely irrelevant?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I think that's a very good question. I think we do have an advantage. I think the courses that we play on on a regular basis we do. I think that we come here on a regular basis. I've been saying I've been in this hotel now at least once a year for the last 16, 17 years, since we started playing the Dunhill Cup back in '88, since I first started. I've been here 17 years in a row in this hotel, at least once, because we play The Open, as well. So I've been here 20 times in my career, checking into that hotel and playing in a tournament.

And it must give you an advantage, as to people that travel from overseas having been here for the first or even a second time. It must be an advantage. I know my way around here. I know what to do. And I think it's a classic course of mistakes that you don't make that's going to win, as opposed to all the good stuff you do. I think it's the mistakes that you don't make, it's the lack of bogeys. And that's what Woods did last time, he kept out of the bunkers, and kept bogeys off his card and won by eight. It's amazing how easy it is on paper to do that and how difficult it is in practice. We all know where to go, generally, the players that have played here a lot. And I'm one of those. And I look forward to the challenge of putting the ball in that position.

Q. Could you comment on Jack Nicklaus playing in his last major championship and whether he had any influence on you as a young player?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I suppose everybody you know, I'm 23 years younger than him, but at the same time we all grew up watching him and the memories of '86, was it, I believe, at Augusta there with Seve and all that was going on there. It was incredible. And what he's achieved and will Tiger ever reach that 18 majors. Good luck to him if he ever does. It was a record that was untouchable. And now Tiger is coming. He's halfway there. It's amazing already.

But it will be some scene on Friday. But let's hope it's not Friday, let's hope it's Sunday. Everyone says Friday afternoon. When the tee times come out for that Friday afternoon, let's hope that he can prove everybody wrong and turn that Friday afternoon into Sunday afternoon. That will be fantastic if he can do that. That's his goal this week, I'm sure. But if he has to bow out on Friday, it will be some scene on that bridge on Friday afternoon, Friday evening. I'm about an hour behind him, so we'll get slowed up coming in, I suppose.

I'll be about on the 13th green on that stage, and we'll get slowed up, no doubt, coming in. All the credit to him coming over and making this his last one, because this is the home of golf. He understands that. And even speaking at the Memorial Tournament there was a tear in his eye then, two months ago, thinking about it. And it will be some scene on Friday. It will be a fantastic sporting occasion.

Q. You said earlier that you feel encouraged because you're on form coming in. If you could talk about exactly what you're doing that you feel so encouraged with. And when was the last time coming into this event you felt that encouraged?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay. Good question. Last year was different for me. Obviously playing on my own course in Troon was different, and I had a huge advantage there. I wasn't playing as well as I am now. I'm hitting the ball quite well right now. But this is a unique venue. Hitting the golf ball doesn't really correspond, because it's not the same type of golf course. This is a very unique place.

I'm just confident in every aspect of my game, about 8 out of 10, which is as good as it's ever been, really. So I'm quite confident that way. And it's all about, as I say, keeping mistakes off the card by trying to 2 putt instead of 3, and getting down in two if you have to. And I'm doing that a little better than I was over the last year. So that just gives me a bit of confidence. And playing in front of a Scottish crowd, as well, has to give me confidence, as well.

Q. When was the last time you felt this confident coming into this event?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I suppose '99. I had just won at Loch Lomond and if someone had told me that a Scott was going to win at Carnoustie, I would have said, "Thank you very much." (Laughter).

Q. Do you feel the Indonesia incident has been put to bed?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: All apart from yourself, obviously, I think so, very much so. That was months ago and it's been put to bed months ago, yeah.

Q. How many more chances do you think you have to win an Open?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As long as I'm flexible and fit, I've got a load of chances. And I've got a load of chances, many, many more. And now I've got myself back into order, if you like. I think that I've got five or six opportunities to do well in this tournament. And one of those years I'll be in contention, hopefully, and it just might work. It might be in five days' time, you never know. But I've got a few chances. I'm physically okay. I'm fit, I'm flexible, and as long as that remains I'll be okay. The nerves are still there.

Q. You made a call for more Scottish golfers on the world stage.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's 11 Scots playing here. Well, that's good. I was looking at the World Rankings, as you do, as you come up, and I was looking at them the other day, and I was shocked that there was only I'm in the top 100 of all things, which is bizarre, and there's very few between 100 and 200. And that's good. There's 11, and I'm sure there's a few qualified in that, and hopefully they will do well. 11 out of 156 isn't bad for a country as small as ours, I suppose. But we need more than that, not just 11 players. We need 11 players that will compete and will challenge. And we need more than that from now on. I would love to see more Scots doing well, as you say, not just nationally, but on a world stage.

Q. In talking about new perspectives in your career, looking back on the major, everybody seems to think, including yourself, possibly, that a major victory would define you as a golfer. Were you guilty of exaggerating the importance of that when you were so dominant in Europe? Did you make that too much of an issue looking back in your mind?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think the media made it more of an issue than I did, personally. I'm not blaming you guys, but at the same time you did make a huge issue of the fact about major championships with myself, and especially the closer I got to them, the more, of course, it was emphasized.

Hell, if I stop here and don't win a major and the odds are going against it, we have to be realistic here, I'll look back on the years I was No. 1 in Europe and the seven Ryder Cups I've played in and think, okay, well, that was quite successful, thank you very much, you know? And the fact that a few golfers played very, very well against me come in and did remarkable things at the right time to beat me in majors, all credit to them. And I'll go away from this game thinking, well, I've been highly successful at something I wanted to be at. The major championship, at this stage would be a huge bonus to me, but it wouldn't alter the way I feel about my career.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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