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June 15, 1997

Colin Montgomerie


LES UNGER: Colin, thank you very much for coming down. I wonder as an opener here, have you ever been involved in a more intense competition with so many players in position to win.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. No, I haven't. No, that must have been -- that must have made good viewing for a television audience. If you weren't involved in it, it must have made very good viewing. The trouble was, I was involved in it. So, it didn't make good viewing at all. But, I like to start by congratulating Ernie Els. I feel I've said that before this tournament, I've played a lot of golf with him, and over the last four or five years since you joined the European Tour. I have only admiration for him, he's a wonderful chap, so laid back, it's frightening. And, if I was ever going to lose this tournament again, I'll lose it to him.

LES UNGER: Would you mind please taking us through just some birdies and bogeys and eliminate the others for the score card.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I feel I gave it everything today, and all four days here, actually. You might think the 76 the second day lost the tournament. I feel that 76 could easily have been 77 or 78, so I feel that 76 was actually a struggle for me. But, I feel that that kept me in the tournament. I didn't lose the tournament there. I just lost the tournament, unfortunately, on 17 there. I hit a very good -- a very good putt from about 5 foot and it was breaking into the hole and it decided to go the other way at the end, so not to worry. But, as I say, I gave everything. And you know to finish second again is obviously disappointing. But, proved once again, to me, if I needed any proof that I love this U.S. Open. All credit to the U.S. Open and the USGA for setting up this course in such a wonderful condition. I mean, for them to cut the fairways this morning before we even started at seven o'clock was incredible the way they hand mowed every one of them and all credit to them.

LES UNGER: Questions.

Q. Could you explain what the difference is and what the intensity is being that the 17th and 18th green are within 60 yards of each other and having to wait 3 or 4 minutes to make a shot or a putt?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wish it was only 3 or 4 minutes I had to wait. That would have been okay. Obviously, I think the USGA, when it next comes back to Congressional, will have a look at what hole we finish on, because these greens are simply too close nowadays for major competition. I think it's proved that today, that, you know, after I marked my ball on 17, I must have waited nearly five minutes to hit that putt. And, that's just a little bit too long, possibly.

Q. Did you at all think about hitting it sooner? What were you thinking about while you were waiting? Did you think maybe I'll just get up there and hit the putt?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I asked Michael Bonallack and the USGA official that was beside us and also Ernie and his caddie Ricky, and -- what the commotion was all about. I didn't quite understand what the reason was for the commotion on the left of 17. I didn't understand. There was nothing much happening on 18. Lehman's and Maggert's scores for 16 were already on the board, so I didn't quite understand what all the commotion was about. So, it was -- yes, in glorious hindsight, if we all had hindsight, we'd be better people for it. But, at the end of the day, I felt I had to wait to hit the putt. I wanted to -- I didn't want to rush the most important putt I've ever hit.

Q. The shot on 18, you were 1 stroke down and the birdie you played to the center of the green, was that a little bit of a push or did you intentionally play there?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You obviously haven't played golf under pressure. I think that answers your question.

Q. Colin, was that the greatest pressure you've played under up to now?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think -- yeah, I think it is because it's getting -- it's getting me down now this major business, and I think the more that I -- the more I go through every major not winning one, the next one that I'm in contention in, this sets certainly more pressure involved with it. But, the word pressure is all self-inflicted. I felt very good out there today. I didn't feel that I was playing under pressure at all. I felt comfortable with my game and I felt comfortable on the greens. I putted very well throughout the day and that's where it usually goes if it's going to go. But, the more I'm in contention in these majors, yes, the next time I'm in contention, there will be a little bit more pressure. But, if I knock on the door enough, as I seem to be doing, especially in this tournament, the door will open one day and I just have to be patient.

Q. The round seemed kind of on your plate, especially playing with Ernie who was having to go up-and-down a lot and was in trouble. Was there a match-play element to this? Were you sort of surprised to keep watching him go up-and-down?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not really. You can't match-play with a 2 behind doing so well as well. There was four of us. From the moment I birdied the first hole, it was a four-man race, really, and it was four. Match-play's between two, and there was certainly four in it the whole way.

Q. Colin, you bogeyed 17 this morning at the start of the round, you bogeyed the first two days. When you played the hole the final time, how much are you aware of it when you drove off on the 17th tee?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thanks for reminding me. Very kind. No, no, not really. I just happened to hit a poor 6-iron there. We had 202 yards to the pin, and I was aiming -- to be honest with you, I didn't think Ernie was going to hole his putt. It was a difficult left-to-right there, so I was playing for the fat part and I just over did it. But, no at that stage, you're not thinking about what you've done before. It's what you're trying to do now.

Q. Colin, you said that Ernie is frighteningly calm. Is that as much to his advantage in situations like this as anything else about his abilities as a golfer?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean, I think it's -- I mean, it's obvious you need every facet in golf terms, never mind your ability of technique, but mentally as well, to win this tougher tournament. And, I believe this is possibly the toughest one of them all to win mentally. And, he seems to have it. He's won it twice now. He's a very young man, and all credit to him. But, I think his nature does help him in these situations, I'm sure.

Q. On that note, Monty, having played with Tiger at The Masters, do you foresee a potential rivalry -- can you talk a little bit about how the two compare, contrast under that kind of major championship pressure and if you envision a rivalry of some sort?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A rivalry between -- I'm sorry, between what?

Q. Between Ernie and Tiger.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Woods and Ernie Els? You have to ask them about that, I'm sorry.

Q. Another question on the 76. You shot 67, 69 after that second round and you touched on it earlier. Did it really get you to dig down and say I want to prove something, I want to turn things around and know that I'm not going to fold up after a bad round?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, no, I think I'm a better player than that, to be honest. I'm not one for folding in after a bad score. The advantage I had was I scored 65 the first day and I was only -- what was I, three behind, four behind after scoring 76? That was my advantage and I needed that. That's what kept me going. And, also I believe Steve Jones scored 76 last year and won this tournament, and that gave me hope as well.

Q. You took a moment to compose yourself after finishing the round. I wonder if you can discuss battling as hard as you did, knowing that it was not going to happen?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean, after the round, yeah, I cried after the round, sure. I think that's just the emotion of the whole thing and having come close so close a few times now, you know, you do -- you do get quite emotional about the thing. And I'm only human in saying that.

Q. How much leaderboard watching did you do over the last 9 holes? And, could you describe what that's like mentally to play those last 9 holes with that many guys since not that many people have been in that situation?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I watched the leaderboard. Sure, I do. I want to know what I have to do and what I don't have to do. And, if I have to play safe, I'll play safe. And, if I don't, I'll have to attack. And, I'm a good watcher of leaderboards, especially when I'm on it. But, no, I, think it's important that you watch the leaderboard. I think people who don't look at the leader board can actually make mistakes because they don't quite know where they are. I do know where I am at most times and I'm always watching leader boards for that reason.

Q. The wait when you were on 17, was that bothersome?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Have you just come in? Have you?

Q. Sorry?

LES UNGER: We touched on that subject.

Q. Did you ever find out what the commotion was on 17?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I didn't, sir, no. I didn't find out what the problem was.

Q. Monty, could you talk us through the 18th hole, what you hit, how far the putt was and how close did you come to making that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think -- I forget the distance now. I don't know what the hole was playing, 190 and I hit a 7-iron. He hit a 7-iron and I'm a little bit longer with my irons than him. Unfortunately, I was aiming dead at it. Obviously, I was within. I'm not here to finish second. I've done that before. And, obviously, I took dead aim at it, but I just, unfortunately, just came off it slightly, and the putt, there was a reason, but it always going left unfortunately.

Q. How long was the putt?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: 45 feet, 40 feet.

Q. The second shot on 17, you said was a 6-iron and you just pushed it?


Q. Where were you aiming the ball?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was aiming the ball just right of the flag for obvious reasons.

Q. Colin, Ernie was uncanny during this tournament of getting it up-and-down out of the long rough right around the green. I know you only played with him one day, but were you aware of that or see any reason why he was able to master that so well?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's a word called talent, and he's got an abundance of it.

LES UNGER: Colin, thank you very much.


End of FastScripts.....

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