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July 25, 2018

Colin Montgomerie

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, United Kingdom

GORDON SIMPSON: Here we are again, back at St. Andrews and with a bit of form, having won the Dunhill links.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That was I good year, 2005 was good having a bit of success finishing second, to come back and win the Dunhill Links was great, the championship there the same year, and knowing your way around and I think it's very important that you do.

I spent at least ten years at Dunhill Cups that we used to play, of course. Used to love that tournament. And knowing my way around this place, and knowing where not to go mainly and figuring it all out. At least now I can come here with some sort of confidence and knowing where to put the golf ball, because it's all a matter of angles and where you are and missing the bunkers. You need to have a bit of knowledge around here. It took me a long time to find out where and where not to go really.

GORDON SIMPSON: Of course, you talk about the Dunhill Cup you won with Sam Torrance and Andrew Coltart. You've won in different formats here. I presume that was an enjoyable one because that was the first time you won.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That was '95, and we did well to beat Zimbabwe in the final, Nick Price's team in the final, and it was super to stand at the last with the trophy in your hand at St. Andrews is very special as a Scot.

As soon as the schedule came out for the so-called Champions Tour or the Staysure Tour came out and we realised we're coming to St. Andrews it was very special. I didn't appreciate having been a senior now five years, I didn't appreciate that we had never been here before and it was something that was missing obviously.

Everybody deserves a lot of credit to get this year. It's not easy in midseason to close this course for a week and a half or two weeks or something to have this tournament here. It's fantastic.

GORDON SIMPSON: It's enticed people like Hale Irwin to come back at the age of 73.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm speaking to people on the Champions Tour and they have said: Of course I'm coming over, it's St. Andrews. Kenny Perry doesn't travel really at all; of course I'm coming to St. Andrews.

Largest entry we've ever had at a senior event anywhere because it's St. Andrews and let's hope we can do something, a la The Open, where the Senior Open can come here once every five years or something, wouldn't that be fantastic. And give us all something to look forward to, as well, every five years, coming up, yes, we go back to St. Andrews, a la The Open Championship.

Q. Of the many victories you've had, what would it mean in terms of your career, winning a Senior Open at the Old Course?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: With all respect here to the tournament here, it's the next best thing that I've got. I might not play in an Open Championship again, without having to qualify for The Open, so this is it, isn't it. If you're not playing in The Open, well, you'd love to win the Senior Open.

It was interesting that Freddie Couples, when he won this a few years back, he said that it was his -- it was his No. 1 after the Masters. It was very much his No. 1 victory that took place here, his only R&A victory, and it means a lot, winning anything, but winning the Senior Open, and it means a little bit more because it's at St. Andrews.

Yeah, this would be it, and we might not be back here, so this is a one shot. And I'd feel the same with a number of others that they feel the same thing; to stand on 18 with the trophy would be a huge, a huge delight.

Q. The biggest? I know you were Ryder Cup Captain and all that stuff. Would it be as big as or bigger?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: At this part of my career, yes. I'll never get past the three PGAs at Wentworth. That was the best I could do.

But right now, where it sits, yes, definitely.

Q. And the second part, are you more laid back these days?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I am. I think you do mellow with age, I really do. I think you do and you -- it is more relaxed on the Champions Tour, and yet, you know, in saying that, when the gun goes, it's amazing how competitive it is and how good they are.

So being laid back and joking and what-have-you, none of that -- that doesn't get the job done at all. You've got to concentrate fully out here and there's a hell of a lot of good players playing here that have had success here at St. Andrews themselves. It's very tough, very tough.

But yes, I think it is more laid back Monday through Thursday, normally, because the start on Friday, or on this occasion, Monday through Wednesday, seeing old faces, reunions, whatever the case may be, especially here. But at the same time, it's competitive when -- you see that tomorrow morning, everybody wants to do well, yeah.

Q. The last round of The Open on Sunday, fantastic last round, I don't know whether you watched much of it, but Tiger Woods do you think is capable of winning another major, or not capable, the way he finished?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Interesting. He's been in a position many, many times recently, I think coming on half a dozen times now where he's been in position and hasn't finished it off. Bay Hill was a classic and really had to add in The Open, as well, where he got in the position where he was leading after seven, eight -- after the eighth tee, things were going well.

Suddenly, from someone who was as much in a zone as he has ever been for the first 61 holes of that championship, leading on the 8th tee, things started going wrong. He started shouting at the ball; started being more tense; started being more anxious where the ball was going. 8, he was up and down in a bunker. 10 he got unfortunate. And 11, his luck ran out, really, having missed the last few fairways.

Yeah, you feel that the tension. He's not immune to that. He's not immune to pressure and how much it meant, and it was at that stage around the turn meaning too much. It's funny, he sort of settled down after 12 where he bogeyed 12 when he was out of the lead. He sort of settled down again and got back to what he was doing and finished 1-under from there but it wasn't enough.

Can he win a major? Yes, obviously. He was leading after 64 holes for goodness sake, or damn close. Can he finish that off? Yes, I think he'll learn from that experience at St. Andrews. It was his biggest experience yet, biggest test yet since he's come back. And he'll learn from that and he'll say, okay -- he'll analyse it all and what went wrong and come back stronger, stronger the next time he's in that position, because I think he will be in that position the next time.

He's swinging the club as well as he did in 2000 here, which was best, best we've ever seen, to hold four majors in a row. He seems to be competent in all the areas. Just wish he had brought out his driver even more. The 2-iron let him down at the end, really, but at the same time, yeah, great to see him back and great to see him play.

Television ratings were the best we've heard, ever, this side and in America. I believe Jim Roberts was telling us last night that it was the first time ever that The Open has beaten the U.S. Open in ratings. That says a lot about him winning a major.

Q. Given how Scotland is in terms of facilities and courses and culture and everything else, are you disappointed only one Scot made the weekend, and also that Scotland has almost vanished at the top level of the professional game?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We are going through a bit of a dip, I think. Russell Knox is doing great, don't get me wrong, but we are going through a bit of a dip right now from the grand times of Lyle and Torrance and Brand, Jr., and I suppose adding myself to that towards the end.

Yeah, hasn't really been as good, you know. You can't put your finger on it. England ten years ago had one person in the Top-100 in the world, you know, so you go through stages. Let's hope it's just a phase, and we get out of it.

We've got 538 odd courses here in Scotland. We've got the most per capita of anywhere in the world and so there's opportunity there, and it's cheap still in Scotland. It's not expensive to play here. You know, we should be producing more than we are and I can't put my finger on it and obviously your question suggests that you can't, either.

I don't know what we can do. We probably have to wait and see. There's so many youngsters coming through that we don't know their names yet, and let's hope there are.

It's not easy. It's not easy. It's not a given. It's not a given because you're a top amateur or youth amateur or boys champion or whatever it might be in Scotland that it's automatic to go through the ranks and to make it. Very few make it, very few.

It's just a matter -- this horrible world, being patient, youngsters want it now, which is understandable. A lot of pressure on. Everybody sees the dollar signs nowadays and there's not just them doing it. There's others around the world. It's more competitive now than it's ever been. That's why people are talking about, are we going to see a dominant figure in the game like Tiger Woods? No. That was a unique time in that 15-year spell. Nobody can be dominant now, really. Everybody is that good and that competitive.

Q. Bernhard Langer is slightly disproving the theory, but they used to say if you were going to make hay in the senior game, you had to be between 50 and 55 --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thanks for that.

Q. Can you feel it getting harder or do you think --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I do, very much so. Langer is an exception to the rule. I'm not saying Langer is improving over from 55 to 60 but he hasn't let up in any way.

Every time, you know, these Order of Merits that were done, every time I felt that being No. 1 over those years, you had to improve to stay in a certain position or else you get overtaken.

It is getting tougher. You've got Steve Stricker coming through now, Davis Love, Vijay Singh. You've got Jerry Kelly coming through, youngsters, David Toms now, and it's getting tougher every year and I'm sure next year we'll have more, as well.

It's not easy. It's not easy. You just have to concentrate on your own golf, and you say, if you can put -- on the Champions Tour, if you can put three 67s together, well, you're going to be quite close and that's what you've got to concentrate on and forget about other people. Just concentrate on doing your own thing and that's what Langer does the best of anyone. He's not interested in anyone else. Probably why he takes so long (laughter).

Q. Won the Pro-Am playing together --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Was it Langer? So what did Langer win last night? Who was at the dinner last night? Langer was second?

Q. If you were Thomas Björn now, two months or so out from The Ryder Cup, how would you be feeling about your team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very confident. Very, very confident. More so now after The Open victory. Amazing what an Open victory does to a team mentality, and not just him. It was him and McIlroy and Rose came through very well, and you put all those three together with Molinari's win, Thomas is probably looking at the best team that we've had assembled for, well, almost ever.

When you add up the new boys coming through, they are not rookies anymore, the way that we were in '91, you know. It's very much world players now. Alex Noren hasn't played before, but he's a world player. Jon Rahm, world player. Molinari's played before, and Tommy Fleetwood, world player. And these are rookies. Now, we haven't had that before. Our rookies were rookies and had to be hidden and, you know, protected, fathered, really, through that.

Now it's very different. We've got a straight strength, great strength and depth, as well and it's looking extremely good for Thomas. As I said, the mentality of a European breaking an American duck as well. We've had four American winners, across TPC, it was about time Europe came in and broke that duck and we have now. That will give confidence to the rest of the lot, as well.

Q. Could you say a word about Francesco?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I mean, flawless. Flawless is the word. Not to drop a shot on that course in the last 37 holes, on that course, that's incredible golf. Not to have one that bounces right or goes into the rough and flies out or miss a 6-footer for par or something, for 37 holes, around there, that's flawless golf and probably one of the great displays, because that -- with an hour and a half to go, there was somebody finishing strong. Ten people could have won that Open.

He played Faldo-esque golf, which the highest compliment I can pay him.

GORDON SIMPSON: Has he matured dramatically since you had him on The Ryder Cup Team way back?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, at that stage, he was someone with his brother that was a rookie. You know, was a real rookie eight years ago. Now, now, all I'm hearing from McIlroy, Rose and everybody else, the stalwarts of the team is: "Can I play with Molinari? Can I play with Frankie, please, Thomas, because he's that good and doesn't miss a shot."

Fantastic performance, really super performance and really lovely fella, too, and lovely guy.

Q. Someone asked me last night, if there was a situation where The Open would never come back to the Old Course because it was just overtaken by circumstances; do you fear that, or do you think that could happen?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: When you see the length of the ball being hit, they tried hard here. They tried here, the Himalayas putting green, 13, 14 and of course 17, all the new tees, we've tried and they put it back 20, 30 yards. I know what you're saying.

But without breeze, without breeze, these courses are open to very low scoring, without a breeze. The advantage here you have is that you can hide the pins. You can put the pins a little bit nearer the corners and you can protect the scoring a wee bit more here.

There's only two courses on The Open rota that I feel don't need the breeze to protect themselves, Birkdale and Carnoustie. Everyone else I think on that Open rota needs a breeze to protect them, protect the scoring.

What they can do here that's unique is they can hide the pins more than most because of the nature of the course. The pins, I'm not saying they can put them on slopes, but they can put them nearer the slopes and a good shot is 20-foot, and then of course, you take your chance with a putt.

But generally, nowadays, yes, when the course gets as firm as Carnoustie was and hitting the ball 400 yards, some of the shots we're registering, you need the breeze to protect them. But Carnoustie, 400 yards, they are hitting the ball, minus eight winds, it was never severe. Just proves how hard the golf course is. Birkdale would be similar and that would be it.

The rest need breeze to protect them, which usually is, yes. It's a fine day today but it's still breezy. It's ten miles an hour, which makes a hell of a difference in links golf.

Q. You talked about how the course has drawn a lot of people back, does the town, as well?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A lot of the American players coming over, they have rented homes and BnBs in town, they have not rented a car. They don't like driving over here; the roads are a bit narrow. They can walk everywhere, the town.

This is a very special place. You talk about the golf course but the town itself, the university, everything St. Andrews does is first class. It really is. It's a lovely place to be and I think that's -- yeah, testament to everybody entering, as well, the town and the whole atmosphere here that resides around St. Andrews. It's a very special place.

Q. Is your earliest St. Andrews as a player or spectator?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I suppose my first memory was 1984, really, of St. Andrews. I was 21 then. I was born in '63. I had not really played the course until after that. My first Open here was '90.

But I remember '84 vividly, we all do, the dryness of it, and coming down the stretch there with Langer, playing with Seve, there was Watson. That was my first, really feeling of St. Andrews and then going -- wanting to play the course.

Being from the West Coast and moving down to Yorkshire, I never really made a trip up here for golf's sake, so I didn't really play the course until I was 22, 23 years old. So I don't have many early memories of St. Andrews, just The Open of 1984.

Q. Would you be here at 73?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Hale Irwin, great competitor, always has been. Great competitor. Tom Watson at 68, 69, feels he can not just compete, but contend, Tom Watson. Would I be there at 73? God, 18 years, no, no. Let's hope not. God willing I'll be here at 60, but that might be it.

GORDON SIMPSON: On that note, we'll wrap it up. Thank you very much, Colin.

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