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August 15, 2001
JULIUS MASON: Good morning again, ladies and gentlemen. Colin Montgomerie joining us at the 83rd PGA Championship. Colin, playing in his 10th PGA Championship. Colin, welcome to the Atlanta Athletic Club.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you.
JULIUS MASON: If you would not mind giving us some of your thoughts on the course, and then we'll go to Q&A, please.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The course, I haven't played today obviously yet, but yesterday it was very, very damp and very wet and playing very long, but a good course. The back nine has got a lot more character to it than the front nine has, but at the same time, the front nine is probably the toughest nine holes. So a very tough par 70. I believe they have changed the 2nd and the 18th into par 4s, and very, very strict par of 70. Under par is a good score, I think, anyway.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you, very much. Questions, folks.
Q. Could you tell us what you were hitting in to 18 yesterday?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I hit driver, 2-iron. I had 230 to the pin and 212, I think, to the front or something. I felt I was quite long, but I played with three guys; it was a problem yesterday. I played with Garcia, Ernie Els, and Goosen. It was a real problem for me. I was always first to hit. I was last to hit off the tee because I was losing and I was first to hit; so I was always two shots in a row. That was a mistake playing with them. I thought I was reasonably long going in with the 2-iron. It makes a big, big difference. It's set up really for someone -- with the excess rain we've had, I believe, Monday, especially; that it is set up for big hitters this week. Great advantage here.
Q. Your strength is accuracy off the tee -- Is that a factor or power?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so, accuracy is, as well as power. But the rough is very, very even. We found at Southern Hills at the U.S. Open it quite patchy and you could get unlucky. Here, if you do miss the fairway, there is no doubt about it. You have a very, very difficult shot to get to the green because it is so even, which I do like. The fairways are pretty generous, but yet again, you've got to hit them. Although, I said I was going in with a 2-iron; it was from the fairway, so I made my 4 and got off. (Smiles).
Q. Colin, did your performance over the first 36 at Lytham surprise even you, and did you come away from it taking it as a positive, the fact that you played so well there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think it surprised me as such. I knew I could play. And I liked the course, actually. I think the course was set up well, and the crowd reaction was superb. And I take positives from that, from that last major; that I haven't done from many British Opens when I've left British Opens. I take a lot of positives from that and I try to look at things in that way now, as opposed to looking at the negatives. There's plenty of that to go around. Even if you shoot 75 or something, there's still something positive from the day and you've got to take that. If you think negative about things, you can get yourself down, and I think that's what I was doing earlier on in the year and now I'm positive, and that's very easy to do with the crowd support and being able to lead so long in that championship was very good for me. It's given me a lot of confidence after that. I took a week off after and I won the next week in Sweden and had a bit of a holiday and now I've come over here. I feel good about my game. It's just a matter of trying to prove it again.
Q. How did your score compare with those long hitters you were practicing with?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I lost, but at the same time, I didn't lose by a large amount, so that was okay. Goosen is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. And Garcia, Garcia is a great talent. Ernie and I were just watching, really, but at the same time, Ernie has every chance of doing very well. So I picked a wrong four-ball, really. I should have picked some of your PGA pros or something -- with all respect to the PGA pros, I can usually beat them. (Laughter.) So I picked the wrong three guys.
JULIUS MASON: Quick, question.
Q. I'll get you out of this, Colin.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm not in it, don't worry. (Laughs).
JULIUS MASON: I'm in it.
Q. You remain a terrifically accurate driver. Is Garcia as good as you are and why has he become such a good driver?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's just confidence. He's hitting the ball harder and straighter, and I think that comes with confidence. Funny, he was giving us tips yesterday. 21-year-old giving Ernie and I tips yesterday. That's how confident he was. If I was 21 was playing with guys who had been Top-10 in the world for a long, long time now and I was 21 and I ended up giving them tips, you would think, "This guy is confident," you know. I wasn't that confident. That's most of the game. He's playing very, very well right now and he does truly believe that he could -- he could finish in the top the Top 3, 2 or 1, whatever it is, to clinch his berth in the Ryder Cup team, which will give us a great boost.
Q. Can you share the tip he gave you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it was numerous tips. He was giving us tips all over the place, from the first hole on. (Laughter.) He was telling us how to play out of the rough. And Ernie and I looked at each other on the second tee and thought, "This is different." And it continued. But he's very, very good. Very talented. Great talent. He has a fantastic future ahead of him.
Q. The flail that at the top of the swing that seasoned observers raised questions about, does that interest you? Does that look like something that is less of a flail than it used to be? What's your feeling there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It doesn't worry me. It's not my back. (Laughter.) He does have a unique swing -- we all do. We all have unique swings. Not one of us swings the same way. He gets his power from a different action. We all get power from somewhere. He gets it from a different action, and it doesn't really matter how -- how it's got; he gets it. As I say, he's a great talent, to have that unique method, if you like, but at the same time, he's very, very good.
Q. There's the suggestion that his back will give him trouble because of it in due course.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm not saying it at all. He's very young. Time will tell on that one.
Q. Were they good tips? Was he telling you things --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, they were. That was the scary thing. They were actually very good. (Laughter.) Things that we didn't know. "God, this guy ..." We'll see.
Q. Did you actually think, "What a cheeky little blighter ..."?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would have done if I didn't think he was any good. But he is. So there's no problem there.
Q. On the split tee times, obviously you are not too fond of slow play, but is it a good idea and something the other majors might have to consider?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I believe this is the first time in my record -- you can inform me but I've never started at the 10th tee at a major before. Is this the first time this has happened for a while?
JULIUS MASON: Not in a PGA Championship, you have not, this is correct.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think that last year at Valhalla, there was the difficulty of the course was proving at times it was going toward the six-hour mark and to stop that, obviously the PGA of America decided that we'll get everybody on the course a little bit sooner, and fine. It doesn't really -- we are used to playing that way. Most tournaments are starting off on both 9s. And whether it will be a thing of the future, I'm not sure. We'll see all credit to them for showing initiative and for trying to resolve the slow play issue. It gets more people on the course sooner. That can only be a good thing.
Q. You've been very complimentary about Sergio and about Retief, but you've won twice recently in Europe and have been playing great golf.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. How do you rate your chances this week and what would it mean to you to win the PGA Championship?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It would mean everything, obviously, and I've come quite close in this event in '95, I believe.
JULIUS MASON: Yes.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As close as you can get, without actually winning, and coming in here playing well, you know, I've won twice in the last five weeks, and that's encouraging. So, we see, you just don't know. It's going to be very warm, obviously, and I have good draw, good tee times, I suppose, and we'll see how it goes. But I'm not coming in here, saying, "Yes, I'm going to do well." You just don't know in this game. You just have to play it by ear. I'm putting quite well. I'm playing better than I was ten weeks ago, I would say, and I'm looking much more forward to it than I would do normally. Obviously, winning the last tournament coming in here, that's a great boost for anybody.
Q. Obviously, pleased as you were, Colin, to win last time out, was there anything coming way from Sweden you still felt you had to work on or any aspect of your game you felt, "Well, I still need to improve that and move it up a level" for a major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As I said earlier, I'm trying to take positives and having won and think right now, "What's wrong." Very few of us can actually say that. So what I'm trying to do from tournaments is take away positives, and winning, you get a lot of positives there, and that's what I was trying to do. I'm not trying to think in negatives. Negatives get you down and not just on the course, but off it, as well. I'm trying to think about positives throughout, so winning a golf tournament, you can only come away positive. However I finished or whatever what it was, I won, and that was -- that was great.
Q. Phil said yesterday that given the number of times that he has won, that if he were to win a major, people would not look at him any differently than they do now.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's true.
Q. What are your thoughts? Do you think you would be perceived any differently with a major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly not. I think David has come in here with that feeling, I suppose, that he was sort of expected to some time; it just happened at Lytham. Phil would be exactly the same way; that he would have expected to win one by now, and he hasn't. So when that does happen, I'm sure that that is a when and not if -- that he will be seen as no different, and hopefully, I would be in that same position.
Q. Can you talk about the length of the course and does this seem like the first major of the year where you can really break out the driver and get some use out of it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, definitely. This is definitely a course for the driver. You just can't get around with a 3-wood or a 2-iron as you could at Lytham, or even you find people using 3-woods and 2-irons more at the Masters now than you had. This is definitely a driving -- a driver's golf course; and therefore, Duval and Woods and Garcia and these type of players will come to the fore, I'm sure, because of the ability to hit the ball long and straight. I just have it straight. I've lost the length now. I'm halfway there. (Smiles).
Q. You said you were pleased with your putting coming in here. I wanted to ask you if you were able to get a feel for the greens yesterday, or with all the rain if that was a difficult thing to do?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I was quite happy to see the greens were not as sloping as most of your American majors tend to be, especially the one in April. It's nice to see that a course can still play as tough as this, with relatively flat greens, and that says how good the course is from tee-to-green. It doesn't need greens that slope wickedly and also greens that are so fast that you'd have to beat them to make them move. So it's interesting to find greens that are relatively flat, and that would tend to suit me more than some tournaments I've played in over here do.
Q. How pivotal do you think the par 3s are going to be, specifically 15 and 17?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, the par 3s are a key here. The 4th, as well. You start putting the pin anywhere to the left side of that green and it's a very, very difficult hole. 15 is probably one of the hardest holes that we'll play as a par 3. I mean, I hit a 2-iron there yesterday and that was to the forward pin. 17 is not quite as difficult as 15 seems to be because it's -- you know, it's 20 yards shorter and plays more downhill. So it's a 5-iron to 17 where it was a 2-iron to 15. But very pivotal shot. It's obviously over water. You know, you don't want to be crazy and go too big up the banks at the back but at the same time you've got to clear the water. Very difficult shots so late on in the tournament round.
Q. Do you think that leading a major, especially the Open and not winning it, would have greatly affected you adversely for some time in years gone by than now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly would have done. I would have come away from that tournament with different feelings and I probably wouldn't have won the next time out. So, yes, to lead for two and a half days, if you like, and still have an opportunity on the last day, and didn't win it, yes it was disappointing in a way, but I'm trying to look at the positives of it. And because of that, went out to the following tournament I played in and won. So that's a change for me, I'm sure it is, yeah.
Q. Do you have any thoughts on the way the Ryder Cup selection process is now -- the next three weeks are hugely important for everybody, and in particular, Sergio. You talked a little bit about his talent and so on.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. Particularly him. I see him -- you know, he's only 200,000 Euros behind here -- what's that? Oh, sorry, Euro, excuse me. Britain, we're not part of it, but that's getting political which we don't like to get involved with. (Laughter.) What's that, fourth place, he's quite capable of doing that. And that gets him into the following week and then he can build on that and get on the team. I think Sam Torrance is at home hoping that Sergio and Jesper Parnevik can do themselves justice here and to save having to pick them, which seems the obvious choice right now. But to go back to your question about selection process, I mean, I've said this for many years, and haven't changed; that I would have a lot more selections than we have. We have a number of players playing in the States now, and it does seem that -- it does seem that 10 and 2 does not quite fit our team selection the way it does the American team, who don't play on different tours as much as we do. They have the PGA TOUR here and they tend to stick with it. We have a number of players, and more, I'm sure, in the future years coming over here, to play. Thus, we need more picks to cater for that and how many, that is a question for committees to answer. But at the same time, let's hope that we can have our strongest 12 players, because we need that, and that's quite obvious; that we do need the strongest 12 players to compete. It's working itself out quite well now with myself and Bernhard Langer to get on the team over the last month is good, and we need another one to be able to have Sam have a free choice, rather than having to make that obvious choice.
Q. Still on the Ryder Cup, apart from the generous support you received at Lytham, I think David Duval would acknowledge that he received very generous and warm support from a British gallery?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure.
Q. Do you think that bodes well for the Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so. The golfing crowd, the golfing public that do attend major golfing events like the Ryder Cup and the Open in Britain are a golfing crowd and they are members of golf clubs. They do play on the weekends and play as much golf as they can, and they are very knowledgeable about the game of golf; and thus, respect good shots and good play. For him to get ahead the way he did the last day and then control himself coming in, they do respect that and would applaud that, naturally.
Q. When did you make the change to just think positively about rounds, and was it -- what was it based on?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It was based on the poor performance I had from March through till June, really. I wasn't really performing to anything near my ability, and I was getting quite down and talking myself into bad shots and bad putts before they had actually been hit. I felt that I had to become more positive in my outlook, and have worked on that and it's working well. So, long may that continue. But it's quite difficult, as well, to come off after a 75 or a 76 and think positive about the thing. But at the same time, you've got to try and do that.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, questions twice. Thank you, very much, Colin.
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