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April 4, 2006

Colin Montgomerie


CRAIG HEATLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, Colin won the 2005 dunhill links Championship on The European Tour in November, and he won the Order of Merit for the eighth time, finished second in the British Open at St. Andrews. He's got over 30 victories on the European Tour. He's won the Golfer of the Year title four times, a member of seven Ryder Cup teams with a 19 8 5 record in that event. This is his 14th Masters appearance, his best finish was in 1998 when he finished tied for eighth.

Ladies and gentlemen, questions, please.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's it, really, that's all the interview. I want to hang that above my door, it's quite good.

Q. Have you fixed what was wrong?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I have. Technically it wasn't great. Denis Pugh has come over from Wesley this week and we're working on a few things early. I played here Sunday as well, and I'm looking forward now to this week and starting to get back into contention again. So no problem.

Q. Can you tell us what it was?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'll flatter you with science in a minute so I won't bother. It was a rhythm thing, really, I suppose. I was out of sync with backswing starting on the downswing. It's fine now and I look forward to challenging here.

Q. Do these changes make you like this course any more or any less?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think for me personally, a little bit more. There's a couple of bunkers that are now, I would say, I was a medium length hitter possibly and there's a couple of bunkers now that aren't in range, the first being the main one there that I can't reach really unless it's downwind. So that's made that fairway much wider.

The one big change is 11, that's the big change that I find. That's become a very, very difficult hole. If it was hard before, now it's become very difficult. But the rest of the course, I agree with the changes. I think we have to keep going, provided that if we never change the golf ball, we have to keep changing the course and if we change the golf ball, we'll have to change courses. Wish we had done this 15 years ago in 1990 that you found a ball that was good but you can't go backward in this world, you have go forward. If the golf ball doesn't change, the courses have to.

Q. Specifically, what's the difficulty on 11 for you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Generally holes that start with a 5 and it says par 4, are generally the problem, yeah. (Laughter) So that tends to be that one.

Q. How important is it to you that it stays dry this week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it favors it gives more people more opportunities I think if it's dry, yes. The fairways will be firmer and faster running and therefore, we'll be hitting the ball up to 300 yards plus, and that gives more medium length hitters like myself, more opportunity to do well, yeah.

Q. Will you be hitting a fade for a draw on these very long par 4s?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, on the right to left holes, I hope to draw it, and on the left to right holes, I hope to fade it sorry.

Q. You're a natural drawer of the ball, aren't you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not particularly, but I have a way of doing that, yes. I have a way of drawing the ball, but there's no course, and I've said this here before, there's no course that's ever hurt by hitting the ball dead straight, and this one included, yeah.

Q. So did you hit 4 or 5 iron into 11 then or what did you have?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, a 4 iron I'm hitting off a 300 yard drive. I'm going in with a 4 iron to about 210 to the middle off a 300 yard drive. I'm hitting about 4 iron because it plays downhill. That's about what happens, and if the drive doesn't happen to go 300 yards, you begin to struggle. But it's not just the 4 iron in there, it's the hazards around it. Left isn't really good and right is not much better, really. So you're struggling.

So it's a very, very difficult golf hole. It was before, and is now, more so.

Q. Phil Mickelson is using two drivers in his bag this week.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, he is, yes.

Q. What's your reaction to that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think with the manufacturers now being able to do that, I think it's sensible. He's sort of caught everybody on the hot, really, I think and good luck to him. He tried it last week as an experiment and it certainly worked. Won by, what was it 14 or something crazy. I think you'll find, and not just on this course, you'll find a lot of people using two drivers now. Why try and change one swing to accommodate a hole. Why not if the club is designed to go left or right or whatever, why not use that? We have a number of courses that you can think of immediately that would favor both and certainly used more than a 3 iron or 4 iron in a round of golf. There's no reason why that can't be the same. It will give him an advantage of hitting the fairways around here which we all know is crucial. The rough isn't long, but we need control from the fairways and distance.

Q. Will you go down the same route on that? And the other thing I wanted to ask is sitting home last year, does it make you even more determined to do well this time in a major where unlike the others, you've never really contended?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I haven't really contended here. 14th time here, well, I've played 13 and had one Top 10, so that's not really contending unfortunately.

Sitting at home watching it last year made me very determined to try to get back into it, yes, certainly. It hurt slightly because I was actually playing quite well at the time and knowing you can compete and I just wasn't able to do so.

No, I just look forward to look forward to trying to challenge here, you know, like I haven't done in the past.

Q. Have you ever done the two driver route?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's definite he's got people thinking here and there's no reason why not to use two drivers. I thought there was a three head cover rule in golf and never ever have four head covers, but it seems to be like four is okay now with two drivers and a 3 wood and a rescue type club.

You know, good luck to him. If he thinks that's going to help him, all credit to him. It might not help others but I'll certainly look into it on certain courses which do move quite considerably, if there are a lot of dog leg holes, if you like, as opposed to straightaways, well, you have to look into it, of course you do.

Q. Tiger also said he's got his senior club in, his 5 wood?


Q. Yes, is that something you see, a lot more fairway woods and irons coming up?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If he's changing, and he can hit his 2 iron to sky and drop it on a dime, I think that's the club that's used a lot on this particular course. If 4 now plays slightly into the wind, he's using it there, the second as well, the 8th, 13, 15, you know, so it's a club that can be used a lot around here, definitely.

But I'm sure that's only in here for sort of this type of golf course.

Q. Do you think the length of the course is the reason why Europeans haven't won since '99 or do you think there's some other reason?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't think that length is our issue. I think we hit the ball as far. It just so happens that we haven't won since 1999. We had a great, great record throughout the late '80s and mid '90s as Europeans. It just so happens that others have won it since. Just coincidence, really, more than it is a lack of European talent.

Q. A little off the beaten path, I'm sure you're aware that Tiger's dad has been quite ill for a bit.


Q. As somebody who has gone through the public eye with personal issues, albeit different, how difficult is it to be out there concentrating on golf?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is very difficult. It is very difficult, and we all wish his father well. But at the same time, it is hard when you make birdies and stuff. You can walk to the next tee and not think about things, but if you do make a mistake and you make a bogey or something, well, it tends to affect you more. We just wish Tiger and his father well and you know, there was talk about Tiger not competing here and we're all glad that he is.

Q. Just as a follow, did you at all, even though it was different circumstance, did you find your mind wandering toward, you know, your personal life at all during those periods when it was hardest for you, when there's a lot of idle time on the golf course?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I make very few birdies so it was easy to get my mind wandering, making a lot of bogeys. It was fine, my mind was wandering all over the place, if only it was bogeys, it was doubles, also. I was wandering all over the place. (Laughter).

Yes, it is difficult, I think in any business where it's done in the public eye, when there are troubles at home, if you like, but it's difficult to concentrate.

Q. You used to feel that the driver was the club that won the U.S. Open but the putter was the club which won The Masters. Have these changes changed that in any way or can you putt less well now and get a green jacket?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, you can't putt anything but spectacularly here to win, unfortunately.

We feel the best putter in the world right now is the best player in the world and that's why he's got four of these things already. To hole out from eight foot on a regular basis here is very, very difficult, very difficult to get the pace and the line exactly right. He seems to do that better than anybody, and so it's not just the hitting of the golf ball. It's get the thing in from eight foot that counts.

That's what I did particularly well at the Open, because I happened to hole out very well from eight foot, and it's the person that does that the best this week, again, that's going to win this thing.

Q. Seems like that's a mental thing as much as technique, if you have them over and over and over again?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is. If one or two go in early on, you tend to get the pace and the confidence of them going in. I've always been a great believer, if you're confident of doing something, you're halfway to achieving it, but if these few miss early on, it could be a long day.

Q. Given that back home you're 150 to 1 to win here, given your form coming into the tournament and your record here

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's about right, yeah.

Q. Is that fair or would you just put, between those of us in this room

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, fine, we'll just have a private conversation.

Q. Is there anything in your mindset in your game to advise us to put a bet on you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think that's a fairly good bet, 150 to 1. I can still compete.

Q. You've gone from the man American galleries love to hate to respected elder statesman of European golf.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you for that.

Q. Do you think the Americans recognized you last year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'd like to think so, slightly.

Q. Has there been anything in the reception you've got?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've gotten a good reception around here, I must admit. It's been very good and very fair and very warm. I feel comfortable playing here. I possibly didn't a few years back through the late '90s, but I feel a great warmth here. I look forward to competing, yeah.

Q. Is it, "Go Monty" instead of, "Go home, Monty".

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You can say that, one of your great headlines, go on. (Laughter).

Q. If you can recover the form that you had late last summer, do you think that would be good enough to win here this week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It will have a chance. I'm not saying I'm playing well enough to win possibly. But I remember someone saying in '91 that if anyone wanted to throw it away, it would be quite nice if I'm just there to pick it up, if you know what I mean. But I'm probably not playing well enough to win but I'm probably good enough to win if someone else doesn't want to.

Q. Other than Woosy's unfortunate incident at Lytham, can you recall anybody who had two drivers in their bag before? (Laughter)?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That was unfortunate. I don't know. No, no. Not on purpose, no.

Q. How much do you think about the Ryder Cup and are you going to play the par 3 tomorrow?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm playing the par 3, yes. They had a tribute dinner, between Glasgow and someone bid on it in an auction and won and he's come out here to caddie for me in the par 3 and I'm playing in that tomorrow.

Regarding the Ryder Cup, my God, let's just try and concentrate on this first and we'll get through the four majors first before we start discussing that problem in September.

CRAIG HEATLEY: Colin, thanks very much.

End of FastScripts.

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