May 24, 2001
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, you've said before when you get here, you feel you are 1-up in match play or a stroke ahead on the tee. How do you feel this time around?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Similar. Similar. I like seeing my picture up there the last three events, and it's nice to drive in, and when I do park my car in front of -- at '98, '99, 2000; it does give you a little bit of a lift. I feel I'm one shot ahead of the field when I stand on the first tee here, and it does give me confidence. I think in anything, any walk of life, whether it is sport or business at doing something, you are halfway to achieving it and that's the way I am on this particular golf course.
GORDON SIMPSON: It seems things are looking a lot healthier after the week in Germany.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, 12th and 10th the last two weeks, I'm pulling myself out of some poor play, and it's nice to see that I can get in the Top-10 and we'll go on from there. Hopefully, they will be the worst tournaments for the next month and I can get that out of the system and look forward to trying to win here again.
Q. Is it good that this one has come this week after that gradual improvement?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I think so. I think the timing of this event seems to be quite good for me now. I feel confident. Had a good Pro-Am yesterday. I played particularly well yesterday, and sort of became -- became more confident. I'm not thinking about the swing or the putting as much as I did early season, and that's given me some freedom and just concentrating on trying to get around. There's plenty enough going on out there without having to think about the golf swing. I'm actually quite confident as I sit here.
Q. Have you been more ambitious about winning this for the fourth time than some of the tournaments leading up to it, even like last week's tournament?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, this is important, obviously. But having won three in a row, and finished second some -- it won't be disappointing if I don't win again -- don't get me wrong here. What has been achieved the last three years, no one else has achieved, so it must be very difficult to do. So, almost harder to win four and then, of course, five, it's like this Order of Merit thing. When I won three or four, well, it had to be five or six or seven, and if I had won it the eighth time; it would have to be nine. And there had to be a break somewhere -- is somewhere in it, and in a way I was glad that it did break then. And we'll see how this weekend goes. But, obviously starting one of the favourites, it's a big strong field with Ernie and Vijay playing; it's good to see them playing in our flagship event, and we'll see what happens.
Q. Are you surprised after all of the rain that we've had this year that it seems to be now actually running quite fast out there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I spoke to Chris Kennedy, the course superintendent here during the Pro-Am. He was on the eighth green and he said that on Wednesday night would be the first night that he would have to hand-water anything this year. He has not turned on a sprinkler at all this year on this golf course. So that's a good sign, if you like, and things have dried out and the course is playing as well as ever. I think it's running quite fast, which this course plays harder when it does that way. That's why the scores in the match play are always a lot less because of the fact that it is damp and the ball is holding. The ball is running out, especially on the green, and that will make the scoring a little bit higher than we might imagine with the good weather.
Q. Vijay said he had never seen the course playing like it is right now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it always plays a little bit harder scoring-wise in May than it does in October.
Q. So, the 270 that you and Bernhard share the record for --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, 8-under, you would take that now, yeah.
Q. Are you superstitious?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Just only white tees. I only use white tees. Red and yellow signify water hazards as Tony would let you know. I usually keep the ball within the boundary of the course. So white -- I use white tees, but that's the only superstition I have.
Q. Do you use the same locker here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. No, I don't.
Q. What about number 23?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, 23 is a certain number that I -- I don't go for it. Just because I was born the 23rd of June, my lucky number seems to be 23. But, whenever there's a 23rd thing going, it just happens to be fate takes a big -- I'm a big believer in fate. But white tees is my only superstition.
Q. With all of the new technology out, did you go back to your old driver last week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Last week I used my old driver. I've actually got a VFT, a Hawkeye, this particular week. I managed to find the only one in existence. They managed to find a driver shaft the same as my 3-wood, the gold and the silver. So, Alex will have a great difficulty finding between the two now. It's a VFT head on an old -- ten-year-old shaft.
Q. You feel more comfortable with that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wouldn't be using it if I didn't.
Q. You once said that you were a natural No. 6 cricketer and you would go for it. Now with cricket en vogue at the moment , have you ever been bribed?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Do you want to take that one?
GORDON SIMPSON: I couldn't possibly comment.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You come out with some classics, don't you? No, I haven't.
Q. Have you heard of anyone else?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No.
Q. Do you go along with the grand feeling that anything won in golf is devalued unless Tiger is in the field?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. Good question. Better than Tony's. (Laughs). In a way, I think there's something. Say you win here and you beat Ernie and Vijay and Lee Westwood and I think we have five players playing tomorrow in the Top-10 in the world, which is good, but there's always one guy that you want to beat, of course it is. And slightly, slightly that way, but I think that this tournament, if you win this tournament, as I have, hopefully, you don't see my three wins in this tournament as devalued because Tiger hasn't played in them. All you can do is beat the 155 other guys that compete. And if you did that in your business, you'd be very happy to come out on top of 155 participants in a journalistic competition. If you won that competition, you would be quite proud of yourself, as I have for the last three years.
Q. Sergio said over the weekend that he felt that Tiger wins some of his events because players backed off; that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's very difficult to say back off, when he does what he did at the weekend. Nobody backed off in that tournament. He went and won it. 15-under over the weekend is good golf around this. I know the first two days was almost a tour record but 15-under for the weekend, nobody backed off. He started holing second shots and what have you. Nobody backed off at the Masters, really. He won that as well. So had a job to do and he did it.
Q. Until you win your first major, which would you see as your bigger achievement, the three wins here or the seven order of merits?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, I always feel Order of Merit is always like the League championship, if you like, and I always put great emphasis on that. It's trying to win week-in, week-out, and I had a chance to win three in a row and this three in a row. This is my biggest to date victory, if you look in stroke-play competition, this is it, and I've always enjoyed playing here. I have a very good record here, but until a major comes along, I suppose, this would be it.
Q. Would that be bigger than three in a row here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A major? No, it would be very different, really. It would be a different feeling. I think if I ever do happen to win a major, I would feel more relief than I would excitement, if you like. It would be more relief than anything else and get on with the next tournament, really. But I wouldn't swap anything for what I've achieved so far, whether it be Order of Merits or winning three of these in a row.
Q. Have you spoken to anybody (inaudible) --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I have. And it is interesting you say that, because I do feel now that I'm coming into the last sort of six years, possibly; I don't know how long we have, you know, at that level, I suppose. And I really do feel that I have my best golf yet to play. I'm not just saying that to you here. I really do believe that. I'm as keen as ever I have been, and really looking forward to this event, and obviously U.S. Open in Tulsa, because that, to me, has always been my biggest chance, and I'm looking forward to going there. But first and foremost, trying to defend this. It's very difficult to defend anything. To do this once was good, and twice and three times was a real joy, and if it happens again, it happens again, but if it doesn't, I'll look back on everything that I've done and these three pictures will be up here next year and when I come in here I'll think, "Okay, great, it's happened."
Q. In the last 10 or 12 majors you've played, by your standards your record has not been good?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Exactly.
Q. Has there been a theme why?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know. To be honest with you, the last few years, the standard of play for me, I think that my best golf to date was played in '95, '96. And although I had a good Congressional, I really do feel that the best golf I played was that '95 through '96, the Riviera time and through that stage of my career, and I'm very keen to get back to doing that, to playing that way again. And I've got a new putting technique, if you like, and something to go back to all the time, which is great; I've never had that before. I'm looking forward to -- this is a whole new sort of challenge now and I'm looking forward it all. I don't feel I'm going out there tomorrow protecting anything. I'm going out there to try and win.
Q. Are you starting a new chapter, in a sense?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: In a way, yes. In a way.
Q. When did you start to feel like that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: January.
Q. And what is it, that you feel can take you to that level, because you say the best is yet to come?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Obviously, I have to improve, and I am working on that improvement right now, and I feel I have to improve on all aspects on the game and on fitness and on technique and on mental skills, as well. I know quite a bit already. I'm not starting from base zero here, but at the same time, there's a lot more to learn, and I'm anxious to ask questions and to learn because I want to improve.
Q. So there's more in the tank?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, there is.
Q. The physical handing over of the Vardon Trophy; you were not No. 1 and -- (inaudible) -- do you want to be No. 1 again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: In a way. I think that's been done and dusted. I think I just want to improve from now on, and an improvement to me would be a World Ranking position more than it would be a European position. I think it is more of a world game right now, anyway. And if I can improve from seventh or whatever I am in the world at the end of the year, well, that will be an improvement and that means wins and what have you have taken care of themselves. I would just like to improve; whatever that entails.
Q. How many people have you taken advice on over putting?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's a few.
Q. Nick Price gave you at some?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: David Leadbetter, Paul Marchand I've had Denis Pugh. I've had all sorts and they are all saying the same thing which is very, very good, which is quite encouraging. They are all saying the same things. Just a matter of doing it and I'm getting down to what I'm doing it and it is much improved.
Q. Your speech last night, you rather eloquently endorsed if that's the right word, the European Tour staff, why do you feel it was important to make so public a statement?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was making a speech on behalf of the guests of the Tour last night and I think it was important for the guests who have been invited to our Tour dinner, if you like, as a member of the Tour that I am, to let the guests realise that this just doesn't happen by chance alone. And I tried to get that point across, and a few people have mentioned it to me today that I got the point across quite well; that I, personally, and that's all I can say, but I personally am very happy with the Tour and the way that it is run. And I have always been that way. You've never heard me over the years say anything differently, and I have a good relationship with Ken Schofield and with George O'Grady and the back room staff, if you like, and I think they work very, very hard. As I said last night, when you think that golf club sales and dollar terms are the same in the State of Florida as they are in Europe, had the whole of Europe we do very, very well. We should be playing a 10th of the money that the states are and we play for nearly two thirds of it. I think it is a credit to him and his staff for getting that staff.
Q. Given that backdrop, what's to happen in a very short time, obviously that's relevant and significant?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so, in a way, but I don't think -- this meeting has come around -- I have proposed this meeting on committees for a while now. They have the same thing at the TPC in America where there is a mandatory meeting and we are trying to get at least one of these a year. And because of most members of the Tour playing here, if not all, that we decided to make this mandatory for the first time. And what's discussed in there, I don't think the State of the Tour will be discussed. There's any problems that want to be aired by people that are not on the committee or by the board, and I think it is quite good to have an airing of these views and to discuss them. I don't think there's a problem with the tours policy within that.
Q. What happens to players who don't attend?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know. There was going to be a fine or something, but I'm not sure. I honestly don't know the answer to that. I think it will be noted. I think there's a sort of attendance record to be taken, and those members who don't attend -- because it's their tour, as well. They tend to forget that. It's generally the guys that complain that don't attend these things and it's nice to see that it is mandatory now that everybody should and hopefully will attend.
Q. What do you expect to come out of it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: What do I expect to come out of it? Well, it's just good that every tour member is in the same room for the first time ever.
Q. What happens if you're late?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'll be there.
Q. Do you think there is any justification for those Continental players that -- coming over here -- (inaudible)?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Just happens that 30 years ago, it was set up at Wentworth here. It's very difficult to change headquarters or whatever. It's more European, obviously, than it was 30 years ago, and I'm sure if we come back in 30 years time, it will be more European then. So it has changed over the years, possibly not as quickly as people would have liked, but people don't like change of any type. And I'm sure this tour -- I mean there's a great majority of people in this room that are British.
Q. Are you going to get into politics?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. God, no. I've got more of these tournaments to win yet.
Q. The players you were asked about who won majors quite late in their career --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I played with Mark O'Meara in Sun City just before he won his two majors back in '98, so I played with him at the back end of '97. Just so happened -- I mean, he putted great there, and just a matter of if the putts go in. And they go in and he putted brilliantly in '98 and he won two majors. You can almost say, just put it down to his putting. And it was a shock, really that he had not won before that, to be honest. He's been a world player for a number of years. He just happened to win two in the one year. But nothing really, no. It just tends to be that I feel that that happening with me now, that I really feel that I'm more ready now than I ever have been.
Q. If you go into politics, where will you stand?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was asked how I would vote this election, and all I would have to say about that is I would vote with great care.
Q. That's a politician's answer.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: And that's all you're getting, I'm afraid.
GORDON SIMPSON: Colin, good luck this week.
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