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July 15, 2004

Colin Montgomerie


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, Colin Montgomerie by 2-under par 69. That's your second best ever starting score in an Open Championship, and a good start to Troon.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I hope it's not my second best finish. So, yeah, I was delighted. I think there was a lot of press interest, media, interest and et cetera, on me this morning when I started, and I felt quite nervous, which was good in a way and I managed to par the first, which was important. I know it sounds strange, it's an easy hole, really, it's a 4-iron, 9-iron I hit, but it was important to par the first hole.

As soon as I parred the first hole I settled down and got into the round and had three birdies in the next five holes, which was good, and hung on at the turn. And then I made a bit of a mess and 10 and 11. I know more than anyone if the pin is at the right on the 10th, you do not go right. I hit a great drive, 8-iron in, 138 yards, and I came right off it and put it in the bank and made a double bogey. And that really stopped everything in a way.

And then 11, of course, is the most difficult par-4 on the course and I managed to make a very good 5. I holed a good 8-footer for a 5, after having a penalty drop. I hit into a bush off the tee. Because I holed that 8-footer at the 11th, it enabled me to probably birdie 12 and 15. If that hadn't gone in you never know the birdie at 12 might not have happened. But the crowd reaction on the 12th tee was important, on the 12th green, was important. On the 12th green the crowd knew I'd dropped. It was important for me to get back in red figures.

And a good birdie on 15 from about 20 feet enabled me to score 69. So I had taken it at the start of the day. And I'm obviously quite happy to -- if you can take a score and do it, I suppose you must be quite happy about it.

Q. The shot at 10, you weren't in a divot?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wish I was. I wasn't. It was perfect. Unfortunately, that was the worst thing about it, it was just a terrible shot I hit, unfortunately. I was aiming well left and it came right off it and pushed it down the hill. And anyone down there is suffering. Thomas went the same place and he left it down there. His first shot left it down there. And I hit mine far too hard. Not wanting to do what he did, I went right over the back of the green, and had to get up and down to make bogey. So we had a bit of fun there. Although they say there's no real rough here, and there's no real wind, it's still testing. Level par is still a reasonable score. And so 2-under is okay.

The pin positions are set in quite difficult positions for Round 1, I feel. There's places you don't want to miss it, on the sides where the pins are. And if you do shy away from them you're bringing a bogey in anyway. So the pins are set quite tight and the course is set up perfectly.

There's 156 happy competitors here at the British Open. I think everyone is saying how well the course is set up for the championship and I agree with them.

Q. You seem to be sort of disturbed a bit going to your birdie on 8?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, there were some cameras, unfortunately, on the top of the tower on the 8th that were just snapping a little bit too late towards my address position. Some cameramen here are new to the game of golf, possibly, because it's The Open Championship and there's a lot more cameras than normal and I'm quite quick, and when I've taken my practice stroke I hit the ball within about 4 seconds and sometimes they don't realize how quick I am. It's not their fault. I backed off the putt and I went back to it and had a golden opportunity there to go 4-under. It was a good shot in at the 8th, and I just happened to miss it. But that's one of these things. I don't want to put that as any headlines tomorrow, if you don't mind. I think you can write about other things apart from that.

Q. So you actually did well to get a par at the next?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I did. I did well at the 9th to get a par, always, because where that pin is at the 9th, right on that top level, just on that slope is a very difficult pin location, so always a par at the 9th is a good score, always.

Q. Can you talk about --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I can talk about anything. Go ahead.

Q. Will you talk about the reception you received from the crowd today? And also if you would describe the difference between the crowd here and maybe the typical crowd in the States?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's a book on that. Of all the eight championship courses that are used in the championships, this is the one that is the closest to me. I'm a member here and played from a young age. The support I have is much more than it would be for me normally. There's a lot more support anyway, from what's happened for me the last few months and they respect that, as well. So it's doubled in many ways, the support I have here.

And I'm now looking forward to getting out there at 2:00 tomorrow afternoon, and coming in about half past six. And the support will be fantastic. And I must admit I thank them terrifically for helping me out on the 12th green. When I approached the 12th green, knowing I dropped 3 shots in the last 20 minutes, that was fantastic and it enabled me to continue my rounds, and all thanks to them. So we know that the support is for me here and I'm delighted to have it. I think it enabled me to break 70. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have done so. It was all credit to them.

Q. In comparison with the States?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's volumes on that. I have over the years since 1997 at Congressional where it all went wrong. I think when I played in '99 in the Ryder Cup and also in 2002 in the Ryder Cup since Congressional in '97 I think I've had a lot more respect in the States and I do enjoy playing there. And I'm going back there for two tournaments in the next couple of weeks, the US PGA and the NEC and I'm looking forward to both of them. I don't want to say much about that. All I can say is I'm looking forward to going back there and playing, and upset really that I missed out on the U.S. Open. It's the first major that I missed in 51, and always felt that was the best chance of winning, was the U.S. Open, and it's sad that I missed out on, but there you go.

Q. Recently you've been quite open about your changing circumstances privately. I just want to ask how you've found adjusting to conditions at an Open, off the course, your circumstances. For example, are you with family? Are you dining with fans in the evening? Are you finding it radically different, or is it okay for you to prepare for each round?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. I haven't been open about my difficulties recently. I think that was done for me. And at the same time to eat in the evenings and stuff, I spend a lot of time on the road, we golfers, on our own. I have three children at full-time school so they have to be looked after at home, so I spend a lot of time out on the road on my own. It's different this week because I'm having to stay with my father, who still lives in Troon, and I've been dining -- I've been dining out in local restaurants. I've been around at the -- at my management headquarters here, along the road. So I'm not shying away from anything and I'm enjoying the whole experience, to be honest, of playing here in Open Championship. This Open couldn't have come at a better time for me or a better place.

Q. In a way is it quite uplifting, in a sense?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so. Very much so. This Open couldn't be at a better time, a better place right now for me.

Q. In the past you've gone double bogey, bogey, knowing that things may be falling apart. You held it together today. Is that a good sign mentally, knowing that you are mentally stronger than some people may think?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, if that happened two or three months ago it may not have happened. Level par after 11 -- if you look at the scores today, level par after 11, if anybody was better than 2-under from the 12th tee home after being level par after 11, you know, good luck to them. That's a good effort to be 2-under from the 12th tee in. And that was good for me today. But as I said, the crowd helped tremendously in that.

Q. You've mentioned the crowd, and just as a follow-up, you mentioned going out to restaurants. Have you noticed any difference in the way the public are acting towards you on those occasions off the course as opposed to on the course?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much, very much. From taxi drivers to London stopping to people in the street to people at airports to anybody I meet in the public eye, I suppose, and I'm getting terrific support from everywhere, not just on the golf course here today, from everywhere. The letters of support I'm receiving, written and through the office, through e-mail and through the European Tour office are quite incredible.

Q. The theme is always the same?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The theme is always the same.

Q. Right with you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Right behind you, yes.

Q. So you don't feel quite as alone as you might?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't feel as alone as you might feel I am, yes.

Q. Along with what you've just talked a little bit about how The Open couldn't come at a better time for you, could you expand on that? Is it the fact that obviously there's so much going on here, and you can focus on your game in a big championship like this?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I can go out here and enjoy myself, actually. And I did today. I enjoyed that experience today, whether that score is 75 or 65, I was going to enjoy myself, and I did today. Yes, it helps if you break 70, it always helps. But at the same time, I went out with one thought, and I told my caddy on the first tee, whatever happens today we're going to enjoy ourselves.

End of FastScripts.

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