June 16, 1998
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
LES UNGER: Colin, there have been a number of players who indicated that a player with a fade might have an advantage on some of these fairways. I am wondering what your take on that is.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I wish I still faded the ball. It would be good, wouldn't it? Over the last three years I have actually hit the ball fairly straight, so the fade is gone, but it doesn't really matter. A straight shot around any course will suffice especially around here. But it is a different course than I first thought. My first time here I hadn't played until yesterday. There was a lot of irons off the tees, more irons off the tees than I thought I was going to be. I thought I could use my 3-wood like I did last year, but last year at Congressional, it was more length and accuracy. Here, it is just accuracy. And, a little bit of my strength has been left to, if you like, because I hit my 3-wood a long way and straight, so that was advantage at Congressional. Here, 3-iron, 2-iron, it is just positioning it. Okay. You still got to position it but it is slightly easier to do that with an iron than it is with a wooden club or a metal-headed club. But, it is a great golf course. Obviously, I look forward it to. It is a tournament every year that I look forward to, whether I do well in it or not. I always look forward to the U.S. Open. So, I am looking forward to this week.
LES UNGER: We will entertain questions.
Q. Colin, is there a basic difference between the British and the European player and the American player and, if so, what is it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We have different accents. No, there is no real difference. We -- golf is golf whereever you play it. There is no real difference. I think everybody is in the same boat this week. If we do miss a fairway or miss the green, we are all in the same boat. We all don't know what is going to happen to it when it comes to that evil rough. But, there is no real difference, no.
Q. You don't play more of a run-up game --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no, I mean courses -- there is a lot of American designed courses in Europe now. I am thinking of Loch Lomond for instance that Tom Weiskopf designed. A lot of tournaments that we play that were designed by Americans and designers and the run-up game is going - no - no, you can't run it up playing here, no, that is for sure.
Q. You sound a little disappointed in your assessment of the course.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Don't get me wrong, I think it is a marvelous golf course. I just have an advantage when I need -- more of advantage, when I need length and accuracy. Here, as I said earlier, I just need accuracy more than length. I think it is one of the shorter courses that we must play on Tour, and last year and Oakmont must have been one of the longest. So, no, there is no disappointment. I feel very confident coming here and still do.
Q. I hesitate to call your performances in the U.S. Open failures. We will call them near-misses because you have played so well.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you because I will have to second that. Carry on. Yeah.
Q. What have you learned from the near-misses and I'd like you to, maybe, take us through the psychological component of the game of golf from that standpoint?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Have you got an hour? I don't think you learn unless you are in that position again, and hopefully I will get in that position again, and probably do something differently at the time. But it is only experience gained from a US Open near-miss or a European Tour near-miss or whatever. I am gaining experience every round and every tournament I play. And hopefully one day, I might just win one of these major tournaments. But if not and somebody does well, well, all credit to them. But all I can do is do the best that I can do. All I can do is control what I do personally, and it is usually quite good at U.S. Open, what I tend to control. My course management is -- I feel one of my strengths and these courses demand a very strong course management skill. And, that is how I tend to get around U.S. Open courses. We are all going to drop shots. That is standard issue. We are all going to drop shots. But, I tend to only drop one as opposed to two and then get on the next tee and do exactly the same thing. There is a right way of playing the hole whether you have to birdie it or par it. There is a right way of doing things and I tend to have that worked out in practice round before I go.
Q. American galleries, as you found, can be just short of hostile, they can get loud and boisterous. If you get in a position where you are contending and it happens to be against an American player, maybe a similar situation you faced last year at Congressional, would you do anything differently this time around?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I mean, I have found that there is a very different set of spectators in the states. I think you have a louder group on the east coast than you do here on the west. And I found that at Riviera when I played, and I think we will find that here as well, that just won't be a problem.
Q. Last year after the U.S. Open you talked -- right after you talked about how this major thing was getting to you. Obviously, that was in the heat of the moment. Do you still feel that way or -- how long did it take for you to get over that disappointment last year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't -- whether I had to get over it within hours or days or months or whatever, I will always take good memories from coming close to winning major championships, I think. And, I am very proud of what I have achieved not only in major championships, but other tournaments as well. This major bug that people talk about-and thank you for bringing it up again-is a problem that I -- I am coping with better than I did before. The more success I have around the world, limits the lack of a major success. If I never make a cut again or never hit a golf ball again, I will always have had a successful career. That is what I am looking back at now, instead of worrying about not having won a major. That doesn't bother me the same as it used to. For that reason, I think I am going to be here this week in a more relaxed frame of mind. And, thus, if I am relaxed on a golf course, I usually play better.
Q. Did you put pressure on yourself in the past with the Majors?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so. Yeah. A little bit too much, that this has to go in or this must go in or whatever the case maybe. Now, I am a much more relaxed golfer than I was a few years back.
Q. How are you playing now? Putting seemed to be a problem earlier in the year. Is that better and the overall state of your game--
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't hole enough putts as much as anyone else holes enough putts. No one ever does. I am just hitting the ball quite well right now tee-to-green, and I am giving myself more opportunity to miss, and I am taking it. Simple as that. So, there is no problem. I think the greens in Europe have been closer, and I tend to putt better on quicker greens and these are certainly quick enough. And, I like the challenge of this tournament and I like the challenge of the greens here, so I am looking forward to it-sure am.
Q. I had the feeling that you had, to the contrary, have done very well in the Majors here. Have I not got it right, weren't you close at Pebble Beach at the Open?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah.
Q. At the PGA at Riviera?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yeah.
Q. And at Washington?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Quite close there. Sorry, what are you trying --
Q. Why have you done so well in those Majors?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I am quite good.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That is why I am here, you know. I don't know why I have done so well. I am obviously quite talented and quite good at my job, you know.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Straight?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that is an asset. I have lot of assets, I hope. But one of them is straight, yeah, sure.
Q. I am glad you are straight. Could I just ask --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you.
Q. Couple of hours earlier, Tom Watson said you are the favorite to win here. Does that put pressure on you a little bit?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not really. Not really. It is just nice to hear that players of that stature think that I am one of the favorites to win, and I suppose being in the Top 5 in the world, I suppose I must be one of the favorites to win a tournament, especially one that I feel that I have the best chance at. But, no, I mean, there is no extra pressure. I am quite relaxed about the thing, and I am going to, tomorrow morning, have a relaxed practice round, and I am just looking forward to it. I really am. As I said, win, lose, or draw here, I always look forward to the U.S. Open and always will.
Q. I know you had talked about playing on the PGA TOUR this year, and then you changed your mind. Could you review that process, and would there be a situation where you might do that in the future?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yeah, I think it is crazy to shut the door on anything in life. And, you know, things change. But right now, I am very happy with the situation I find myself in. My family is settled and that was the main reason that I didn't take up my PGA TOUR card for 1998 -- was the fact that my wife was expecting in May, and that was the main reason I didn't take my card in 1998. That is not saying I won't take it in 1999 or 2000, but I am very happy with the situation I have right now. That I can play fourteen or fifteen events in Europe and around nine or ten here, and I feel that is the best of both worlds right now, and I feel very happy with that.
Q. Can you talk little bit about your Ryder Cup teammate Lee Westwood and what impresses you about his game?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean, he is a very classic statement, an-old-head-on-young-shoulders, and I think that he certainly has that, and, backed up by a lot of talent, obviously, very talented, confident right now, and has been for the last year. And, obviously, has a good chance of major success. But, along with a number of other talented, good, young players that we have right now. And, I think it will be a good tournament, because I think a number of top players are playing right now. And I think it should be another close, close and an interesting tournament that way. I am playing with one -- two guys on Thursday, Jim Furyk is coming awfully close, and the door is going to open up for him one day. I am positive for that. Also David Duval came awfully close at The Masters, and I have been relatively close in things, so, I wouldn't put it past one of those three could win the thing.
Q. Could you elaborate a little bit more on David, what you have been able to see of his game the last six, eight months, and what you feel his strengths are?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He is a similar sort of type to Lee Westwood. He is playing on confidence right now, and you notice with the likes of Lee Westwood and also David Duval and Jim Furyk they are hitting it quite firm. They are positive and confident. What is going on? You only achieve success, I think, if you are positive and confident of what you are doing. Those three guys there, they are very confident. Obviously, David has a great chance of success here and in every other tournament he plays in.
Q. Would you comment on the shoes that you are wearing? Is that a golf shoe? Are you wearing that on the course?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why do women always talk about fashion for God's sake? No, they are not. No. They are my off-course street shoe made by Lacoste. So they are French.
Q. Given your respect for the U.S. Open, how do you feel about a man using a golf cart in it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sorry, what is --
Q. How do you feel about the use of a golf cart in a US Open?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I mean, obviously Casey Martin's situation, I think it is great that, one, to qualify the way he did. I didn't see. I just read about it. I mean, the way he qualified, I think doubled the last and then won in a playoff which was tremendous for him and good luck to him playing here. It will be very difficult for him with the amount of attention, the amount of people that are going to watch and participate within his group and I wish him all the success because none of us would like to be in a position that he is in.
Q. But on the fine point of the use of a golf cart in a major championship, how do you feel?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That is not for me to discuss. That is the USGA and the R&A to discuss. That is not for me to comment on. I just wish him every success.
Q. What are some of the things that you enjoy doing when you are here in the United States and how much do you enjoy playing golf in this country?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have always enjoyed coming over here and playing. I think you have got great assets here within a golf situation - the competition is the strongest. I think your courses are set up in an immaculate manner as this is again. You have the weather that tends to be -- I know last week wasn't at the Westchester. But certainly beats us, we didn't get a result. You did. These three things combined set up for great tournaments. I always enjoy coming over here and playing.
Q. Do you think at some stage golf technology has to be reined in?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why?
Q. Because it is a question that is being addressed at the moment by both the manufacturers and the USGA?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You know, I have said this long before I joined the forefront of technology company in Calloway. I have always said that the perfect round of golf has never been played. With the technology available today, and through the year 2010 even, it never never even will be played. So where is your problem? And, I read a statistic the other night that said that Byron Nelson's stroke average has lasted now for nearly 50 years. So, where is the problem?
Q. So is your opinion that golf technology should not be addressed at this moment?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I am sure that you and a number of players here are enjoying golf more because of the fact that you are hitting more fairways and hitting better shots. My dad is hitting better shots than he ever did before with the technology available today. More people nowadays have a lot more leisure time than they have ever had before to play other sports; not just golf. And, why should that leisure time be destroyed by limiting the use of equipment? You know, the score this week, I reckon, will be between level and 5-under. With the amount of technology available today, the USGA is thinking about having discussions about stopping it or whatever the case maybe. There is nothing wrong with that and that scoring has been the same for a number of years even before this technology came to. So, I don't seem to find there is a problem within this. As I said, the perfect round of golf has never been played and it never will be played. And, until it is, we don't have a problem.
Q. Are there any holes that provide the secret to success to win this championship?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, the one that goes right through to 18, right -- there is potential disaster on every hole. And, I tend to work out my U.S. Open theory on the lack of mistakes that one makes, not through the birdies. And, there is a potential disaster around every corner, around this course - around any U.S. Open course and I really -- they set it up fantastic and very, very tough which I think major championships should be. And I really do feel that you can make double or triple in any hole any time. And, it is not any less important on the first round than it is on the last because it all adds up to a total and that is what we are after. Under par or over par, doesn't matter. It's the total number of shots scored over four days.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There are some birdie holes. Obviously, the first hole is a potential birdie hole and that might well be it. There is a couple shorter par 3s that obviously you get a good lie off the tee shot so you have to hit the fairway and got 8-iron to the green guaranteed. But, as I say, you make a mental error in judgment or anything like that, and you can be in trouble. So the first hole might be a birdie chance but it also might well be a double opportunity as well so you have got to be careful.
Q. Tom Watson in here earlier said that he thought score over par might win. Do you have a score in mind or opinion on that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I don't have a score in mind as long as it is lower than everyone else's. I will be very proud if I shoot 10-over and win, just means I have beaten everybody else. I think you will find that the scoring will get higher through the week as the course dries out. I believe the weather forecast is quite good and the court will dry to and firm up and the greens being so small, therefore, will be bouncing through them into the long grass and I think that the scoring will increase through the week. So, I reckon, as I said before, level to 5-under, I will take anything within that.
Q. You talked about length and accuracy versus accuracy and you said primarily here it is accuracy. Does that bring in a certain group of players here into contention who might not have had the length at, say, Congressional last year which was much longer?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly. Possibly. I don't know who that is because they tend to be the same sort of people in contention in this type of tournament. But, yes, I think it is good that these changes happen that you shouldn't all have to play courses of 7,000 yards long. There is a hole there, I believe, No. 7 which is a 2-iron, sand wedge, and a most difficult hole - you wouldn't wish a hole to play. They could put the pin anywhere, and really, really difficult hole. There will be a lot of 5s and 6s on that hole and it is a 2-iron sand wedge so it proves that the holes don't have to be 450 yards long to be good. And, if I was designing golf courses I would put in a couple of these holes on every course. I think they are great holes.
LES UNGER: We thank you very much and wish you good luck this week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you.
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