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June 10, 1997

Colin Montgomerie


LES UNGER: Well we appreciate Colin Montgomerie joining us out of the heels of a recent victory across the ocean. Often a contender in this event, and as you guys remember, and ladies, there's been a couple players already to mention him as a contender. And, I'd like to ask the first question to you: I don't know how many rounds you've been able to play here, but how does this court suit your game.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it goes without saying that all U.S. Open courses suit me, I think the way I've been brought up and the way I've been playing golf the last 10 years, it's no secret that I tend to drive the ball pretty straight, and therefore can hit my iron shots in the fairway and have birdie putts and that's why I love -- I love this form of golf. A lot of players are sometimes critical of this form of golf. But, I must admit, if I don't even make the cut this week and go home on Friday night, I'll always be a fan of this form of golf. I love this where you have 26 to 34 yard fairways and heavy rough and what have you. And, I always like coming to U.S. Opens and I've done quite well in them in the past. And, I look forward to this one.

LES UNGER: How about Congressional?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Congressional, I played this morning and a typical U.S. Open venue with an ultrastrong finish, and I think 17, if that pin goes back left, we'll have some fun. But, I think it's a very strong golf course, and easier today because the pin is in the middle of the greens but when they start tucking the pins away in the corners, which they're bound to do, there won't be many people under par at the end of the week. And, again, I like playing a golf course where par means something. And, yeah, I mean, it's obviously a very strong golf course and long, too.

LES UNGER: Any questions?

Q. Monty, Tom Watson said the rough here is as long and as deep as he's seen any U.S. Open course in recent memory. Is that accurate and how difficult is it?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure. I think Oakmont was as tough. But, yeah, this is as near as a demanding test of golf as we'll find anywhere because of its length. Usually, we have some holes we can relax on to make par or even birdie. Even Oakmont, you know, at least the 9th hole, that type of thing, but here with the two par 5s nearly 600 yards each, there's no hole where we can relax and think, you know, we've got ten minutes of relaxation. There's nothing here. So, it's very, very tough. And, I have to agree with Tom Watson's remarks. This is as tough a golf course as we will find. And, it should be.

Q. Colin, you mentioned "Ultrastrong finish." There's been some dialogue today about the decision to finish with the traditional 18th hole rather than gerrymander the course and finish on 17th. What do you think the 18th hole as --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Great. Great. There's no controversy with me. It's a par 3. It's got to come somewhere. Why should every course finish with a strong par 4 or a par 5? Why not a par 3? You know, my home course at Troon starts with three so-called easy par 4s. I mean, if they forget to mention the next 15 -- I mean, they've got to start somewhere. They've got to come in somewhere and they just happen to be the first three holes, par 3 just happens to finish at the last. Fine, there's some great courses that finish with 3 and this is one of them.

Q. Colin, can a player find his game at the Open or do you have to be on top of your game and certainly on top of the aspect of driving the ball well when you come in here?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You know, that's one thing I do have to agree with, that there's nobody coming here not playing well won't win. You have to bring what you might call your A-Game with you, to use an American term, there's nobody going to find the game here, no, no. The people in the practice round today with coaches trying to work on swing thoughts and what have you, I don't think they'll be on the leaderboard this week. I think you have to bring your game with you, and certainly I don't think anyone's going to find it, as you say, here, no, because it's too -- it's far too demanding a test.

Q. Can I just ask a follow-up. I don't know if this was asked at the very beginning, but with the way you played last week, how much better do you feel about your chances than you did, say, two weeks ago?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Just because I've happened to have won last week, it doesn't affect my chances any more than I would have otherwise. I just feel that I was due to the last month, I won the Andersen Consulting quite well, the matchplay in Europe, then I went on to do well at the PGA Championship and then had a win, so things -- things are going well. I'm confident at what I'm doing, obviously, and I'm bringing confidence to the golf course. But, it's a whole different ball game out there. Thursday morning, things tighten up and things happen, the course changes and the pins are in different spots and it will be a different test. All I can say is I'm confident of what I'm doing and that's vital to start a U.S. Open preparation with. You have to be confident at what you're doing. If you're not confident of what you're doing, you might as well not tee it up.

Q. Colin, you sort of answered my question, but how anxious were you to get here and when did you get here after winning?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean, I won Sunday evening at Newcastle, 300 miles away from home. Then I had to drive home to London and flew out Monday evening. Just got here Monday evening and saw the golf course this morning. Obviously, because I'm confident of what I'm doing on the golf course right now, I'm anxious to get going in this tournament and see how I perform. I'm one of the number of people who are confident and are bringing, you know, some good games of golf to this tournament. I'm just one of many, so I'm looking forward to the challenge of it.

Q. Colin, a lot of players are saying they're going to hit a lot of irons off the tee, and your strength obviously is the driver.


Q. You're going to hit the driver more. There's some players saying they'll only use the driver on three or four holes.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, if I had gained a lot of length recently, I -- well, good luck to them. They're going to have some long irons into the holes if they do that. I mean, it's okay in practice when you're -- when the pin is in the middle of the greens, but if you're hitting 2-irons off the tee, you're leaving yourself a hell of a lot of work to do coming into the greens. These greens are going to firm up. They're not getting any softer. This course is playing at its easiest right now. When you start putting the pins in the corners, you're hitting 3-irons in there instead of 6-irons, there's a big difference. I think these players who hit 2-irons and stuff will be, in my opinion, hard pushed to make pars on some of these holes. You've got to be able to hit a driver and a 3-wood straight.

Q. How many holes are you going to hit the driver?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, I couldn't say how many holes I'm going to hit a driver. I use my 3-wood quite a bit. But, it happens to be a long 3-wood, so, I'm fortunate. But, it goes in between 3-wood and driver. I never hit 1-iron off any par 4 hole. They're all woods or metals, or whatever you call them, now days.

Q. The guy who said that was Tiger Woods.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, there you go. He's different, right?

Q. Tiger also said that he hits his 3-wood 260 to 280 and the 2-iron 240.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I said "He was different," right?

Q. What would your numbers be on that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I mean my 2-iron is just possibly just short of his. But, obviously, he wins on the sort of wood department. I think, you know, I mean, obviously he's going to run out of fairway on a number of holes around here. There's a few doglegs and you don't want to get too far. And, the widest part of the fairway is sometimes a little bit shorter for him. But, no, you know, it's -- I'm obviously behind him. Who isn't on length? But, I'd like to think I was as accurate, if not more so.

Q. There was a lot of talk at Augusta about Tiger's experience both before and during the event. You played with him. Do you think experience here for him is any different than it is at Augusta considering the type of course he's playing?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it was obvious to all that witnessed Augusta, that Tiger Woods was very comfortable playing that golf course. And, I think it will come to pass that we see him to be comfortable playing that golf course for the next decade or so. Here, it is different where it takes possibly his greatest asset which is length more out of the equation and gives us mere mortals more of an opportunity to compete. Put it this way: The playing field is more level here than it would be at an Augusta-type of course setup. So, we're looking forward to how he's going to perform and how we're going to perform against him. Because we didn't perform at all against him at Augusta. So, we'll see how we get on here.

Q. Are the players chatting along those lines, Colin?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, we're sort of anxious to see what's going to happen, very anxious to see what's going to happen here compared to what transpired at Augusta. As I said, I believe he's 5 to 1 to win and 5 to 1 to miss the cut. So it's a funny type of thing. I don't think anyone's been in that position before. But I'd rather have 5 to 1 on him winning than 5 to 1 on him missing the cut. So, we'll see how it goes. We're all anxious to find out how he copes with this form of golf against the Augusta form of golf. And, I think if he copes with this and wins here, then we've all got to look somewhere else because if he's winning Augusta and here, then we're all in trouble.

Q. Colin, can you elaborate on only two foreigners winning in the last 27 years?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wish I could. Hopefully it's just down to coincidence, especially on a British -- all I can mention is the British standpoint, this tournament seems to be a very difficult tournament for Europeans, all foreigners to win. I can't put my finger on why we haven't won. I wish I could. It's just hopefully coincidence that we haven't sort of won this as much as we have, say, Augusta or other tournaments around the world. Don't know. Let's hope it will change this year, but you can't say. You can't say. It's just -- it's just how it happens on the day, you know, Nick and I have come quite close obviously losing two playoffs, but who remembers who finished second? Nobody. And, you only remember who wins these things and when we haven't -- it always reminds me, Tony Jacklin won 27 years ago now. But, that was too long a time, and let's hope that won't reach 30 by the time somebody from Britain or Scotland wins this thing.

Q. Colin, how do you think Tom Lehman is going to be received this year in terms of being an American defending the title?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we're quite used to that. Americans have won our British Open more than most. I think Tom Lehman is accepted wherever he goes. He's a charming individual and a very decent guy. And, he will be accepted anywhere. And, you know, shouldn't be different than Lytham, but the same type of set up and possibly will blow a little bit more than it did at Lytham. Lytham is much more inland and Troon is right on the front. So, will be different, but to answer your question, he will be accepted wherever he goes. He's a fine ambassador for the game.

Q. You played awfully well in England last week. Relative to how you've been playing coming into U.S. Opens, how do you really feel about this one?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, as I was saying, all I can do is be confident, try and bring my best game to here, and winning obviously means that I'm confident and I'm capable of playing good golf right now. And, that's all I can do. That's all I can do is be prepared 100 percent to try and win this tournament. And, by winning last week, well, and by having a good month prior to this, it's all leading up to me having a good time here. All I can do is try to get into contention here, and hope to get fortunate down the stretch on Sunday. But, that's all I can say right now. I'm obviously confident of what I'm doing. But, at the same time, this course is such a demanding test, that it can break someone's confidence in a hurry. So, it's a very fine line.

Q. Do you regret the fact that the way the USGA's set up U.S. Open courses tends to take, at least, some of the short game out of the test of golf, it becomes much more of a lottery around the greens?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't think there's enough bunkers around here, that skill. There's still an awful amount of skill getting the ball up-and-down from a difficult lie around the greens. It's not so much of a lottery. The skill involved has actually not been in that position at all. The skill involved is hitting the fairways and then hitting the greens and then you don't have to chip at all. That's the skill to me. And then if you do happen to miss the green, well you've got to be skillful to get up-and-down. As I said earlier, if I fly home 20 over par on Friday night, I'll still be a fan of this form of golf. Always will be. This, to me, is total golf. It starts from when you tee the ball up on the tee, and the tee shot really, really does mean something here, more than anywhere else in the world. And, I'm a great fan of that.

LES UNGER: Anyone else? Best of luck.


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