March 4, 1998
LEE PATTERSON: I guess we'll start with maybe some observations about the course, and then we'll entertain questions.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I played here last year as you're probably aware with a number of other players that felt the same way. And I think the course has improved from last year. I've never seen the fairways look better nor the greens putt so well. I think they've made the course fairer. I think three places in particular where the ball used to roll down into the water, on No. 3 and No. 8 and No. 18, and they've stopped that this year. So they put a bank of rough in. So that's very good. And I think the course is playing very fair and very well.
Q. How about the bunkers, Colin, are they better?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's a lot of them, isn't there? They are better, I think there's a number of ones that have been taken away or reduced in size, at least, and I think it's now a very good tournament golf course, very good. With the breeze that tends to blow here all the time, it's always a good venue to play.
Q. You won twice in the States, Andersen and then the World Cup, individually, do you feel more comfortable in the States now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure. It's always a sort of barrier to get through, I suppose. The Andersen was a different sort of tournament, the beginning of it happened in England, so it was sort of -- it wasn't a very American tournament as such. The World Cup was a good win for me. Going back to Kiawah Island, a place I never thought I'd return to. And that was a good result for me. To win a four-round event in the States is very pleasing. My goal this year as it has been every time I've come over here is to win a PGA TOUR event. And that's obviously the goal. And I give myself a little more chance this year than I have in the past. I'm only here for four or five tournaments. It's difficult. I've come quite close in the past, playoffs and sorts, but I haven't won. That's my goal this year.
Q. What is your schedule through The Masters?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm playing these four tournaments and then taking New Orleans off and play The Masters and Heritage, and I'll come back for the one before the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open and then I'll go to the PGA and the Sprint and the World Series that I qualified for through the World Cup win. And I might add in The Memorial as well, as an option. There's a number of tournaments that I'm going to play in this year.
Q. Were you pleased last week with your comeback after being off for so long?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm never too happy when I finish 10th, but at the same time having seven weeks off, I suppose 10th wasn't too bad. My putting wasn't too good, I hit the ball well.
Q. What is the biggest adjustment you have to make between the two Tours, is there a big adjustment?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I just think that the competition is tougher here. I think I have to say that in complete fairness, that the competition is stiffer here, thus you can't afford to make any mistakes and win, if you know what I mean. In Europe sometimes I felt that I haven't played at a hundred percent and ended up winning. Here I think you have to, the competition is stronger here. And that's good, it's more of a challenge, if you like. Don't get me wrong, I'm not -- the world ranking says the strength of World Golf is in America.
Q. There was some concern last year over the condition of some of the courses in Europe. Do you see any signs that's taken to heart and they've improved?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's being addressed. We've employed a number of more agronomists on our Tour now, and that situation won't happen again. So we've got that sorted out now in Europe. It's taken a few years to do and we've got it sorted out now and it won't happen again.
Q. I sense you felt a bit overmatched with Tiger at Augusta last year, the course being so suited for him?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure.
Q. We've been asking a lot of you guys about changes to that golf course. How do you feel about them?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know what's happened. I don't know what they've done to the course. We'll find out when we get there. But I don't know whether they should -- why stop somebody, if he's that good, well, good luck to him. And if he does it again, well, good luck to him then, as well. Why prevent someone who's come to a place and torn it apart, if you like, and why come to the place next year and find it all changed? If he's that good he'll prove it again, which he might well do.
Q. Is there a way to make that course more difficult or do you think it should be made more difficult?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I mean, I think -- I don't know, how can you make it more difficult? You can't keep lengthening it and lengthening it, I suppose. The only way to protect that particular golf course is by putting the greens quick and by hiding the pins, and I think they've done that very well the last few years, as far as I'm concerned. So I don't know what you're supposed to do really, at all. It is the only venue that we go back to every year, and hasn't changed much in my seven years of playing there, I only find that they can't possibly put the pin there, and they do. So it's -- it will be interesting to see what, if anything, has been done this year, but I don't think much will be done there.
Q. How do you feel about growing rough there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it could grow rough, it's up to them. It's the only place we do play, and why should it be that there's none. There's nothing in the rules of golf that there should be rough on the golf course. They've always done things their own way, and I think they'll continue doing that.
Q. When are you going to Augusta?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'll go there later this year. I go Monday evening, I have to attend the International Dinner on Monday evening, and I'll just play Tuesday, and that will do me.
Q. What are you going to do on your week off?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I won't be playing golf. My children are coming out, I believe, so I'll go try and do the Disney scene around Orlando. I enjoy it more than they do.
Q. At the Andersen, you were commenting that you were starting to shape your shots in more of a right-to-left fashion, has that continued and if so, is that something that will body well for you in the upcoming weeks?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I'm hitting the ball a lot further off the tee now, my iron shots, I'm aiming at the pin as opposed to aiming left of the target. And I think that's been beneficial to me over the last two years. I haven't actually faded the ball the last two years like I used to. I think I'm more confident of where the ball is going, and thus hitting it harder, and thus it's actually staying straighter. That's about as technical as I get.
Q. With regards to the other Majors, you were saying that Augusta is a venue you go back to every year. When you go to a situation where the Open and the PGA are courses probably you have never seen before, do you inquire of other players, like Seve and Langer, how their experiences were or do you wait until the week you get there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I try and not ask Seve his experiences lately. It wouldn't be too confidence boosting. But, no, I don't. No, you know what to expect at the U.S. Open and U.S. PGA, you know what to expect. The course, itself, doesn't affect the situation that much. You know what to expect. It doesn't matter where you play you have to hit the ball dead straight. And it doesn't matter where you are, you know what you've got to expect and actually achieve that. So, because I haven't played Olympic or the Seattle course, it doesn't affect me in any way. I know what to expect there, and these two courses do suit me. I know they do before I get there.
Q. So you will play just the one day before Augusta, the Tuesday before Augusta?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I will.
Q. Almost like let's just --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We'll have a different view. It's never worked the way I've been doing it so far. So let's change. Let's do something different, and it might just work, you never know.
Q. How many practice rounds have you played in the past at Augusta?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I usually play three, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. By the time I get around to the Thursday, I've hit all my good shots. There's not many left. So I think this year I'm going to have to redress that situation, and only play one. So hopefully by Thursday, Friday, I'll be in my Tuesday, Wednesday mode.
Q. With your ball flight changing a little bit, will that help you at the Masters?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it will at the Masters, particularly, yeah. I can now reach 15, hopefully. So then I can go through the back of the green in 2 instead of 3 now, that will be exciting, that will save one shot. So I think it will help, yeah, I think it will help, I hit the ball further now than I ever have, so I'm more confident.
Q. It's interesting to me you're changing your ball flight. Did your experience at the 17th at Congressional last year in the last round have some effect on your thinking that way?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I think --
Q. The pin was left --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I know where the pin was.
Q. I'm just refreshing your memory?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's okay, I don't to need to be reminded where the bloody pin was. The situation there was slightly different. Ernie had hit a tremendous shot, as you're aware. And I felt he wasn't going to hole the putt.
Q. You thought he wasn't?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I thought he wasn't, because it went big and up the back slopes, it was a difficult shot. I wanted to play the right-hand side and let it come down that way. I just over did it. You put that down to nerves and not my ball flight, particularly. I think just the situation. I was trying to do the right thing. I wasn't going left. Left wasn't good. So right wasn't all that good, either, actually. But left would have been worse.
Q. But that was your thinking?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure.
Q. Has that hole stayed with you the last 6, 8 months, whatever?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I've just been reminded of it. Super. Thanks for that. No, not really, not really. After all what happened at the 17th, I had to wait until the commotion sort of quieted down. I must admit, I wouldn't have taken my putt back halfway down it's line. It was only -- three foot I was going to pick it out of the hole. It didn't take the break I thought at the end. All I could do was hit the putt as well as I could, and I did that. I putted very well all day. And it was the only 6-footer or 7-footer that I missed. And I just happened to misread it, I didn't hit the putt badly. So I wouldn't have taken anything back that I did, I don't regret anything that happened on that green.
Q. You said before that the stiffer competition is in the United States?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure.
Q. You've been a perennial dominant player in Europe, is there a part of you that feels you have to show your stuff for want of a better term, in the United States?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not particularly, no. I'm very happy and comfortable with what's been going on in Europe and what I do in Europe. But leading up to major championships, of which the TPC is one, as well. I think this is the place to play, to learn and to compete. And I'll always go back to Europe and play as much there as I do here, sort of thing, as I'm doing here. But I do enjoy coming over here. I think it's very good. People take it all for granted the way these courses are prepped and the way the players are treated and the way that everybody comports themselves around the course, from crowds to the way that the whole thing is run. I think it's all taken -- it's a fabulous, fabulous Tour you have here and hopefully people realize that and accept it for what it is, because it is -- it's a fabulous place to play golf.
Q. Do you ever see yourself playing 15 here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I do. I've never discounted that I might take my Tour card. And I might well do next year or the following year or whatever. But I've never discounted that, I've never closed the door. I think it would be crazy of me ever to do so.
Q. How close did you come last year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very, very close, just the birth of our third child in May sort of put a stop on it, having to spend that time at home, as I want to do, I would have had to come back, and it would have been all too much. So I've got certain commitments in Europe, as well, and it just wasn't going to work out. But it might well do in 1998.
Q. There was a report here your tee times might have been on the B-list, and that might have had some influence on deciding to play here, is there any truth to that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A B-list?
Q. There's certain lists of Tour winners, categories of tee times, one for winners, and then --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think playing with Jack Nicklaus tomorrow suggests I'm on the A-list now.
Q. Your new Callaway ads are really quite humorous. Is there an attempt there to maybe show that you have a personality that we really haven't seen?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I have a personality, that's for sure. I think just working with Jesper Parnevik makes things very humorous. As you're aware, his father is in the humor business, and he's certainly given that to his son. And it was quite relaxed. It was a different atmosphere to the usual Callaway ads, where you're stuck on the black and black, and everybody says cut and say something, and it doesn't happen the same way. This was a more relaxed atmosphere, the whole thing, and it worked out very well. And the ads have come out slightly better. And I'm taken in a different light, which is good for me.
Q. Why do you feel it's good for you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, because I think people, as you say, have got the wrong impression sometimes, and it's not me, and the Callaway address sort of put an unnatural atmosphere for a pro golfer to go in a Hollywood studio and try at their game, it's a comfort zone business. And I wasn't very comfortable with the last advertisements. I am now, and I'm sure Mr. Callaway feels the same way.
Q. Based on what you've seen out of Lee Westwood, prior to and especially since the Ryder Cup, would you expect to see him playing over here more, or is he a year or two away from making a decision like that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's very difficult for me to speak of other people. I haven't spoken to him this year about anything. He's obviously done very well throughout, since the Ryder Cup, and since -- through the winter, he's had a lot of good wins. And he's a young lad, he's not married, and there's no reason why he can't split his time between here and Europe or whatever he wants to do. He's free to make that choice. But I can't speak for him, I don't know what he's doing.
Q. He's planning to play 12, like you, Colin, this year.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's obviously the start to probably progressing into 15 or above.
Q. Are you still -- last year you were very much into your weight program and your lifting, has that kind of fallen off a little bit?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I have my days, and my weeks, where I go for it and then I have my days and weeks where I don't.
Q. But you don't have the full-time guy anymore?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I think when I'm at home I want to spend time with my family and stuff, and that's more important to me than working out, if you like, because I tend to want -- I've won when I've classified myself as thinner, and I've won when I'm heavier, so it doesn't really affect myself the same way.
Q. Some comments you might have made will be treated with a little bit of a wink over here if you were a football player or basketball player or baseball player.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Certainly not a basketball player.
Q. Do you think you were sometimes misunderstood or misinterpreted because it's golf and nobody has really spoken their mind about a lot of things the way you have?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have an opinion about things, and I have aired them in the past and I'll air them in the future. I think it's good that I can do that, have the freedom to do that, and I'm not trying to step on anybody's toes. I'm trying to be constructive with my opinion, and I think it's good that I have an opinion. I think you'd rather me come in here and say things to you than have a yes and no.
Q. Have you been welcomed by the American players pretty much, this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm always welcomed by the American players, I get along very well with the American players, and they respect me and I respect them, as well. We respect each other for what we do, sure.
Q. Some of your fellow pros have talked about making some changes, trying to cut back on the distance the ball is traveling or because the game might have become too easy?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm a shareholder, careful.
Q. What are your thoughts or the technology, is it starting to take control of the game?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would like to see a Tour ball, I would like to see a Tour ball introduced. I don't know what we can do about that. I think the manufacturers of clubs, I think that's a goner. In tennis you don't find when Sampras serves he has his own balls, you know. And other guys the same. But they have different rackets. And that's okay. But I think the ball, we have to do something, I think, to standardize it a little bit more. And I think the ball has to be the No. 1 thing to standardize. I think there should be a tournament golf ball we all use, whether it's made by Dunlop or Titleist or Bridgestone or whatever the case may be, but it should be a standard ball. It could be made by all three companies could make a standard ball, if they're given some guidelines, I believe, that we can't keep on extending golf courses, we're going to run out of land.
Q. Do you think it's likely people would agree on something?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think it's up to us to agree, as well, all the players. If we agree to that, I think that's a very fair thing to do. And if someone ends up hitting the ball further with the same golf ball, more credit to him.
Q. Colin, they're talking about customized golf balls for certain professionals. I've heard talk of that, the big companies making a ball which is tailor made to your game?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, they could make a ball that doesn't spin much, if you have a low flight, they could make one that spins more for you. If you hit one very high, they could make one that doesn't spin very much, so it evens itself out. The technology is there. We could do with standardizing of the ball, I think that's been said in the past, and I think that will be spoken of more. We can't keep on extending things. Technology is improving all the time.
Q. Do you think the ball is too fast, should they slow it down?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, bunkers are being carried now that weren't before. Now, whether it's the clubs or whether it's the ball, a bit of both.
Q. How about the players?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We are bigger and stronger, but at the same time I think it would be nice to bring these hazards into play, and not be driving and pitching wedges like a lot of courses have become.
Q. So you'd be for slowing the ball, then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The first thing we have to do is slow the ball down, I think, yeah.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm very tired. I came from the Middle East, and from London across yesterday. So I'm not going to practice. I'm not a great practicer, anyway. So I don't need any excuse, I'm tired right now, so I'm going to sleep. I'm off early in the morning.
Q. You were very candid last year about the Open, about how badly you wanted to win and wanting to win the whole Major deal. Do you ever worry about maybe putting too much pressure on yourself?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not really, not really, I don't. I've often said that the U.S. Open is my best opportunity of winning a Major, and that still remains. It doesn't mean I put any pressure on myself, it just makes me more focused when I get there. That's not saying I can't win the others, I just feel that's my best opportunity. But there's no pressure on it, really, no pressure on my self. I haven't lost U.S. Opens because I put too much pressure on myself, no, no.
Q. I don't know how much of a design aficionado you are, but if you could make a change to Augusta, any particular hole or design-wise, do you have any ideas as to what you would do?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We don't have the time. (Laughter.) I think, no, it's -- no, no, I don't want to say anything about Augusta and that part of it. I think that's a design that's going to remain, and I can't do anything about it. I've just got to learn to accept it and actually play it better and score on it better than I have in the past.
Q. What about that design makes it difficult for you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's just very, very difficult. We usually work in yards. There you work in feet and inches. Answer your question?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Exactly. And yes, you get it right some of the time. And other players tend to get it right more of the time.
Q. But are you saying when you don't get it right you have less chance to recover?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, you don't get it right the penalties are so severe. And I haven't been getting it right. So, yes, you've got to, as I say, it's not the yard, it's the foot. That's why Langer has won there twice. And Faldo has won three times, it's precision golf. The precision didn't really matter to Tiger, because he was going in with wedges. You've got to be more precise, get in with a 5-iron. So that was taken away last year, but the Langer-Faldo scenario is the perfect type of play and mental approach to everything that I have to learn. And hopefully I've learned now, and I'll be going in there hopefully with a different attitude this year and accepting it more, and I'm playing it better.
Q. Love says you hit the best iron shots he's ever seen. He has great admiration for your ball flight and accuracy?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He played with me and Phil Mickelson the first round in the U.S. Open last year. And that was as good as I could ever play golf. And then obviously in beating Davis at the Andersen Consulting thing, I hit a number of good iron shots at the end there. I do hit my iron shots there well. I've got to get to Augusta and do it there, in fact I have to hit them better than I ever have better.
Q. If Casey Martin would have sued the European PGA, would he have won?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, dear, I have no idea, all right? I have no idea. I haven't been involved in that discussion at all.
Q. You talked about America today, about playing here, about your image, and from just hearing you this afternoon you seem like you're quite honest, I've read about your remarks in the past. Can America accept someone who's this honest or do you have to play a certain off the course game to survive in America?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I hope not. I hope not. I don't think it's right to be false and be accepted that way. I think I am who I am, hopefully, and that's the way it is. I don't think there's any need to be false in any form of life, whether you play golf or whether it's your business or anything. I don't think that works out, no.
Q. In traveling back and forth as much as you do, with business commitments, how do you arrange all that that you can focus as much of your time on golf as you need to?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You just do. I'm 34 years old and I'm very lucky with what I do. And if I have another seven or eight years at this level I'll be very happy, and I'm willing to work very hard for that next seven or eight years, and then hopefully by that stage I can have a good look at the whole pie and have a look with what I want to do with it, but up until that stage I'm quite prepared to go anywhere and fly anywhere and play anywhere.
Q. You went to college at Houston Baptist. Did you ever think then when you were there that you might stay in the States or was being in Houston enough of a shock to send you scurrying back?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: What's wrong with Houston? I thought Cleveland was the mistake. (Laughter.) Houston is not that bad. I never spent a summer there. I used to go home. I got away from the summer heat. No, I thoroughly enjoyed myself in Houston. I had four happy years there. And I always felt I might, if I did turn professional, I might come back and play golf in the States and look forward to it. But always my home and family were in Scotland, so there was no way I would stay there permanently after college, not like Elkington or that type of deal.
Q. I think I read one time you said each close call in a major makes winning one harder the next time?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A little bit. When I'm coming down against whoever it might be the next time, if there is a next time, if I'm lucky enough there is a next time it will make it -- if you can say this -- a better win, I suppose. I'll celebrate a little bit longer, if it does happen. But it does tend to put pressure on you, because everyone's saying, look, you've been close whenever it was, and this one and that one and everything, do you feel the pressure mounting and stuff. And it all comes from you guys a lot of the time, which is natural. I've just got to get that out of my mind and beat whoever I've got to beat, I suppose. And if he beats me, I play well and he beats me, more power to him. Like Ernie Els last year, I played well and he beat me, so more credit to him.
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