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March 24, 1998

Colin Montgomerie


WES SEELEY: We are joined by Colin Montgomerie, who has been the leading money winner on the European Tour since we were all very young.


WES SEELEY: Why don't we start with the most basic, tell me the state of your game as you arrive here.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I come into this tournament, which I classify as a major golf tournament, in good form. I've been in the Top 10 the last two weeks. I feel the standard of golf in America nowadays, I think in the Top 10, that's good. Obviously something going right. I'd like to hole more putts, but who wouldn't? I feel I'm hitting the ball well through the greens, which can only stand in good stead this week. I'm looking forward to this week again, as I always do here. I think it's a wonderful facility. The whole week is a wonderful, wonderful week of golf. I feel that the course is in great condition again. Should be commended for everything around this tournament stands alone as far as I'm concerned, the best week of the year from a playing point of view.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, sure. You know, my objective is to win, you're quite correct. That doesn't change, hasn't changed. I'd love to win a PGA TOUR event. I've been very close. The more I knock on the door, the more Top 10s I have. One of these times a Top 10 will be a 1.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I mean, you know, I think it doesn't take much to look at the record books. But, you know, my worst place in the last four years is 14th. I like it here. I got very close, although the record books show that Freddie won by four. Actually, it was a lot closer than that. But, yeah, I mean, I take confidence in that, obviously coming back to a course where you've done well on in the past can only give you confidence to go out on Thursday. And I'm looking forward to it.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's a little bit like, you know, St. Andrews lengthened the holes, but didn't mean the course played any tougher. I was going to shoot something ridiculous around there at one stage. So, yeah, it doesn't actually make the course any tougher. But it has lengthened a certain number of holes, and therefore makes it a better course nowadays. With technology improving all the time, I think something has to be done. I'd like to see, as I've said many times before, we use a standard golf ball in tournament-play so that there's no advantage, a ball that would go 90 percent the distance it does now. There would be no need to spend all the money having to lengthen golf courses.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've spoken to a few people within the golf business. It tends to be a thing that we're all tending to go towards. You know, we can't lengthen these courses forever. Something has to be done. And I am of the opinion that a ball that goes 90 percent of the distance, and a ball that we all use, would be a more satisfactory answer.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, if I'm the only one (laughter). I'll use one that goes 110 percent further, not one that goes 90 if I'm on my own (laughter).

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think you need all the length you can get at this date (laughter). So I don't feel it would be actually good for yourself. But, yeah, I think in pro -- in world ranking events, yeah.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I mean, this just happens to be the biggest one on the PGA TOUR, field-wise, quality of field-wise. I would take any one. Any one would give me enormous pleasure, any one at all. I've been at the stage where I can't be choosey, you know. I have to take what's given. I really do feel that this would be a good one, as any of them are. They're all very tough to win. Doesn't matter the quality of the field. The winning scores tend to remain the same. You know you've got to play your best and then get a little bit fortunate at the same time.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think America is a continent that loves its winners very much. Having not won over here, I feel that, you know, there's always something that's just stopping me a little bit. And I think that a win would give me all the confidence that I need to continue my career, I suppose. But I come over here and enjoy myself over here thoroughly. I'm playing a little bit more over here. I'm sure I'll win one hopefully down the road. But whether it's this week or next week or whatever, as I say, I can't really be picky that way. I'll take anything.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it is, I think. Has proved that with my record here, I think. There's certain shots that have to be hit around here. There's no bailout, if you like. Certain key shots that have to be hit especially off the tee to put yourself in position. Then again, the second shot from there. I think that more plays into my hands than some of the courses that we play. But, I mean, I must admit, I played Doral, Bay Hill, Honda, I've been impressed with all three courses, the way they've all been presented to the players. The players almost sort of expect it now. They are in fabulous condition, all three of them, all four of them.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, 17 springs to mind. There's nowhere to go there. Hitting a 4-wood down the last, you've got to hit your tee shot. There is a bailout obviously right, but you're going to make bogey from there, especially where the pin will be on Sunday. You know, there's certain shots to be hit, there's certain key shots, tee shot on eight is a very key shot, especially coming down the last few holes. The second shot into 11 is a very key shot to be hitting, go for the green. The tee shot on 14, I mean, I can go on and on around this course really. There's a lot of key shots to be hit throughout the week.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I personally feel I can't speak for him. I personally feel that this is a major golf tournament. It might not be classified as such, whoever classifies them I'm not sure. But this is as major a golf tournament as it gets. This is as strong a field as any major can be. It's on a major golf course. You know, I don't know who classifies these things, but if there was five, this would be the fifth, I'm sure.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I mean, you need all the shots on any course to win, whether it be an Augusta or here or anywhere. I think this does spring to mind more because of the finish, you know. I mean, I'm sure that the 17th hole is a tougher shot -- the tee shot on 17 is a tougher shot than you'll find at most 17th holes when you're, say, leading or one ahead, whatever the case may be. It's not a pleasant shot.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah. I'm getting more, like American players have the advantage of playing on such consistent putting surfaces through the year. Their strokes, I've found, benefit from the fact that they are consistent surfaces, they are putting on. It tends to reflect that. We tend to go from a different grass to a different grass, different continent, another country, different weather situations. The grasses are very different at home. Here, it's more consistent. And I feel that they do benefit from that. And I'm hopefully benefitting from being here a little bit longer.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's very difficult to come over here the first week and perform straightaway. But the more, you know, you practice and get into the way of things, I'm sure that the talent will come through from the European Tour. We're very strong in Europe right now. I don't have to mention that to the American public. You all know that, that we are very strong. Our top Europeans can compete now with the top Americans, and that's been proven. You know, we hope that we can come over here and show that.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah. It's difficult when you go to a new venue, I suppose. You're playing it for the first time. But I have no excuse now personally. I've played here, this is my seventh probably TPC. So there's no excuse now. I'm right in the middle of the pack here. No excuse. I can't use that excuse. I'll probably use it at Denver during the spring, because that's my first one. I can't use that as an excuse, I'm afraid. I'm looking for others.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I mean, I think we've got somebody there that is only 24, I believe, and I think he's got a very bright future, obviously. I don't have to speak about that. You speak to Nick Faldo and he'll tell you the way he performed with him. I think he'll do very well. I mean, his first tournament coming over here, 24, to be in the last group at Bay Hill, first time he'd seen the course, was a very fine effort. I'm sure he'll be up in most tournaments the way he hits the ball and his composure and his attitude especially on the course is fabulous. That's probably his best asset, his mental ability to put things behind him and get on with it. He's very, very good.

Q. What are some of the measuring sticks you use, as you classify this as a major? What's in your mind? What's?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's thought of as one, from the playing point of view. You just have to look at the names that are playing here. I think you've got -- apart from Elkington who is unfortunately not well, you've got everybody in the Top 50, I believe, 46 out of the Top 50. Well, that says it all. You've got that performing. You know, that says it all on what I would call a major -- a major course, a strong golf course. In good conditions, what else do you need?

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