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March 22, 2000

Colin Montgomerie


LEE PATTERSON: We certainly do appreciate you spending some time with us this morning. We were talking the other day that we have got challenges in the game of golf - we have got challenges, and we are possibly faced with one this week with a good course and a strong field. Maybe just a couple thoughts about that.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Every time we come here we see this course improve. It's difficult to improve on their perfection, but they have again. And we are very, very fortunate to be playing this course, I believe. I think it is ranked 25th in the world. I'd like to see the other 24. Because I can't see the other 24 courses better than this one. This is a fantastic golf course. Everyone playing it this week is very fortunate. I played with Thomas and Paul Lawrie, Thomas Bjorn, and Paul Lawrie, and that is not Lowry, and I am Colin not colon, in practice rounds, and they were very impressed. Their first time they couldn't believe how good everything was and the way the players are treated from the moment you drive in. This is America's best Tour event, and rightly so.


Q. What do you like about this course so much?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think a lot of courses on the 14, par 4s and/or 5s, you either have one shot that you can just hit down there and not worry about it. But here out of that 28 shots, you have to hit on the 14 par 4s or 5s that every shot has to be executed perfectly or else you are in trouble. That is why, you know, there is no breather, no let-up in any shot, be it the drive or the second shot into the holes. And a great amount of thought required in getting around. The par 5s, three of which are reachable, but at the same time there is a great risk if you do go for these greens in two. So there is an awful lot of thought required, an awful lot of course managing, if you like. You think your way around this place. And there is a time when to hit into the middle of green and a time to go for it. And the choices are always there. It is very much a mental battle. That is why it is such a good test.

Q. Given, Colin, that thinking is your way around is one of your strong points, is your game sharp enough to cope with such a difficult challenge?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it is becoming sharper. I have in the time off over the winter, I haven't come back as sharp as I would have liked to have done and I have done in the past. And the three tournaments I have played this year before here haven't been a great success. I have been working very hard, Paul Marchand and my coach up from Houston, which is great, I was working with him 'til near dark last night and trying to get things worked out. And I feel much more confident coming in here anyway because I like the course, but because my game is a lot sharper than it was in the last month or two. So I feel very confident coming in here having performed well here a number of times before.

Q. How long did you stay last night?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was here 'til about half past 6 or something. That is very late for me. I usually leave at half past 6 in the morning, nevermind -- so.

Q. Having arrived at what time?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Having arrived here at 7 in the morning, so I had a long day yesterday and will be doing the same today.

Q. What did Paul spot?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I am not following through with my putter, that is to be, to summarize in a big hurry. I haven't been following through and stopping on the ball on the -- which through my putter, of course, the ball is not getting to the hole. Therefore, it doesn't go in very often. So in that way, if I can get the ball to the hole, well we are halfway there (laughter).

Q. All the way there?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We are going to get the direction right, but pace and direction putting, I thought, but at least we get the pace right, we are halfway there. We haven't been halfway there yet.

Q. Did you go back to the 100-putt routine?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't done that yet but I will do that possibly twice today to get some confidence. That is what I require so I can hit the first one hard enough knowing that the second one is going to go in.

Q. What is that routine for those of us who say Lowry not Lawrie?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: For -- I like to hole 100 putts from two feet most evenings. I used to do that more than I do, and I have got to get back to doing that. I have been doing that today. If I miss one, I go back to square one. I do it from two foot. I believe Tiger does it from 6 foot (laughter). So I am learning. I am getting there.

Q. Last year you worked with Dave Pelz on putting, the short game. Is that something that is finished now?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. Well, I have that method, I believe once that method is set. I still use that method of trying to line up the putts. But if you are not hitting the ball hard enough, you don't get anywhere. So it doesn't really matter. I still use his method, which I think is very, very good. It is just a matter of having some extra confidence to try and get the ball to the hole and not be tentative and timid with it.

Q. I think you said at one stage last year you were going to go away in the winter perhaps and find a stroke that you can be confident with and that you can rely on?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I said that. I didn't, did I? Well, I didn't find it. Whether I was looking or not, I am not sure. But I didn't find it.

Q. You didn't look?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I looked. I am always looking. I didn't find it. No.

Q. Is any element of regret that you didn't do a little bit more during the time off on your game?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. Not really. I have never done it before. It just so happens this year that I haven't come out and played the way I'd like to before. But it is nothing untoward. I haven't lost any confidence, which is very important. I think as long as I remain confident, as I have done for many, many years, I have never lost confidence. As long as I remain confident, I think there is an opportunity -- opportunities available. And as long as I don't lose confidence, I am fine.

Q. One of the reasons Arnold played with you last week to make sure everyone treated you (inaudible). Have you had any problems at this tournament with fans? And what is your approach when something like that -- in terms of how you want to deal with that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think they have done something that is quite good here. They have moved the crowd back from the 17th tee. There is a new hedge and a couple of plantings behind the 17th tee. If you go see there, they are about 10 yards behind the tee now and they weren't last year. That has been quite good. The 17th tee gets quite rowdy, especially Sunday, especially Sunday afternoon. And people tend to put money on people putting it in the water or not, and it gets quite loud. That was a problem that I had spoken to the tournament officials after the round last year, and so did my playing partner Nick Price. And obviously a number of other players had mentioned this fact, and it's great that you come back and within a few months it is already changed, and it is great that people listen to our needs, I suppose. But I have had no problems here in the past, no. It is just that everybody at that stage got -- it just gets loud on Sunday afternoons there. But that -- I have had no problems here.

Q. I have read somewhere where you said that you want your caddie to try and take care of these type of things. Is that the approach you try and do?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, he does. Yes, I very rarely say anything. It's the caddie's job in that situation. But I am not the only one, tend to get everybody coming through that particular stretch of holes, 16, 17, 18.

Q. There was a commentator who suggested after your success (inaudible) that here was somebody -- he didn't know you. He suggested that here was somebody totally at peace with himself, and his word, maybe that had taken away the professional edge. Would you like to answer that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think you can be at peace. I think I have become that way over the last years. I'm a lot happier and a lot more contented than I ever was before. There is still an edge, though, very much an edge. Still have a great ambition. You should see me after I putt it in the water at the 18th at Bay Hill on Sunday.

Q. I did.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, if you don't, if you wanted an edge, there you see one, right? If I was at peace, total peace with myself, I might have acted differently. So there is an awful lot of ambition there, still a lot of drive left.

Q. How important is it to win a tournament in America?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's just as important to me as it is to anybody here this week. It is not a thing that I go to bed on every evening, I must admit. Hopefully, I have proved myself to a certain extent over here, the times I have come over here. And I don't know what number of tournaments this is for me, but I am still 25 or 30 short of Watson's first win in America, and he didn't do too bad.

Q. In addition to working on the putting with Paul Marchand, are you doing any tweaks in the full swing?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I am very happy with what has gone on in the long game as you say. I hit the fairways and hit the greens. I am just not getting the ball in the hole. I am not scoring, if you like. And that is what I have got to get to. I have got to turn sort of 71s into 69s, and it doesn't take much. It is just a couple of more rolls on the putter, and it's amazing how many times over the last two months, I suppose, I have left the ball on line short and it is only a shot, is a couple a round. And it is a big, big difference what that makes.

Q. You are also about 30 short I think of Tom Kite's first win in a major. You are not worried about that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Obviously not. That is -- what is that? Seven years' worth? I mean, yeah, there is no -- I am not overly concerned about that either. The more success I have had doing other things takes away from that. And there is no real worry about that at this stage, never has been really. I'd like to win one, but at the same time, who wouldn't.

Q. Do you give any credence to the theory that because the American players are getting beaten up every week by Tiger at the moment that perhaps a European may be in a better place to challenge him this week or other weeks because they are not used to getting, as it were, dumped on by Tiger?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, I suppose -- I don't know how that figures, but the American Tour certainly is watching for one name. And as I was saying that, you know, after the first round last week when Tiger shot 69, one behind, I think the view in the locker room, without saying it outloud, was the tournament was finished. And it was who is going to finish second, really. It turned out like that. Shall be very interesting for us all to -- very interesting day tomorrow to find out what he is doing, what he is going to do. And that first day is very important, because it is not a course, I believe, where you can attack like other courses, like other TOUR courses. You attack this course, you get into some real trouble. Even he can. So it is very important, the first round. And it is an important round for everybody, obviously, but especially when everyone is watching one particular score.

Q. What do you mean by that, that the tournament was over was the view in the locker room -- was anything said, or was that the impression?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. It was everyone sort of: Oh, Tiger shot 69 on a windy day, and he is one behind. He is one behind; he is lying third, one behind. He is obviously playing well enough, and he will go forward from here. And he won.

Q. Did you think it was over?


Q. Masters is just a few weeks away. What are your thoughts heading into that, and will you be changing any part of your game this week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. I am just sort of preparing, really, as everyone is. But this tournament stands alone. This is the biggest purse of the year, and so there is no need to sort of think about other tournaments when you are coming in here. This tournament stands alone as the best field that is assembled in golf, and on, if not the best golf course we play, one of them. So this, in all intents and purposes, is a major golf tournament. And so there is no thinking about The Masters at this stage. It is a completely different event there, on a very different golf course. So I am not thinking about that. I am just trying to get the ball to the hole and the putts. And if I do that, they might go in.

Q. There has been a pattern in recent years of officials responding to low scoring by making courses penal. We saw it here last year. What do you think of that as a trend? It is a very clear trend --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Augusta's done it for years, making the greens very, very fast. And it does prevent low, low scoring. And last year, as you say, the greens got very, very firm, and it was very difficult. But at the same time, the best player in the world at the time, David Duval won this tournament. So you can't knock the way that it was set up.

Q. I am thinking also of Carnoustie in the same context. There was a feeling that the same thing was done to Carnoustie for the same reason.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think we all feel Carnoustie didn't require the setup that it was given. Carnoustie has stood on its own as possibly the toughest golf course that we have without any rough.

Q. Would you recognize a pattern there?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think last year was a very penal major series. I mean, I have never putted on greens quicker than Augusta, I have never putted off greens as quickly as Pinehurst, and I have never played in a course as tough as Carnoustie. I mean, it was unbelievable last year. I have never putted on greens as bad as Medinah, so it was a full circle last year.

Q. Just going back to last week, when you get some -- you were talking about the mood in the locker room. When you get somebody as dominant as Tiger has become, does that present a new challenge for you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we have never had someone as dominant as Tiger, not in my career anyway. Even the Palmer or Nicklaus era, I suppose they both were dominant, but not one particular person? Seve or Faldo were dominant, but not to this extent. So it is all very new to everybody, and they are all trying to get around it. So we have never had this before, you know. This is all very new, this complete dominance by one player. And we all know that we've got a battle on our hands, the way that his ambition and his will -- if that stays with him, you know, we have a battle on our hands every week.

Q. There was -- I don't know if -- you probably didn't see it, the final round?


Q. There was -- last week Davis Love birdied 10 and 11 to cut the deficit to two. Then he said he hit his career best drive down 12. Then Tiger knocked it 40 yards past him. I mean, do you think this guy is in such a position where he can just turn the screw when he wants to?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Seems to be. You get Davis Love, he's birdied two holes in row and he is quite capable of birdieing every hole on the back 9 there. I rate Davis Love very high. He is also very long. He hits a good drive down there and no one else can do that so straight as well, there is a few players out here that can hit it past Davis Love but not down the middle and that must have deflated Davis and I am sure it did and it would deflate anybody.

Q. The point I am trying to make is that Tiger when he wants to, can just step up the gear; that is the way it seems. Seems as if he --


Q. Capable of doing that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, he seems to have everything. There is no weakness and I am not telling you anything, I mean, we all know that. It is very exciting. It is. It has been -- some people say it is not good for the game. I think it is great for the game right now, great for the game. We are all benefiting from this and we will see -- it is all very interesting to see how it materializes.

Q. Should you be -- it is very generous of you to be talking like this, but may I raise a question, should you be as generous in public about a man with whom or against you are competing?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: What do you expect me to sit here and say?

Q. Well, a lot of people wouldn't. (inaudible)?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, a lot of people are kidding you on, aren't they? And they are kidding themselves. I mean, the guy is very, very, good, right. That is fine, that is all I am saying really. I never once said I wasn't.

Q. It's not the first time you have done it that this is a man that better than anybody else --


Q. When you say this is good for golf --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sorry, the end -- surely great basketball players, right, over the last ten years playing against Michael Jordan, right, what were they saying?

Q. It is not so much what they were saying, sorry, it is what they are saying. It may not be what they are thinking. You have said here and you also said in other places repeatedly he is the best; we are playing for second place?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Do other people -- no, no. No, no. No, I never said we are playing for second place. I said after the first round last week we were.

Q. I am thinking of other chats that you and I have.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If he scored 73 tomorrow we are not playing for second place.

Q. Shoot 63, you are.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Shoot 63, you might be. I never said we are playing for second place. No. No.

Q. With respect -- I think you have given us that impression on occasions in the past.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, hopefully I haven't today.

Q. You have no problem --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No problem in praising the guy. He is very, very good and he is the best in the world, right. I have no problem praising him. I never once said that I wasn't any good. I never once said that I couldn't beat him.

Q. Can you beat him?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I never said I couldn't. (laughs).

Q. Slightly different tack, when you say this is good --


Q. When you say that is good for golf, are you thinking at all about the repercussion it is going to have with parents pushing kids to think you have got to start at 3 if you are going to be a Tiger, no point leaving it 'til later, what do you think --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Let's hope not. Let us hope that it is just what it would do is encourage people to have more opportunity of playing the game of golf. Let's hope that parents are sensible enough and don't push kids, don't push kids too early and let's remember that an education is number one and let's hope that that remains. Just because there is one guy so dominant doesn't mean that their child is going to be.

Q. Just to change pace a little bit, could you just give us a rundown of how much you are going to play here in the States and any thoughts about going back to Pebble Beach this year where you almost won your first time here and a major?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I look forward to Pebble Beach. I think it is a great golf course and we all look forward to going there. It will be very sad this year without the defending champion playing and it will be a very, very peculiar feeling to play that tournament. The rest of the season in America I believe I will come over here for the World Championship events and also the majors, obviously, and I might -- I am down to playing the Houston Open as well this year for the first time. I haven't been back there for a number of years and, as I said, it would give me an opportunity of seeing Paul Marchand before I come back and play, I think, 5 in a row in Europe. So it is a good opportunity for me to do that this year.

Q. Getting back to this week, this week's tournament, do you sense or are you aware of a growing acceptance of THE PLAYERS Championship as the fifth major?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so when you talk about the best field in golf and you talk about the quality of the golf course and the demanding nature of it, there is no reason why it is not classified as such. I don't know who classifies these things or who did, I am not sure how it was all done way, way back, but certainly you win this, it is as good as winning a major if not better than some of them, yeah. Yeah.

Q. In 1997 before your round with Tiger at Augusta, you kind of gave the impression that you thought you might have the upper hand based on your experience. What changed that day and did that change your perspective to what it is now?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think 74 versus 65 changed a lot of things and the fellow that played with him the last day as well had the same feeling. But he hasn't performed really to his ability obviously the last two years there, 1998, 1999, and so it is just one of these things. Golf, as we all know, comes and goes with us and he is on very much of a hot streak right now and who knows how long that will last. But we will see at Augusta as well as here. As I say, it is very interesting to watch right now.

Q. He has never broken 70 year in three years on this course. He is still a player to beat this week even when you look that he hasn't played well on this course.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think, I mean, he hadn't done all that well at Bay Hill, they said. All the statistics that you throw at us in this country is unbelievable to try and get around them all. What was the last one? Oh, I don't know - number of times that Tiger had been -- I don't know -- it is unbelievable -- he hadn't broken 70 at Bay Hill for three years. Well, he did this year.

Q. Might be windy tomorrow. What does wind do to this particular course?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it doesn't make it any easier. It depends where the wind is coming from. Sometimes on certain holes, yes, they go downwind and they become easier, but generally clubbing distance control is more difficult and that is what this course is all about, control of distance and makes it very, very difficult, especially coming in 16, 17, 18 in any wind is very difficult and if it is breezy tomorrow you are looking at a level-par round as a good round of golf because you know where the pins are going to be. They are going to be hidden in the corners of the greens whether it is windy or not. It is going to be a great, great challenge in a wind round here. You have got to be very, very patient, knowing that you can't sort of go out and think about 64s and stuff that you can on some tournaments. So it will be quite challenging tomorrow, if, as you say it is going to be quite breezy.

Q. Players starting at such an early age Aaron Baddely I don't believe started playing golf until he was 13. I wonder if you could go back to that final round in the Aussie Open. Were you surprised at his composure and could you talk a little bit about his play and what you think is in store for him next couple years?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was very impressed. I started one behind. I birdied the first two holes and I believe I got ahead. Then he holed a huge putt on the third to tie me and then went ahead from there and I was very impressed with his control and his emotion on that particular day as an amateur winning the Australia Open, that is a big deal. I was very impressed with him and he has done okay since he has come over here as well. I think he has got a great future but it doesn't -- I mean Greg Norman didn't start the game until very late and neither did Faldo, I believe, and I was -- I personally was very late as well, really, not starting, but sort of playing competitively, I suppose. It is something for everybody to sort of get around. You don't have to start the game at three years old to be very good at it.

Q. How much fun was it to play with Mr. Palmer last week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, it was. I hadn't played with him until the first two rounds last week and it was -- it was exciting to be associated with that round, his own course, and seeing everybody that he knew and seeing everybody, his relation to the crowd and the way he approached the crowd and people around knowing everybody in the crowd almost. And as I was saying afterwards, somebody asked what did he score. Well, it doesn't really matter what he scored. He is still -- he is still the king, you sort of think, so it doesn't matter what he scores. It didn't matter at all. No one was interested really. I mean, his score went up after every hole as it does through 11 holes and it was myself and I forget who else we were playing D.A. Weibring, and our scores were -- his shouldn't really have gone up, it doesn't matter. People weren't relating to that at all.

Q. Did you think he was playing for second place?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Did he think he was playing for -- I think he was playing for third. I will give him third. (laughs).

Q. Did he hear anything you said to him?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yes. Oh, no, he is very switched on and asking some questions about things and about The Tour and about American stuff and yeah, it was very interesting for me, very interesting. I enjoyed it.

LEE PATTERSON: Thank you, we appreciate it.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay, thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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