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June 11, 1996
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICHIGAN
LES UNGER: I was just checking the guide we have on the Open, and of the four years we have listed here, we have a 3rd and then a 33rd, and then we have a 2nd and a 28th. It sounds to me like this is a low number year.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I just like the state of the golf course. I am very comfortable playing a course like this, and you know, I am obviously quite confident, but we will just see what happens. I am not going to spark off and say, so I am going to do well. It is just a matter of trying to start off on Thursday morning better than I have done in the past three weeks. I have had a bad start the last three tournaments I have played in and had to play catch-up as such, and it hasn't quite worked out. So let us hope I can get off to a better start without putting pressure on myself, so it is sort of a Catch-22 situation. The more I try and think about Thursday's rounds, the worse it gets, so we will see what happens.
LES UNGER: The course professional, Pat Croswell, was just in here and described the kind of shots that are needed, someone who carries the ball far, because there is not going to be a lot of wind. From my experience, that would pretty much characterize your game or am I wrong?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, my game is based around my accuracy off the tee. Obviously you have got to be accurate. This week, with the course playing so damp, there is more of chance to hit the fairways because the ball is not going to run off them. So the fairways, although they are 25 yards wide possibly, they are actually playing 30 yards wide because of the fact that it is so damp, so that takes away possibly one of my strengths. But at the same time, it is all going to be based around the greens. I was just listening to the head pro speaking about them and that is what is going to win or lose here is how many 3-putts you can keep it down to. So we will see.
LES UNGER: Questions, please.
Q. You mentioned avoiding 3-putts there. How do these greens compare with the ones that you had at Augusta?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: They are very much more sloppy than Augusta's greens. They are even -- I mean, they are the most severe greens I have ever putted on. They don't have to be quick because of the severity of the slopes. If they are laying on 10 on the stimp meter that is ample with the slopes we have got here this week, and it is a matter of positioning the ball on the green. Again, it is not just where. You know, if you hit the green, it's where it bounces. It is obviously a very demanding golf course.
Q. Colin, you have got a pretty good record in the U.S. Open. Do you feel that the U.S. Open maybe owes you one?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no tournament owes me anything. I got to go and earn it myself. There is no tournament that owes anybody anything. No, I just -- I just happen to like the way the course is set up. I would like to say that we take it for granted. We are coming to a course where you know that the course is set up with the fairways and the rough and the greens, but this, particularly here, the course is immaculate and I like to pay tribute to the greens staff here as well, because we tend to take it for granted and how these courses are set up and how magnificent they are really in the way that they are set up for us, they are produced for us. And coming over from Europe, where we have had a cold a very cold spring, the courses haven't been in very great condition. And coming over here, you expect it, but also we take it for granted how good these courses are set up.
Q. In view of what you just said, I mean, is there any possibility you may come over here to play full-time?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that is a family thing. I mean -- if I was a bachelor living on my own somewhere, well, I might have done it a few years ago, but now I am married with 2 small children. I don't think -- I mean, it is an option. I am thinking about it, but not at the moment. We will have to see.
Q. The course has been described as a monster. How much of a monster is it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is obviously playing long because as I said, you know, the ball's running into the fairway so you have got more 4-irons and 3-irons than you would normally. These would be 5 and 6-irons, now they are threes and fours, so yes, it is a long way around, but at the same time, it is a very, very fair test of golf, you know. You get rewards for good shots and that is what it is all about.
Q. Colin, among the players that you have played with and seen, what conditions favor whom you will be playing with? Who do you see as a list of players who might be favorites?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You have got to look at the -- same in any tournament, the players that are playing well are going to play well, whatever the conditions. If you look at the top 10 on the money list in the states right now, there is a good idea of who is playing well at the current time. I mean, obviously, Ernie last week, whether that is going to help him or hinder him, I am not sure, by winning by such a margin. Obviously he is playing as well as anybody and he is certainly long enough for this course, so there is one. But there is one out of 150, you know? Anybody could do well in a particular week, so it is very difficult golf. It is not like tennis or some other sports where you are almost -- you could pick the semi-finalist or the finalist. In golf, you can't, and that is why it is so interesting.
Q. I know you had two seconds in a row. You were talking about how important putting would be this week. Have you been putting as well as you would like to the last couple of weeks?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, not too bad, but it is so different over here. We have been putting on greens that at best would be 6 or 7 on a stimp meter, at best. You are coming over here, it is a different -- it is a different system altogether, where you are looking at different breaks and speeds and what have you. So that is taken away. What I have been trying to do is hit the ball in the greens in regulation, and if I can do that and 2-putt - especially on U.S. Open courses - my key is getting there in regulation.
Q. Slower greens would be to your advantage, then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not necessarily, because I think I let the statistics of Oakmont -- and they were the fastest that I have ever seen, so not necessarily. It just depends how you start out, you know, the first few holes always on a Thursday morning are crucial as to what you are going to do for the rest of the day and also the week.
Q. What do you think the winning score will be this week if the weather conditions stay the same?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I mean, that is such -- so difficult without seeing the first-round scores. I mean Oakmont, when we started off, I mean, it was 75, was going to be a great score and actually 5-under won the tournament. It is always going to be less than you might think usually. If the weather remains without wind, yeah. I mean, you have got to be -- you have got to be under par, well under par. The standard now is so good, but it is a very, very tough par 70, so we will see how it goes.
Q. The course, U.S. Open courses, suit your game personally. A lot of European players grew up playing in such different conditions. Is it a disadvantage playing in the U.S. Open for most European players?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not necessarily. It is just experience that the American player has of playing these tournaments week in, week out. I mean, Westchester last week was very similar to this, so there is no real newness to coming here. For a lot of Europeans, it is their first time and it is a bit of a shock to their system; where, if you do miss the fairway, you make bogey, you know? And it is different for them, but you know, I mean, no, it is not -- there is -- no, we know what to do. We can hit the ball as well as anybody. It is just the matter of the day.
Q. How important is a major championship victory to you personally?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is not very important at all. (LAUGHTER) Isn't it important to everybody, I think? I mean, obviously, everybody who hasn't won one, it is very important to them. If you have won one, it is very important to try and win two. So it is just -- yeah, I mean sure, it is important, but it is not a career threatening thing if it doesn't happen or it doesn't happen this week or it doesn't happen the following one. But yes, it would be the icing on the cake, I suppose, but you know, there is plenty of time. I am fit and healthy and there is a few more to go, but I am playing well enough to win. It is just a matter of giving myself the opportunity to do so.
Q. Do you have a certain order in which you rank major championships, an order of importance for you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, they are all -- no. There is no one in particular. I mean, I am not in the frame to be picky here at all. I will take whatever comes around. There is no one, two or anything. I mean, obviously, as a Brit, I suppose, our own Open, if I would be picking, well, that would be the one, if it was a perfect world, you would win that one first, but no -- I mean, there is no one in particular. They all mean as much to me.
Q. You talked a little bit at Augusta about your weight loss and it was good for your psyche and pride in yourself and so forth. Now, as a thin person you have had a little time to be in this new body. Do you find yourself --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why do women always mention weight? Crazy. (LAUGHTER) No, I mean, I wouldn't -- for one, I wouldn't say I am thin. I am more comfortable, and Oakmont two years ago, you know, I was obviously warmer than most. But in saying that, no, I am quite comfortable with losing 35 pounds and it hasn't hindered my golf - that is the main thing. And I am, in fact, playing if not better golf because of it, so I mean, it was just a self-esteem thing. It had nothing to do with golf. As long as it didn't hinder my game, so I am quite happy.
Q. Since you are a better player since two years ago, in what way are you a better player?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is just generally learning, experience. I am more experienced than I was two years ago. I have had a number of sort of second places and you always learn from these seconds; why were you second, you know. There is always one or two shots in it, and there is a reason for that, and you try and eliminate them in the early rounds so that when it does come to Sunday, you are -- you have more of an opportunity. Just experience and maturity, really. My course management is improving. Just there is a few things technically and a few things that I have done contractually with golf clubs and so forth that I feel has improved my game. Overall, that makes me a better player, I think, than I was two years ago.
Q. A lot of people think Nick Faldo is the guy to beat this week. Can you just talk about his game and what makes him so tough?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He is just one of 150 guys you've got to beat.
Q. Can you go a little bit more into it? I mean, you play an awful lot --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: What?
Q. About his game, why is he so tough?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why is he so tough?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because he is probably -- because he is like a few of us - he hates to lose, and that is why he is tough. Whether he is the guy to beat this week or not, there is a number of them that you have to beat to win. I mean, he is just one of them. Whether he is playing as well as he did going into The Masters, I am not sure, but he tends to get up for major championships and all credit to him for that. His year is based around that and all credit to him. But as I said, he is just one of a number to beat this week.
Q. You started the season with a win in Dubai and then you finished second three times. Do you draw positive things from those three? How do you view that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: When I finish second -- as I say, second beats third in my book. If I am going to finish third, well, I'd rather finish second. The three seconds I have had since the win have been good performances and I have been glad about that. As I said, I learn from them and hopefully a win is just around the corner, but you are never quite sure. I just try and do the best I can. If someone goes out and beats me, I mean, Freddie shot 64, Frank Nobilo shot 64 to win and all credit to then. If I am in contention, well, that is all I can do and then hopefully if I am in contention enough, well -- well, I will get a couple of wins in there, but as long as I am in contention, that is the main thing.
Q. How disappointed were you after Oakmont and also after Riviera, did it take a while to bounce back? I mean --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oakmont I didn't dwell on much at all. I took a very positive note of Oakmont, the whole week. That was my first time really apart from Pebble Beach where I came from the pack, but I was leading at Oakmont and I led for a great deal of the time there that -- but that was a confidence boost. The PGA Riviera, I was behind again just coming into the last few holes and did okay, but then that took longer to get over. The second time was harder than the first time because you are not quite sure whether it is going to happen again, you know? So -- but both, really, I have taken confidence from knowing that there has been two major championships over in America that I haven't lost over 72 holes, no one beat me and you have got to take encouragement from that.
Q. Longer at Riviera, weeks, days, month?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh --
Q. Just a ballpark.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Months. More than weeks, yes, it was weeks at Oakmont. It was months at Riviera.
Q. Did it affect your play, you think?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not particularly, no. I just was thinking about it more off the course than I was on it, you know?
Q. I remember you saying that the last person you would like to play going out in the last group in the U.S. Open is Nick Faldo?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah.
Q. Does that still stand?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so if I am ahead or if he is ahead or something, I mean, yeah, he is a very tough guy to beat, but there is very many people in that boat, but he is as tough as they come. Corey Pavin is another one. That when you see these guys' names on the leader boards, you know that somehow they are not going to leave it. They are going to stay there most of the week and that is the thing that you have got to sort of overcome within yourself and get on the leader board yourself and stay there with them. I am still learning. I have only been at this game eight years. This is my 8th year as a pro. I am still learning at this. I have come up fairly quick and the expectations are high, but I am still learning at it. And okay, I am learning fairly fast, but at the same time, I am still learning. This is only my fifth U.S. Open. So you know, people have expectations of growing, but at the same time, I am still learning and I have almost got there a couple of times. It is just a matter of getting into contention and seeing what happens again and that is what I am confident of doing.
Q. Your five U.S. Opens you have played in you have had a pretty remarkable record.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, well this is the one major that I do feel suits my particular game. I mean, you would say that The Masters would suit John Daly, I suppose, and I tend to feel that this is my type of course, and I am glad again that this course is looking in the condition it is and it does tend to suit me, but that is as much pressure as I want to put on myself.
Q. On this course, can you reach the par fives?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I forget where they are.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I forget that hole. Here we go. No. No. No, I can't. 2 and there is one about 12, is it? 12, I can't. 2, no. Is that all there is?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is tough. (LAUGHS).
Q. You mentioned Corey a second ago. If I may ask you a question about him. He is going to be paired the first two days with Daly and Tiger Woods who will be, I think, probably a little bit longer than him. Would you find yourself playing with guys that are longer than you -- do you think about that or just put it out of your mind? How do you feel about that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean the great thing about tournament golf nowadays is you are playing your own ball, apart from Ryder Cup, and that is what Corey does. He does his own thing and he does his own thing better than most and he won't be bothered at all about going in first to most every green and he will take that as a challenge in that he is hitting a 5-iron into a green where they are both hitting 8-irons or something and he will take that as a great opportunity to get inside them and you want to bet that he will have a lower score than the other two others at the end of the day. He will take that as a challenge. That actually might prove in his favor, the draw that has been given him because he will lap that up, you know?
Q. While talking about Pavin, you are playing with Phil Mickelson, America's No. 1. Can you talk about previous times you played with him?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, last time we played was in America, U.S. Open first two rounds with Tom Lehman last year and he was doing particularly well again. I mean, he is obviously playing very, very well. But, I mean, as a short game, and talking about the greens being so important this week, I mean, he has got to be up one of the favorites again because of his superb putting. But at the same time, if he doesn't -- if he is not hitting the fairways, he is like anyone else, he is going to struggle. First thing he must do is put the ball in the fairway. It is just a matter of -- we will just see what happens. It will be a good close tournament again, I am sure.
LES UNGER: Thanks for being with us and we look forward to having you again.
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