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November 8, 2000

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Colin, you've usually got your mathematics right. We know what you have to do. Have you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, in a way. It's quite simple: I have to win. And I wanted to come in last week; it didn't happen. I had a bad round on Saturday, and pulled it back on Sunday. But too little, too late, unfortunately. This time, I have to play four very, very good rounds. I know I've done it before here, having to win in '93 - as you're probably aware, my first Valderrama victory, I had to win - I was in fifth place coming in behind Seve and Faldo and Langer and Woosnam, who were all ahead of me, and managed to win. Results from them weren't to my favor in '93, and I won it. I'm going with that now. I'm a much better player now than I was then. It was a European Tour event, but at the same time, and this is a world event, the field's stronger, obviously, this time around. But I'm a better player as well. I'm confident of doing well. That's all I can say. I mean, it depends. All I can control is my own ball and no one else's. If Darren or Lee or whoever finishes second or third, even if I win, hopefully, I'll be the first person to congratulate them. As I said, it's been a very long time. In sport, to be on top of the tree for this length of time is unusual. I'm very proud of the record that I've held, so proud of it that I don't want to lose it.

GORDON SIMPSON: I think you said as well '95 the back nine was as good a nine holes as you've ever played.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I had a lot of success here. I enjoy being here and having an awful lot of success here. I'll never forget '95, after '93 with Sam Torrance what I had to do that back nine and achieved it. Then again of course in '97 during the Ryder Cup, when I had to come down the last hole. I'll never forget that either. There's a number of times I came down that last hole at Valderrama that it's worked out. Hopefully the year 2000 will be no different.

Q. What makes this such a good golf course?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's so many different shots to be hit. Every tee you stand on, there's a certain way, depending on the player you are or the situation you're in, to playing the hole. Every hole has a best way of playing it, whether you're 5-over or 5-under. Actually, this course, with the wind directions and stuff, it does change. So it's a very interesting course to play. Depending on the wind direction, there are usually on a golf course, as I was saying, there are sort of ways of playing a hole. Here, there isn't, because the wind direction suggests you can do one or another. And the 2nd hole, for instance, today, I was practicing this morning. You go -- you can hit a driver down the left, 2-iron up the right, 3-wood in the middle. Because now they push the tee back 25 yards on the 2nd, that tree really comes into play now. There's a different way of playing the hole than there was normally. So it doesn't mean it's a par 4. It's a driver, which I don't like anyway. I like playing chess around the course, and I enjoy the challenge of it. Every hole has its own potential disasters and own challenges.

Q. Much has been made about the American players not coming over here.


Q. What could possibly be done to make this event more attractive to some of those players?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's difficult. It's a difficult situation for everybody, and everybody understands the American situation. I mean, I was quoted in a paper today saying that I -- something, I was backing Tiger for coming over here and slamming the rest for not. Well, I didn't do that. All I did was I praised Tiger for coming. That doesn't mean I'm slamming the rest of them. All I was doing was praising one guy. So let's try and get that straight, for one. Everyone has -- this is a very individual game we play. We only are together once every couple of years really. And for an individual game, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. Whether they want to travel or not is entirely up to themselves. I can't -- very difficult for me to answer questions what can I do or what could be done to change these tournaments to make everybody enter them. I mean, it's a very difficult situation, you know? They're not majors. We have to accept that, that people do turn up for majors. Nowadays, with the amount of money that's around in the world game, that sometimes people don't travel. I can't speak for them, I'm afraid. I can only speak for myself.

Q. Speaking for yourself, and as a follow-up somewhat to this, what do you suppose you'll do next year when they ask you to go over to Ohio and then three weeks later to St. Louis for this, and it's two weeks before the Ryder Cup?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure. Well, I'll be there. That's all I can say, speaking for myself, you know? I'm looking forward. That's the Bellerive tournament, isn't it?

Q. Right.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I enjoyed playing there when the PGA was there, when Nick Price won in '93, I believe, was it? That's a great course. I enjoy playing. I'll be there. That's all I can say about that. You'll probably find when it is over in the States that most Americans will be playing there. It's just a long way to travel at this time of year. I can understand that. It's up to them. I can't speak for them.

Q. You don't think this puts a burden on European players to make them go over the ocean twice before such a big event as the Ryder Cup?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't feel that's a problem. We're not travelling to the Ryder Cup; we're just going home for it. I mean, me, personally, if I happen to qualify for the team, I'll just drive up the road from my home Monday or Tuesday morning. I mean, there's no problem about that, having played in America two weeks before. None at all.

Q. Can you recall the defining moment when you won your first Order of Merit?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I was playing against Darren Clarke, actually, and I knew what I had to do. I knew the situation. I had to win the tournament. It was the first time anyone ever got to 10-under on this golf course. It was very wet, placing was in order, and it was amazing. Darren was 2-behind playing the last, and he birdied the hole. And I had two putts to win from the back edge. I lagged it down there, and it just stopped, just stopped short of the hole. I could handle it from about 2 inches. That was amazing for me, because I had beaten people that I had grown up idolizing, if you like. The four people that were ahead of me in the Order of Merit, as I mentioned earlier on, were people that I watched play majors and win majors and had a sort of good rapport with. And, also, I feel that you got admiration for them all. And then to beat them, was, "Wow!" You know? It was most important for me in '94 to continue that. That wasn't, for me, that was -- you know me well enough now, everybody here knows the ambition and the drive that I have. That was just a start. I really sat down to winning it again in '94. Once that was achieved, then it became easier. But '94 was actually vital for me to stay in that position. I could not go down in that stage of my career. '93 was a bonus; '94 was vital to keep going.

Q. The changes to Valderrama that you've described a little early on, you sounded very happy with those changes. Do you feel that Colin Montgomerie has a better chance here at Valderrama in the year 2000 than 1999?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The changes are good, they always have been here. The course is longer than it was, a lot longer, the 2nd, the 3rd, the 7th, and the 4th. They've all been increased in length. But it still has its own unique playability, this golf course. I think the changes are good. I think you'll find most of the players enjoy playing here. The rough is less severe than it has been, but you don't want to go in it because you can't control the second shot. It's a very, very difficult golf course. The greens are very firm, very fast. It's very difficult, especially in wind like this. I mean, if you get round here in level par like a day like this, you've done very well. Although you might have played it yourself, I don't think it's an amateur's golf course. I don't think people enjoy it that much, as amateur golfers. But we enjoy the challenge of it. That's what I enjoy in golf.

Q. One more follow-up, what is your disappointment that this championship is not maybe the same field, the same depth that it had last year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think everybody who came over last year was intrigued to find out what Valderrama was all about. We had a good field, a very, very strong field last year, obviously. This year's not so. I think it's been another long year. The money in America has increased in such a degree that sometimes people don't wish to travel. I can understand their view.

Q. Is it disappointment on your part?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Disappointment on my part? Not at all. It makes it easier to win. Not at all. I'd like actually another 54 guys to withdraw, and I'll be left on my own. (Laughter.) That would be fine by me. But not disappointing to me. It's still a world-class field, because we have the world's best player here, and that's very important. And all credit to him for doing what he's doing in this next month, because he's playing four tournaments on four different continents. All credit to him for doing that.

Q. A year ago you criticized the prize money here. I think you said it made a mockery of the European Tour. Now, in fact, that could put you over the top. Your reflections on that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, it's worked in reverse in a way. But at the same time, Volvo Masters has doubled its prize money from last year as well, so the difference isn't so great. We are catching up with our own prize money, and our prize money is good from the Volvo to double the prize money from 1 million pounds to 2 million pounds, that's $3 million if you like. That's the biggest prize we've played for, so the gap isn't as big as it used to be, so that difference isn't as great.

Q. This drive and ambition that you were talking about, when did it first manifest itself?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: When I was about four, I wanted to hole a putt or something, when I was four years old. You think, "Okay, there's something." Family noticed there was something there. You know? You've always got that, I think. You don't find it. You either have it or you don't. I was fortunate to be born with a talent and ability, and also an ambition to succeed. Put them together, well, there's a template there for success.

Q. I've read varying reports on your plans for (Andersen Consulting) Match Play in Australia. Can you qualify --?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I made the decision when we discussed that before.

GORDON SIMPSON: December 22 is the final date when you have to make the decision.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You'll know by then what I'm doing.

Q. Can you discuss what might go into your decision?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I have a family holiday around that time of year, and I would leave that family holiday to go down to Melbourne, or not. So I'm going to make the decision later on in the year.

Q. Lastly, you said of this tournament that it's still a world-class field because it's got the world's best player in it. What about (Andersen Consulting) Match Play? Will it still be a world-class field if Tiger doesn't go?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I can't speak for an event that's a couple of months away, to be honest. We'll see the field when it is announced down at Melbourne. But I think all of us here agree, and all officials agree, that the timing is not perfect for that event, and it's a shame the way it's worked. But to fit in with the West Coast schedule of the US Tour, it had to come at that time. But it's unfortunate, but the calendar year is not long enough.

Q. You began talking about how you knew when you first started, all the great players (inaudible). Do you feel you're on the brink of something similar to that again, given the level of competition there has been this year for the Order of Merit?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I think the word "Order of Merit" didn't mean much to me 20 years ago when people won it. It was being shared between the Seve's and Faldo's and Norman's or whatever, won it. And you have a type of people sharing it around. Then this time that I've been on top has brought it to a fore, I believe. And now it's come to a stage where it might change. Now people are talking about it a lot more than they would normally. I think the level of competition in Europe now is as strong as it's been, as strong as I've known, in my time at the top. I used to be competing with the likes of Faldo, Langer. Langer was always there in my era. In '93, '94, '95, he was always around the first. Woosnam as well. And they aren't playing the schedules that they were then. Now it's been taken over by the likes of newcomers like Thomas Bjorn, Clarke, Westwood, Michael Campbell, for instance. We've got good players coming through: Harrington, Phillip Price. These guys that are all, I would say, world-class players. And the competition is as good as it has been for a long time. It all goes well for the Ryder Cup situation, because these players have been the backbone now of our Ryder Cup. I mean, we've got a good, new backbone that possibly we didn't have in '97, '99; and we did awfully well here in '97. '99 we were a very, very young team, and we did awfully well. But 2001, we should be more mature with the same players having improved.

Q. This letter signed by the players on the European Tour, talking about the money, asking where it goes, I would like to know your thoughts. And you said you will play in America more next year. Did you think about the tournaments?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: To answer your second question first, I think I'll go to America a week or two before a major to give myself an opportunity of winning one, because this, the European Order of Merit situation has been done. I got a t-shirt for that one, so I'm all right there. So I'll be playing whatever tournaments before the US Open and possibly US PGA that I haven't done in the past. I'll add a couple of tournaments, nothing drastic, just giving myself a chance to climatize, something I haven't done in the past. To answer your first question, I'm on the Tournament Committee of the European Tour, and I don't feel it's my position to be signing bits of paper to audit a Tour that I am responsible for, for some of the rules of. Apparently, the Tour opened up the situation every year to questions to the AGM or whatever the case may be. It's coming to that time anyway, so I don't see what the problem is.

Q. How do you rank yourself as a player at this minute? Good? Very good? Great?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Tough one there. How do I rank myself as a player? Pretty good. (Laughter.)

Q. Could be better?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, Tiger Woods would sit here and say, "Could be better." So, therefore, we all feel that. Could be a lot better in a number of areas, and I'm always learning. I hope we all are. No one ever gets to the stage in any business where we feel we've reached that pinnacle and there's nowhere to go. Hopefully we can always improve, in your jobs and mine. But at the same time, pretty good, pretty good. If I stop playing now, if I don't hit another golf ball in my life, I'll have had a good time of it, and I'll think back and look at the trophy cabinet in my house and feel very proud of what I've achieved.

End of FastScripts....

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