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February 25, 2004

Colin Montgomerie


SCOTT CROCKETT: Colin, thanks very much for coming in. Well done, well played. I think you said to the TV, 2 down with three to play, you thought you were on the plane home, so the victory must taste even sweeter.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, 2 down with three to go is never the right position to be in. I was beating myself again, and I'm good at that at this tournament. I was 2-over par for the day, and I had just bogeyed the 14th, and in the bunker at 15 and still 2 down with three to go.

Then I said to my caddie, I can't not hole a putt today. I hadn't holed a putt at all, and then I holed a 25-footer at the 16th, and that seemed to -- you know how it is in match play -- well, you probably don't. That's why you're there and I'm here. The standard is relative, I'm sure. That if something good happens to somebody, it tends to reflect on the other, as well, and it tended to reflect on him. He was driving the ball very well and then suddenly missed the fairway on the 17th and, therefore, made bogey through that, and then we were all square. Then it was sudden death.

If you're all square on the last tee, it might as well be sudden death. We managed to make two 5s up there, then I got a good up-and-down at the 19th to save it, and then a 4-iron -- 210 yards at the 2nd, 4-iron to about 15 foot and holed it, so delighted to come back that way to win three holes out of five at the end there.

Q. Did you feel after that putt on 16, did you physically see any of the air come out of his --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, he's a complete gentleman and a lovely fellow. And he said, "Well done, great putt, good comeback." That's what I didn't expect to hear. Put it this way: He wasn't getting that out of me if that happened. It was amazing. He's such a lovely fellow. I wanted not to like him for four hours, but you can't, he's such a nice guy.

So I mean, to say that, whether that was to help him cope with the next shot or not, I'm not sure. You'd have to ask him that. But that's what he said, which was remarkable, remarkable.

Q. A lot of fellows were mentioning that the greens were very bumpy and tough. Did you find that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. Only one group had it good, which was the Harrington match, I suppose, out first, very soft, had a bit of rain, and they're due to get softer. There's rain coming, isn't there, in the forecast? But there's less games, I suppose, but at the same time, they are quite bumpy and always have been here, really.

There was always talk about this west coast not having the best greens of the Tour, of the year. I don't know, I'm probably speaking out of turn, but people say that.

Q. Mickelson was talking about that the speed of the greens also were a little tough. They were bumpy and fast, he said.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: They were quite quick. You had to be careful. That's the worst that we play. Bumpy and slow you can almost manage, but bumpy and quick gets away from you and you can suffer.

Q. When you're in a situation like that where the ball is running up, does it cross your mind that I'm going to try and play well tomorrow or do you block it out?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You try and block it out, but having flown quite a long way to come over here, to get here on Monday evening and then to be 2-over par myself wasn't good enough, and I was thinking, Awe, dammit, I'll try and go home and obviously come out for Dubai, I suppose, but you hole a putt and the whole world seems a different place.

Q. And as we were talking about the other day, good for your World Ranking?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it can only -- it's helping, you know. We have a long way to go yet, but at the same time, you know, my record here is pretty poor, to be honest, bloody awful, in fact, and to get through round 1 is a start, and now we can only look forward to round 2 and see what's happening there.

Q. I'm sorry if you've gone over this, but without me, please, how long was the putt on the 18th and by how much -- how short?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It was about 15 feet maybe, and I left it -- 15, 18 feet, and I left it six inches, five inches short, a putt to win the hole up the hill, not very good really to leave that short, but I'd have taken extra holes standing on the 16th tee, so at the same time you don't do anything silly. You take extra holes and take the chances. It's like with five minutes to go you take penalties, and that's what playoffs are.

Q. Given your wonderful record in the Ryder Cup, is there any rhyme or reason why your record here has not been better?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. I haven't really come to terms with this course, to be honest, and there's certain conditions that this course is played under, I think the fast and the bumpier greens. It's always been damp here, always. I don't think I've come to terms with the conditions, to be honest.

Coming into the Ryder Cup you've got all sorts of practice rounds, you've got partners to play with, and then your singles record, obviously you talk about. That's about my ninth game of the week around a particular course, and you do tend to get used to it and you're more comfortable on it. On this course, I usually lose after one round, and I probably -- in five years I've played more in one Ryder Cup than I have in five years around here.

Q. What are you learning about yourself as you're grinding through this comeback and how far away do you feel you are from being back where you were?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. It's hard, you know, very hard. It's so easy to drop out of the top 50. I've proved it. It's so bloody simple to drop away, so easy to let it go and so bloody difficult to get it back again. You feel you can drop five spots, and to gain one or two is a real effort. So it is a bit of a grind. It's hard work. I've got to keep the family, as well, together, and I've got to put that first, and yet I want to get my career back on the go, as well, and it's very tough. As I say, it's a lot easier to go down than it is to come up.

Q. Was it just a case of reaching a point and everything just falling off or was it a gradual buildup?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, just a gradual buildup from -- I missed the cut at Riviera last year, the first tournament of the year for me, and came down here -- I missed the cut by one. And it's funny, I holed a putt from 20 feet at the last to think I'd make the cut. I missed the cut by one, came down here, lost to Alex Cejka here, then went over to Doral and Honda, missed the cuts there, missed the TPC and missed The Masters, and boom, from 15th in the world you're 40th. Suddenly the warning bells are out and the harder you try the worse it is. In any sport, I suppose, you've got to suddenly put this mind game in and try softer as opposed to try harder. How the hell do you do that when you're trying to -- what a stupid statement that is.

It's not easy, and I don't want to slide. I'm still ambitious enough and feel that I'm good enough to compete at this level still, and it was only a year and a half ago that I was doing my Ryder Cup thing to prove that I still can compete at this level, so it's not long ago, but since then it hasn't quite worked the way that I would obviously hope.

Q. You were mentioning your record, and I know you had not won here. When you finally won this match, was there a sense of satisfaction, of relief, I finally made it past the first round here?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, very much, very much. It was a big deal because I'm a great believer if you can't win the first game, you probably won't win the second (laughter). It's a big thing. Now I have a chance to go forward, and it's not good, just a win, but the way that it was won means a lot to me. When I had to hole a putt on 16 really, I did it. Okay, that's good, I've still got something.

Then having to -- given a chance, the door was open at the second hole, the 20th there, 15-footer left to right, okay, there's a chance here, and then hole it, that's okay. That's very, very satisfying.

Q. Listening to you, it sounds like you're actually trying to obviously get back in the Top 50, and to some extent make your career. Do you think you appreciated how well you played during your heyday, how well you were playing a couple years ago?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, you don't appreciate anything until you don't have it anymore. If I take away your car, you would have appreciated the old one, wouldn't you? And I'm the same. You take away my game, you don't tend to appreciate it when you have it. It was easy. I turned up, played, finished second or third and went home again. Now it's a little bit more hard work.

Q. Do you think that because of that -- I'm assuming that you will get back to a similar level. Assuming that, do you think that you will, A, appreciate it more, and B, be different with it?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've often said if I happen to win say -- I go back to the Order of Merit, because that's what I won and that's what I know. If I win an Order of Merit now, then it'll be worth more than all seven put together now. It was easy then. This would be a fantastic achievement if I can do something on that scale again, yes.

Q. Daly had a similar thing. He called his win two weeks ago the biggest one yet, even though he's won two majors.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, he won his last PGA nine years or something like that? Full credit to him. My last Tour win was only a year ago or six tournaments ago. No, I'm not in that position, but I can understand. If I was nine years doing this, I can understand what he means.

Q. Does that mean that today's win means a lot more to you going into tomorrow?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, sure, yes. Don't tell Stewart Cink that. I feel one up on the first tee, you know, somehow, finishing that way.

Q. Real quick, going back to that -- when you made that putt and Nick said, "Well done," you were kind of smiling. Could you have been that nice in that circumstance?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think so. Could you?

Q. No.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He's the only person in the field, I have to say that, probably -- I'm thinking of the field very quickly here. I think he's possibly the only fellow in the field genuinely that meant it, for one, and also would say that. Yes.

Q. Did it absolutely surprise you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think anything surprised me from Nick Price. He's such a lovely fellow.

Q. When was the last time you felt that inspiration, holing that putt on 16 and the 20th, being able to sort of raise your game for that inspiration? When was the last time? The Ryder Cup?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly, yes. That was when it was needed, yes. That was when it was needed, not against Scott Hoch possibly, but playing with Langer, yes, whoever we were playing.

Q. Just to follow up on the Ryder Cup, what are your feelings about that? Obviously you want to make the team. How much of an inspiration is that this year? Is that inspiration a result of -- is that why you're playing golf, one of the reasons why?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'd obviously like to make the team. I got off to a very poor start, have to do something about it to get into the -- we have a different system now, you're probably aware, getting into the top 5 in the world or the top 5 on the Money List, and if I'm not in that, I'll have to be real nice to my friend Bernhard, who's got two picks, but that's up to him. If I don't make it on that way, well, we'll see about the other route in.

I said I never wanted that other route in, ever. The first Ryder Cups, I led the qualifying, so -- I said I never want to be picked, but in this situation it would be nice to play again. I do enjoy it. I don't think I'm an easy opponent to play against, and hopefully I would help the European cause. I can say that to Americans here. But if selected, that would be my job. Of course it was, as anyone selected would hope to do.

Q. I don't know you that well, but you just seem so much more comfortable right now than you have here in the last couple years. Is that because you're finding your game a little bit better? You just seem more at ease with yourself.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm more confident in myself, yes, been through quite a bit recently, and I'm more confident with myself, yes. Win, lose or draw now, I'm more comfortable with myself.

Q. Is that because of experience?


Q. Or experiences?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: On and off the course, yes. I'm happier with everything around now, and if that's showing, that's good.

Q. It sure is.

Why is that, Colin, you're happier with everything around? Where did that --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't want to go into it, but there's all sorts of problems -- marital problems before, and that has been sorted out, and health of children, and that's all sorted out, so golf takes on a whole new different meaning then, you know, without going into it, a very short answer.

Q. We're used to those, short answers.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You are, are you? Sorry. Okay.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Colin, thanks very much.

End of FastScripts.

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