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October 29, 2003

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Colin, congratulations on winning at Macao and extending your sequence to 12 seasons, compared to Mr. Faldo's 11. Tell us how your game is coming into the tournament you're defending?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, obviously coming off a win, I was playing well last few weeks before. I actually played well in Atlanta. I putted awful and I had been putting badly. So I got my putting sorted out over in Asia; therefore, scored better.

It's nice to win. Doesn't matter, people say, oh, well, it's not the standard of Europe and America, but still, you know, you've still got to beat 150 guys capable of -- we are able capable of scoring 66 on any particular day. It's always good to win, especially when you're one behind on last. It's always important to keep a run going, if you like, and I want to keep a run going into Europe, as well. I left it very late last year and hopefully I'll leave it late again, but we'll see.

I'm playing well enough to win here. That's the important thing, I've come to a few tournaments this year, probably hoping to win, but deep down knowing that I couldn't. And this particular week, I know I can, so we'll see how we go.

GORDON SIMPSON: Valderrama seems to bring out the best in Colin Montgomerie.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I enjoy playing here obviously. I enjoy my time here. I enjoy everything about the course and how it plays, and look forward to it every year, yeah.

Q. What putter are you using now?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm using a belly-length putter.

Q. Why have you gone back to that one?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I only lasted with a short one two rounds, I believe or was it a round and a half. I think I took both out one round --

Q. Lancome?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The Lancome Trophee, yes. So that was awhile back.

Q. This new putting technique, whose idea was that, your idea or somebody else's?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wouldn't say it was a new putting technique. It's a confidence thing. When you see a putt go in, you tend to hit it harder, and I've been sort of looking at the hole in practice, and thought, well, why not try it in competition. So I'm looking at the hole now as I putt.

Q. That last week you decided that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, this is at Kingsbarns I decided that. The day I shot 65 at Kingsbarns and never saw the ball at all. It's a bit worrying the first hole I must admit because, just looking at the hole you don't want to embarrass yourself by actually fresh-airing it, yeah. You try other clubs, yeah. It's quite sore of a scary thought but as long as you don't fresh-air it, you're okay.

But it's amazing, if you're looking towards something, you do extend and follow through towards it. If you're throwing a ball to somebody, you don't look at the ball, you look at the target, where you're throwing that ball to somebody. And I found that I was looking at the ball and not the target, and the target is where it's got to go.

Q. You won last week, you've had a couple seconds this year in Europe, what sort of report card would you give yourself?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, very disappointing obviously. I look at the World Rankings more than I have the sort of European stuff and I started at 10th in the world this year and I'm now 38th currently. So that's the worst year I've had, obviously. I can put it a little bit to rights if I win here. I can put a little bit back again, but at the same time, even if I win here, it will be a disappointing year overall when you look at the year as an overall year.

Q. Do you look at the Order of Merit standing compared to the last dozen years?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, sure, I've got to win here to get to the Top-10 and I've never been out of the Top-10 since, when was it, '90 was last time I was outside the Top-10. Outside the Top 6 was 1990. That was a while ago.

Q. Any reason for it this year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think a lack of consistency. I changed the clubs, I changed the ball, I changed a few things, and I think I found I was listening to a few too many people long the way as opposed to listening to No. 1, which is myself. I lost a little bit of consistency over this year because of that. That's what I always pride myself on was my consistency and I think I've just lost that this year slightly. But, it can all be put into a little bet of perspective, if I can win here, really. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Sometime during the year you said that you gave everybody else about a six- or seven-week start at the start of the year.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That was another thing this year, as well. I had ten weeks off where I had a back problem and I had to -- I was advised to take ten weeks off at the start. And of course trying to play catch up nowadays, which is probably tougher when I came out in '95 and '96 when I tried to win Dubai and succeeded. I thought, well, okay, I'll do the same in 2003 and it didn't work. It's more of a problem.

Yeah, there was a lot of outside influences this year unfortunately what's caused the situation. But, hopefully we can get that out of the system and start earlier, much earlier in the year and get going, yeah.

Q. How important and how refreshing was it to get off the hamster wheel and get away across to Macao and get a victory over there, and does it bring you back to Europe and the Volvo Masters with perhaps added confidence?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, certain, certainly it does. I was on a sort of business trip as well over in Asia for two weeks and Macao came over in the middle of, and delighted to get a win in there and obviously helps everything around there.

It gives the whole feeling of a success. It was a very successful trip I had over there, and now I look forward to finishing off the season here, really. I've got two more team events to go, that's all this year. Seve Trophy and the Warburg Cup, and that's it for me. The next four rounds are very important for me.

Q. You're quoted at 28 to 1, is that a fair reflection of where you stand at the moment?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: 28 to 1, I'm not a gambler so I don't know what -- I don't really know what. That sounds awfully high. (Laughter.)

Q. You said you were going to start earlier next year, where would you start?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I think I might go to either -- has not been organized properly yet but sort of Johnnie Walker, middle of January, which is very early for me. I want to get going again.

Q. Will you go to America?


Q. Do you think if you have a similar season you will not be picked for the Ryder Cup?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's a very good question and a question that you have to ask the captain. (Smiling).

And sadly he's not here, but we made a rule and he stuck by the rule. I'm sure you can call him. I'm sure he's on the phone. You would have to ask the captain and see what's what.

Q. Do you feel you need to play better next year to be sure of a Ryder Cup spot?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's a very, very good question, a very unanswerable question and one that shouldn't be asked of a player and only one of the captain.

Q. Back to the question of equipment --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: But yes, I'll play in the Ryder Cup next year, yes.

Q. This time last year, when you finished up your victory press conference, there was a question about changing from what had been the clubs in your bag for your best years, when you made the decision to go to flat-blade irons, in retrospect, do you see that as being something which was a major mistake because you've actually come back since last year having not had a great year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question; should have stopped you halfway. I didn't change for the clubs, okay. The ball. That's why I changed, okay. I changed for the ball, not the clubs.

Q. Did you use clubs that were unfamiliar to you in shape?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not necessarily, I think the clubs are a ten percent factor. I think the ball is a 90 percent factor. I used the Hogan ball in the Ryder Cup, as you are probably aware and liked it so much, changed because of that factor, not because of the clubs.

Q. What do you attribute the good finish last year to weak start this year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think my back played a big role. I think over the last two and a half, three years when my back started playing up that it's very easy to say, okay, you know, swing the club the way you did normally. There's obviously something subconscious there that stops me from or stopped me from doing that for the last two or three years, and that's why I have not performed possibly as well as I have.

I have managed to get that back again now to swinging the club the way I used to. If you ask Seve to swing the club the way he used to or Sandy Lyle or anybody of that ilk, "Well, I can't." It's so difficult to find that particular form again and I was getting to that stage to it physically more than anything. I managed to come out of that now.

And so I think more than any equipment issue, I think it was more a physical issue than it was an equipment issue. I spent the first ten weeks of the year last year having to work out, having to rest and then come out and try and compete against people that have been doing it for ten weeks. It's very, very difficult, very difficult. I did it in '96 but I couldn't do it in 2003. You know, in hindsight, obviously, I had to do that. So I wouldn't be here now.

So all I can say is that hopefully this year, I can finish off in style, if you like, and win this again. And that's obviously the goal. I've come here confident and really look forward to tomorrow. Playing with Olazabal, I look forward to playing with him as always. It should be a good game and get me off to the first round is important and get me going.

Q. Having seen so many of these over-40 guys winning in America, has that in your mind stretched the time you have left?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not necessarily. I know that as long as I'm flexible, which I haven't been for the last three years, I am now -- as long as I'm flexible, I'll compete. I haven't been that flexible, so I've got to be.

The flexibility will stop me from playing golf. If I'm flexible, I'm fine. So I don't worry about age. Age doesn't worry me. Not at all.

Q. Should Bernhard Langer be here?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Should Bernhard Langer be here in if he's not in the Top-60, probably not.

Q. As defending champion?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Defending champion, possibly not, no. Don't get me wrong. It's nice, it's great, you see our picture is there and everything. It's super and it's nice to have an opportunity of defending. But at the same time if you don't qualify for a certain tournament, you don't qualify for it. We made a rule that we decided in the Top-60, this is a bonus, if you like. It's a big event, it's a big financial reward at the end much the year and if you're not in that Top-60 at the end of the year, you don't play. I believe he voted on that same subject himself at the Tour committee meeting, as I did. And unfortunately, he has not qualified.

Q. Do you think that somebody like Sandy Lyle should still be exempt from the Tour?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I know, he's 41 now in the career earnings and he's lost his card and he has to go back to a school or invitations or whatever the case may be.

Do I think Sandy should be exempt? How long does that go on for to keep somebody who is trying to make his way in the game out, how long, exempt for how long? It's difficult, isn't it.

You know, unfortunately, if Sandy Lyle was exempt, are you trying to say, well, shouldn't Tony Jacklin be exempt still? Unfortunately, there comes a time where I won't be exempt, either, and then you have to abide by the rulings of the game and allow the new talent to come through, as he was allowed to come through when he was young.

Q. And the rules of the game are predicated on money and I think Sandy's point is that he's won 25 tournaments, whatever it is, he's been bumped by some players who have not won. Should it be done on a points system?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I understand, should it be the Top 40 career money winners have a year's leeway, is that what I understand the rule to be in if you're in the Top 40, money winners, and you see Seve at number 20 or something and you feel he should be in the top two or three with Sandy all the time because of the number of tournaments they have won. Possibly it could go on the number of tournaments won, as opposed to money, because of course the increase in the money over the years has outweighed --

Q. Makes it meaningless.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: -- should it be on tournaments? Well, it might be discussed from now on. And then, of course, he would be able to come back in. I don't know. It's the first I've heard of this. So it's difficult for me to say on spec, you know. But yes, you know, having won 37, it's great. (Laughter.)

Q. Do you think it will be discussed at the committee level?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It could be discussed. If Sandy feels strongly about something, it might well be discussed in the December meeting that we have, yes, if he writes in and says, look, you know, what about this particular.

But, it's always somebody. There's always some thing. It's difficult, isn't it, very difficult.

Q. Would it be unsatisfactory to have joint winners again?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think last year was unique in many ways. I think to have joint winners, I think the Ryder Cup springs to mind greatly where we were partners and we never last and the fact that we had gone on a couple of holes here, it was very, very dark and impossible to play. I think that at the end of the day, I think it was the right decision to be honest, I think it really was at that stage. There was a lot of outside influences playing part. There was no rookie involved. There was no exemption status that had seen to financially. It wasn't an issue. There was a lot of outside influences, but because of the two of us happened to be there. If it was a rookie winning his first tournament, it might have been a different situation but it wasn't. It was a unique situation last year and I think it was right.

Q. The question was about this year.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Now to answer your question, I don't know. Depends. Depends. Let's hopefully, let's hope, right that we don't find ourselves in that position again and we can start possibly an hour earlier on Sunday.

GORDON SIMPSON: We have a half hour earlier finish.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Does that answer your question?

Q. It's an answer.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's an answer. Doesn't answer your question.

Q. What did you do with the trophy, the two of you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Unfortunately, the only extra finance that was had to be done was Waterford had to make another trophy. So I got one and so did he. Because your names are actually engraved on the trophy, and it's a magnificent trophy and your personal name is engraved into the glass, so we couldn't share it. So it had to be one each.

Q. Was that a full-sized trophy?


Q. Both your names on it or it has just your name on it?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, actually mine's got my name on it. (Laughter.)

Q. And his is both?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Mine's got my name on it and his has got his I think. We were winners of the tournament.

Q. How did you get your flexibility back?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: By working out, actually. By doing a sort of certain yoga techniques and certain stretching over a ten-week period over the winter, 12-week period, actually. Losing a bit of weight always helps and just working out every day.

Q. Cross-legged on the floor?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Are you trying to picture me here, are you? (Laughter.) No. No.

Q. Does that mean a six-pack is out?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's just I've got to watch, obviously because I've got a sort of fragile back and I've got to be careful. And I have to be careful or else I won't be here next year, either.

Q. Still the same caddie?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, yes, for now. Just the end of this year and I'll make a decision at that time.

Q. Did you know him before?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A little bit. I wouldn't say I knew him that well, but I knew of him, yes.

Q. Would you pick yourself for the Ryder Cup the way you played this year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You are -- (Laughter.) I can see an article coming here.

Another good question. What, sort of now, or when the Ryder Cup is played?

Q. The way you played this year, if that continues until next September.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, one, it's hypothetical. And two, it won't.

Q. Is that a reason for wanting to start earlier next year, Ryder Cup points?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not particularly. Nothing to do with Ryder Cup points. It's never really been an issue with me, Ryder Cup points. I feel if I play well, I'll get in. So, you know, I'm not -- the Ryder Cup is furthest from my mind at this stage. There's nothing, no Ryder Cup issue here at all. This is the Volvo Masters and we're here to play in here and we're all delighted to be here. But the Ryder Cup will take care of itself come next September.

GORDON SIMPSON: We'll wait and see if there's another portrait there next year.

End of FastScripts.

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