March 26, 2003
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
Q. Tell us about your trip to Augusta on Monday.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It was good. The first time I played the course out of tournament conditions, it's very different seeing people on the greens and there's nothing there, but it was very interesting, very good. I enjoyed it. Lovely day, too, good weather.
Q. And the reason you went to play it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I had three friends over to England and I had my day off so I thought I'd go and join them, so it was for them really other than myself, but it was also a mini practice round.
Q. Is the fifth hole the biggest change there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The fifth hole is the biggest change but nothing dramatic really. You just always avoid the left-hand side. Still do.
Q. How is your game right now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I played over here -- my sixth week over here. I feel American. I've had four poor -- one poor week, Honda Classic I played pretty badly there, but the other three were marginal and I didn't really compete really, but last week was good for me to get going again, and I love it here. This is great. I always enjoy coming here and I look forward to playing tomorrow, whether I be first off or not.
Q. What is it about this place?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I like it. It plays into my hands. I think I drive the ball particularly straight and I have quite good control with the distance of the iron shots. It's very exacting as a golf course, and I think that that's what I tend to play so I look forward to it every year.
Q. Was it just scoring last week that was better or did something fall into place?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Hole a couple more putts possibly. It's amazing how that helps. You walk onto the next tee and instead of just two-putting or even three, you haven't putted particularly well, I'm getting used to some new equipment that I started using and I felt I could get used to it more quickly than I have. I had ten weeks off, hadn't hit a ball for ten weeks and gave everybody a ten-week start and I felt I could come out and compete and I haven't as well as I thought I would. I'm glad I started last week and went into this week, so it's been good.
Q. Last year I read you were quoted as saying if you won another big tournament you'd call it quits.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. If you won here would you call it quits?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'd like to try and defend here. That would be good.
Q. If you won at Augusta would you call it quits?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I never know what I'm going to do. Neither do I. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do. It depends what happens. It depends how I feel when and if I ever win, so we'll see.
Q. Have your goals changed in the last few years than what they were a few years ago?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not really, no. I've always wanted to try and keep in the top ten in the world. I felt that was where I wanted to be, and I finished off there last year tenth and hopefully I can play better for the rest of the year and get back into the top ten at the end of the year, and if I do do that then everything else takes care of itself. It hasn't really changed, no.
Q. Did your play in the Rider Cup affect your evaluation of your career in any way, whether you wanted to play longer?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not at all. I happened to putt quite well at the Rider Cup and that was a good experience but it didn't really change anything. Just a team experience, doesn't really change anything, no.
Q. You wouldn't want to come back and play another, of course, right?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Another Rider Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We'll see.
Q. Playing such a long stretch in America right now, do you have any small regret that you didn't do it say ten years ago?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. For you, Derek, it's a very good question. No, no, I don't. I think I'm enjoying it more over here now. I think I have more respect after the Rider Cup or perhaps the last three Rider Cups and I think I have more respect from the crowd than I had before, which has been encouraging, but I don't think that I regret -- no. You always look back and think, you know, possibly or whatever, but I don't generally regret my decision not to play over here full-time, no. I don't think it's hurt my career.
Q. How have the fans been over the last month and a half since you've been here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's what I was just saying. Did you catch that? Since -- sorry, I'm just repeating. You don't have a tape recorder? Listen to his and you'll get that one.
Q. Colin, during the six-week period it's always easier to be away from (inaudible) -- any temptation to think of going home and come back again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's a temptation to miss last week actually, Bay Hill, and cut my losses and say forget it and we'll go home and come back for these three weeks, but then I decided, okay, that's the easy way out, and I think I'll continue and play and I'm so glad I did. My family are in the air right now. I'm going down to Orlando to pick them up, and I look forward to the next three weeks with them because it's been a long time away, six weeks without seeing my children for that length of time.
Q. Tell us, everybody calls this the fifth major.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so.
Q. Could it be as big as a major championship.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It has been in our view. I don't know who designates majors, but it has in the players' view definitely felt like a major, definitely, yes. It has the same exemptions, I believe, as one, and it definitely feels that way, yeah.
Q. It just doesn't have the tradition that warrants a major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it doesn't, but we'll see in years to come, but it definitely feels -- amongst the players it feels like a major.
Q. What do you think about the start Tiger has gotten off to? Everybody said the gap was closing a little bit and then he wins three of his first four.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good for Ernie, and I finished off the year playing fantastic and then started again the same way, and Tiger has injured -- it didn't take him long, did it? No one suspected anything different. Very ominous last week, very ominous. But this course is slightly different, I believe. This course is, as I say, more exactly than some we play, and I'm interested to see how he does here. He's by far the best player that we've ever played against and by far the best player in my view that's ever played the game, so we live -- we're very fortunate, as I said before, to have the best athlete in the world to play golf right now. It's the first time it's ever happened, good for us all.
Q. Could it be bad for the game if he continues to dominate as he has?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's only good for the game, I think. Tiger Woods has been great for the game of golf.
Q. It's been said that it attracts people to the game of golf.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It just means you have run out of superlatives to write about, which is a shame. This is why I'm excited to be here.
Q. How much of a benefit do you think it could be for you having been to Augusta so early?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think there's much of a benefit really. The course will change dramatically. The greens were a lot, lot slower than they are here today, so it doesn't change. It changes an awful lot by the time you get there.
Q. Was the temptation to go home homesickness or was it that you wanted a break?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I lived over here for four years, so there was no fact that things were happening at home. You miss out on a number of things, but at the same time I had my job to think about, so having had ten weeks off, very few jobs can afford that. I did, and now I've got to get on with it.
Q. When you haven't been practicing and you haven't been playing golf?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've been looking after my back.
Q. Doing what?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Exercises. You're supposed to say I look good. Yes, I'm swimming, an awful lot of swimming and exercises and trying to just rest really, let it settle and let the inflammation come out. I haven't had any problems at all this year, so that's been the biggest plus of all.
Q. Are you a book reader?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Just your articles, John, very interesting. I've learned an awful lot.
Q. Have you been swimming laps?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Laps, yes, lengths we call it at home.
Q. Do you have a certain distance?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's the size of the pool I'm afraid, not as big as some of yours. At least I've got one, so it's quite good.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Charles Howell is very good. If I was to put -- he hits the ball very well, good head. I think he'll do very well. There's a few, you know, there's a few now. Seeing the rewards available and seeing the lifestyle available, people are practicing harder than ever before to try and attain the standard. It's good. It's good for the game.
Q. Talk about how much your game has changed from now as to when you first started.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sorry, I've been here for a while. I mean, obviously I feel that I don't hit the ball as hard on the greens as I used to. I used to bang the putts in but now I'm getting a little bit older. I'm a far better golfer than I ever was before, but the courses are getting tougher. We're all improving and yet the stroke average is staying the same, which suggests that the courses are getting a lot tougher, which they are. They're more demanding. The pins are hidden in the corners much more than they ever were before, so therefore the scoring averages really remain similar.
Q. Not just the pins more so this year --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: More so in America definitely, hidden in the corners from Thursday morning on, definitely, yes.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have, yes, very often. He's coming over to the Masters actually, so I'm looking forward to seeing him.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, we go through that and we try that, but it's difficult on the first tee when you're first off some mornings as you are on Friday morning. It still has a Ryder Cup feel when it's dark.
Q. On your equipment, has it been more an adjustment to the irons or the driver?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, you see, I have more choice now. It's quite good, so I'm choosing and I've chosen and I'm good now. I've got it all right now. I've had a couple of shaft changes. The irons I used to use were a bored-through iron and a cast iron and now I'm using a different forged iron which the shaft finishes a lot further up the shaft, so it's a different shaft I have to use performance-wise so I needed a little bit of time to get used to that. Now I have a set of clubs I enjoy using, so it's great.
Q. Putter-wise, new putter in the bag or not?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Putter-wise, similar, still touchiness I'm afraid, but that's the way of the world.
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