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September 25, 2002
SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND
GORDON SIMPSON: Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieux, Sam Torrance, Part II conference.
SAM TORRANCE: I just wanted to -- maybe I've confused you earlier on the 10th tee. When I said I may move it if my players ask me to, I don't know why I said it. It is not going to happen, it is going to be off the back tee all week. I was not trying anything, promise. It is off the back tee, and it won't go changing. If you have any questions other than that, or I'll leave you with Colin.
Q. What did you say?
SAM TORRANCE: Sometimes you make a mistake. I don't know why it came out, I said if my players ask me -- I'll explain to Colin, because he wasn't here. They asked about the 10th tee, "are you going to move it" and I said "no, unless my players ask me." But I make the decision and I'll stand by it. I spoke to Curtis, and he's okay.
GORDON SIMPSON: Colin, it's nice to see you here. Maybe some people thought you wouldn't be here, but you probably always did. Are you getting back in the mood again, now that you've had two days practice?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's a tournament obviously I look forward to and I'm glad I'm fit enough to play. And if asked I'm fit enough to play every game. It depends on how Sam see things, and how things go. So I'm here and part of a team and looking forward to it.
Q. Colin, can I ask you how close you did come recently to believing you wouldn't be fit enough to play?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There were certain times -- I wouldn't have traveled here if I wouldn't have played five times. But there was times over the last two months where I really thought I wasn't going to -- I was going to have to take the rest of the year off. There were times I didn't think I was going to play.
Q. Could be the rest of the year at one point?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If I wouldn't be here, I would take the rest of the year off sort of thing.
Q. When was the worst time?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: When I had to pull out of Seattle. Pulled out of two tournaments, one is in Perth, Australia, and one was in Seattle, Washington. That's a long way from home. So it's been disappointing. But it's okay now. And I'm fine now.
Q. For those of us not on the Tour regularly, remind us, what's the diagnosis on your back and what are the possible long-term concerns?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's no long-term concerns, as long as I look after myself and get some time off and get fit. And unfortunately there's never a good time for us to take off and have to figure that out sometimes where I can take 10, 12 weeks off and come back and stay fit, almost precautionary measures, as opposed to reactive, which I'm doing now. But it's okay. There's nothing untoward. And I've got a problem and I've got to deal with it. It's self-help right now, unfortunately, that's sometimes the toughest way.
Q. Colin, is there any link between the fact that it was Perth and Seattle, long time in airplane seats may have caused the back problems?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. I think it's a contribution of stress over a number of years, obviously, doing the wrong job, if you like, the right job for some, the wrong job for physical reasons, and hitting as many shots as we have over the last 20 years. And I think we all have a problem. If you take ten guys off the street that play golf regularly, I think four or five might have the same problem as me, it's just affected me more than most.
Q. Colin, what chance do you have of winning back the Ryder Cup and what's the confidence level like within the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We have a great chance. Obviously, it's a two-horse race. And we have a super chance. I think that it's going to be very close again. I think that's understandable. I think over the last seven Ryder Cups it's 98 points all, I believe, if you look at the records. It's very, very close, one of the closest competitions in world sports. And that's why it gets your attention, gets our attention. And I think it's going to be close, and it will come down to someone's game on Sunday will sort of turn the matches either way, and always has been that way over the last sort of six or seven matches I've played in. And there's no reason why it shouldn't be that way again.
Q. And the confidence level?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The confidence level within the team, we have a good team spirit. Sam has been excellent and learned absolute from an excellent captain last time in Mike James, and he was in that team room all the time with Mark, and has learned a lot from him. And has taken his good points along with him and he's been an excellent captain so far with the team spirit. And I think we're very confident.
Q. Over the course of your career, you've played in all the Majors at different times, but this event perhaps more than the individual majors seems to be the one that's brought out the best in you. Do you have any thoughts on why that should be the case, and what is it about the Ryder Cup that galvanizes Colin Montgomerie?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've played reasonably well in this competition, I don't know why it should be. I think I have more freedom with the putts because it's match play, and I hit the ball harder on the greens, and the ball seems to go in more than not. I like match play, I like a one-on-one situation. I like to see my opponent playing alongside me as opposed to 150 other guys, spread all over the course, I prefer that idea. So I just like match play. I like the format and I like the form of it and I tend to do quite well. I think the freedom on the greens is huge, to have the freedom of a partner to hole the sort of return putt, if you like. In fourball. And also in singles you tend to hit the ball firmer, because it's match play, and I enjoy that.
Q. Do you regard Brookline as the best you've ever played?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: In America, yes. I've played well in Europe over the years, I suppose. But in America that was the best I've played, yeah.
Q. Of all the thousands of shots that you've hit in competitive golf, where would you rate the drive that you had to hit at Valderrama on the last hole there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Apart from the opening tee shot in Oak Hill in '95, I was very nervous there, because it all goes with expectation. If you're expected to do something, it's always quite difficult to achieve. It's always putting more pressure on one's self. And I was expected to hit the fairway on the first hole at Oak Hill -- very, very difficult thing to achieve. And I was sort of half expecting to hit the fairway at Valderrama, as well. And when you're expected to do something, in any walk of life it's quite difficult to achieve, I suppose, so I was quite proud of the way that I managed to hit the fairways on both these occasions.
Q. Knowing the situation that --?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Knowing the situation, we didn't want to tie the game, and we felt that it would be a morale victory, if you like, for the United States, if it was a tie, how far we were ahead. And we wanted to try to win. And the team that has come from behind and ties a Ryder Cup feels a morale victory, if you like. I know we would have retained it, anyway, but at the same time we wanted to try to win. It was important I got at least a half out of the last game. And it wasn't very nice weather, and I look back on that shot with fond memories for a long, long time.
Q. Do you agree that over the last ten years that gamesmanship has become a point of concern, and do you think this particular event might be different?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it was certainly a concern the last Ryder Cup we played and I think with what happened in America last year, that it will be different. I hope it's still as competitive as it's been without going over the top, I suppose, as it was in Brookline. And I feel that it's -- it is a game of golf, as I heard Tiger say here the other day, it's not life and death, here. And we do respect each other and the crowd hopefully will respect each other, as well, and it will be a good golfing event.
Q. You mentioned earlier the closeness of the matches over the last several years. What reasons do you attribute that to, the fact that it always does seem to be close, no matter what the form of the players or who's favored or what have you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know why it should be that close. I think 18-hole match play is very quick. I tend to agree that if the matches were played over 36 holes, the results might have been different over the years, but they aren't, they're over 18 holes and that's the way it is. And I think over 18 holes it's more even. If the Americans have been favorites the last, I don't know, ten occasions, possibly, and haven't always won. And I think that's because it's over 18 holes. Someone gets up early and can hang on. And I think that's the main reason it's been close, is because it's only been played over 18 holes.
Q. Colin, give us a perspective, please, if you will, on what it's like playing -- working closely with players that you would normally be opposed to on regular European Tour events, how is it different?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's actually very easy for us. We tend -- as a European Tour -- we tend to travel more as a group of players as opposed, as I do, when I'm playing in America. And we tend to share courtesy cars, we share airplanes, we tend to meet up in the bars and hotels in the evenings before we go out to dinner. We are closer, I believe, anyway, than the American TOUR in general. And I feel that it's easier for us to help each other out and play alongside each other.
Q. The idea of civility between the teams, I know that Curtis and Sam have talked about it together a fair bit in the last couple of years. Have the players at all discussed it among themselves, Europeans and Americans, about the importance of that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think without discussing it between us, I don't think we really have discussed it between us. We understand the position that we're in for the good of the game of golf here, and I feel that it is very important that we show a certain example to the crowd and hopefully they can react to our behavior, if you like, on and off the course. And if that's the case, we can look forward not just to this Ryder Cup but to many more in the future.
Q. Would you have any concern -- not concern, but would you feel that if it did become much more civil and the tone changed a lot, it may not be as popular to the mass public around the world?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. I think you all like controversy and in certain different ways, but I think for the good of the Ryder Cup I think it has to calm down slightly.
Q. You mentioned Mark James a moment ago. I just wonder if you could speak to a couple of years ago, he was here in a different role, just what he's been here. And second, a story I heard yesterday about a fellow, I guess you gave a chance with a par-3 yesterday to a chap?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, Mark really was a brilliant captain and especially when he talked to you at Brookline. It was the best part of the day for everyone concerned. He did a brilliant job for us all and it was a shame that we just came up half a point short. And then for him to get ill the way he did, and I'm sure there was something to do with the stress related to the job that he was trying to do for the last two years and hopefully he'll be okay. He's a very good asset in our team room right now, very good asset for Sam to have someone of his experience, if you like. He's been connected with the last 11 Ryder Cups, I believe, for Europe and has an awful lot of experience in our team room and is a very great asset to us.
As regards to my chip shot at the 12th, I hit a terrible shot yesterday at the 12th, right, and had a horrible lie and I didn't fancy it. So the guy in the crowd thought he did. I gave him my club and he hit it stiff (laughter.) So of course I had to have a go, and I chipped up and missed the putt. Steve -- I don't know his surname -- but he's Steve. And he's 1-up, anyway. And he did all right. But that's just practice rounds, I suppose, here. It's quite good, because it can get quite tense, even the practice rounds, realize that there's a lot of people here, the stands are full, and it can get quite tense even for the rookies, I suppose, as well. And it's tiring having to sign autographs between the greens and the tees and to have all the crowd well-wishing and everything. It is quite tiring. And it's important that we save as much energy as possible, because it's a very tiring week, not just -- people say playing, say four times before the singles, that's the best part of 15 hours a day, where by the time you get up to the time you finish, having to concentrate that length of time and playing every shot for your partner, yourself and of course your opponents, you're playing all those shots, as well, it is very tiring, mentally. And you need to be as fresh as possible.
Q. In the previous two Ryder Cups, I think, you've been Europe's number one. And it would seem so unofficially the team leader. Given that you're not in that position this time, what are the dynamics of the team and are they any different for you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not particularly, no. I still feel I have that sort of on-course role, if you like, if it's not off-course, because we have more senior members. But on the course Bernhard and myself would be seen as on-course leaders, I suppose. And it's a nice position to be in. It's a position that I like and thrive on, if you like. Rookies have come up to me already and asked certain questions and certain ideas about what's what. And it might be a little bit frightening to ask certain questions, but they could ask me and I could relate to whatever. So I feel I have that sort of on-course role. Obviously not an off-course role because that's down to a captain.
Q. Do you think that part of the reason for your performance in Brookline was the hostility coming from outside the ropes, that that actually brought something extra out you have? Did you almost want to win more than you've ever wanted to win a major or anything like that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Does the same still apply?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no. No, it doesn't. That was very, very difficult and very -- I don't know what to say about Brookline. Everything has been said. There's so much been said about that. But on a personal level it was very difficult and the more it went on the more that Paul Lawrie and I had to put up with the first two days, forgetting the singles match, the more I took on a role of I don't want to lose. And when I'm in that position I fight like I never have before, I suppose, in that competition, and I did okay. I holed putts I wouldn't have normally and Paul and I did particularly well. And it was an event that I'll always look back on with memories. I'm not saying all fond, but memories, because of the fact that the last singles match I had with the late Payne Stewart, and it was a very difficult time, and it was -- the way he dealt with the situation that I was in on the Sunday, with regard to his own performance, I'm sure that -- I'll never forget when he won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the first thing he said was he was in the Ryder Cup team, and he was thrilled to be in the Ryder Cup team, even more than he was winning the U.S. Open. It meant so much to him to represent his country. And to have drawn against me, if you like, of all people, in the singles match was -- I'm sure that it hurt his game, as well as it did my own. And it was a shame the way it finished. He'd had enough, I had enough, and he picked my ball up at the last, I'll never forget that. And I look back on Brookline with memories, they're not all fond. But that match I will always think of with fond memories, of that game with him.
Q. Will you be trying to get yourself fired up in some way to give a similar type performance?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think the need will arise that that happens. I obviously will be giving my all as I always have in the Ryder Cup. It just happens that it was a negative part of the crowd that I turned into a positive for myself. And hopefully that negative part of the crowd will not be here this year. And if they are, well, let's hope they're here for a very short time.
Q. Colin, getting back to what you said about the European Tour and the camaraderie, do you guys feel like the underdogs at the Ryder Cup. Does that contribute to the cohesiveness, and do you feel like you have a better certain camaraderie than the Americans do?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We tend to feel that way. I think because we always tend to do better in the first series of games. We always tend to be sort of level or up after the Saturday evening. And then America tends to be better in the singles, and it seems to work. The same sort of thing happened with the girls in the Solheim Cup, that we tend to do well in the team format, and then in the singles, you know, it goes more in a world-ranking-type basis. So hopefully when Sam comes in here on Saturday evening that we're ahead, and we take that on for a change, as opposed to losing the singles matches. We've won very few singles series, if you like, over the last 20 years. And let's hope we can change that this time.
Q. Going back to Brookline, you're saying in effect that you played, as you did there, because of what went on rather than in spite of what went on? You wouldn't want to be stimulated in that way, again, would you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't want that to happen again for anybody, myself or my team, anybody. Even the American team, I wouldn't want that to happen to anybody.
Q. Did you play well because of that, did that fire you up or did you do it in spite of that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A bit of both, really. I wouldn't say because of. I wouldn't say it was in spite of. The more that was said the better I became. Now, you can put that into your own words. But I don't think it was either way, to be honest with you. I feel that the more it happened, the more determined that I became to succeed, to beat it, if you like.
Q. Do you suppose the motivation is greater or different than it may have been at Oak Hill because of the way the Americans won the cup? Whether that would be the whole concerns of Brookline or the fact you were leading 10-6, and they came back and won?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't understand Oak Hills relevance.
Q. The fact the U.S. had the Cup when you went to Oak Hill, and you were motivated to get it back. Was the motivation now, not just because they have the Cup, but because of the way it was won?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. I think not having the Cup I think it would be nice to have it here in Europe. I don't think how that Cup was won last time has any effect on it, really. I mean what happened has been written about so often, but what tends to be forgotten is that the USA team played hell of a well on Sunday, hell of a well. And it tend to be forgotten, if you like, because of scenes later on that day. But people tend to forget that most of their team was well under par on a very difficult day. And I don't think -- I think it would be nice to sort of finish Sam Torrance's career, if you like. It means an awful lot to him. He's a very emotional man, and I know him very well. He's from the same -- not just the same country as me, but the same county as me in Scotland, and I know him very well and I know what it means to him. It would be nice to finish off his career with a win for his sake.
Q. You've talked very well about the actual competing part of it, but could you just describe a little bit what it's like in the period we're in now, the Monday through Friday, wanting to get on with it but not being able to?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. We do arrive for the Ryder Cup early, I suppose. I very rarely get to a tournament on Monday, never mind starting on a Thursday. But I think it's quite good for the team unity, I suppose, to get together. We've had a sort of casual dinner. We had a more formal dinner last night. And then we've got a very formal dinner this evening, and another casual one tomorrow before we go into it. So I think it's quite good for the team unity, the wives, the partners, the players, to all get together and sit with each other and have dinner and talk about other things and to try and get some team spirit together. That's the main reason why we arrive so early, to be honest with you. We know this golf course quite well. We play here, as you know. We have a tournament here in the European Tour, and we all tend to play here. So we know the course. Another practice round tomorrow isn't going to change our view on anything or whatever. So it's just mainly a team unity situation for the first three or four days before the tournament begins.
Q. It seems that you're one day going to be the Ryder Cup captain. How would you play the situation of the 10th hole, whether it's backwards, forwards, the tees, would you make a statement and say I'm not going to play the back tees or the front tees?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm quite fortunate, because when I, or if I'm fortunate enough to become Ryder Cup captain, we won't be playing at the Belfry. So that decision will never fall on me, because the next time we're back in Britain will be 2030. And you certainly won't be asking the question anyway (laughter.) And I probably won't be answering it.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the importance of the captains in Ryder Cup play, and in your various experiences can one captain outcoach the other so to speak? I look back to Seve in Valderrama, he and Tom Kite had kind of different ways of going about things, and certainly in '99, the passion of Ben Crenshaw maybe was a factor?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think you're right, I think Ben Crenshaw did a very good job. He must have done on Saturday evening. Whatever was said Saturday evening in that team room worked. And he must have done a very, very good job, as Seve did with us in '97. Tom Kite brought what we would think was America's strongest team in the last 20 years, possibly, since '81, and I think that Tom Kite brought over the strongest team then. And I think we were inspired with Seve as a captain. And I think that the captain is a very, very important part of the team. And that's why we feel this time we're very fortunate to have Sam as a captain for us. And he's been inspirational so far and I'm sure that will continue.
Q. What does Sam bring to the table here for you that has everybody's attention?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Inspiration, emotion, and confidence. He's brought a lot of confidence to the team which is great.
Q. Sam was saying earlier they thought they were more relaxed than he's ever seen you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I suppose so, yeah. I don't have the number one tag, if you like, and I think that's quite good. It's a more relaxing position I'm in. The first time since we came here in '93 that I haven't had that position when I'm playing in the Ryder Cup. And I think that it does bring its pressure on, being the number one player in Europe. I was talking earlier on about the expectation of having to win is more difficult, possibly. And now I don't have that pressure, if you like, and stress, and I think he's right, I'm more relaxed because of that.
Q. Any other examples you could give?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I thought that was quite a good example (laughter.) No.
Q. Does it amuse you by the end of the week you could become the hero of the English media?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The hero of who?
Q. Of the English media?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know. I suppose we all have that chance, I suppose, of playing -- as I said, it's going to come down to somebody's game, come Sunday, I'm sure it is. And I hope it does, either way. I hope it does come down to someone's game on Sunday, because that means it's close, and that's what this event is all about. And I think that someone's game on Sunday is going to win it or lose it. And if that happens to be me, well -- all fine and good, I'll take that on. But if not, I'll be hoping that it's somebody else on our side and good luck to them, because I know the pressure involved in having to come down the last few holes of a tournament and having to play certain shots when your teammates are watching you. It's a very, very difficult task. You forget the crowd, you're only interested in your 11 other teammates watching you, not wanting to let them down. If it's me, well, I've done it before, and if it's somebody else, good luck to them.
Q. Could you talk about the possibilities of playing with Lee Westwood or playing with him and what that would be like, and what do you think the benefits of are of you two together?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, obviously it's not difficult to see. You're obviously made your own views on what's been going on, and I'm sure the American team, the American writers have done the same thing, seen who Tiger is playing with or who Davis or whatever the case may be, in practice. And I happen to have been paired with Lee Westwood the first two days. It doesn't take Einstein to work out that there's a possibility I might be playing with him. Great. I think Lee has never suffered through lack of nerves or lack of emotion; it's just that he's lost his swing a little bit over the last couple of years, and has a confidence thing. But I'm sure that this -- and I'm sure it was going to happen and it has happened that Lee Westwood has played very, very well the last two days, and he's very confident and I would take him as a partner, I'd be very happy to have him as a partner. He's never suffered because of nerves or anything like that. And I think that's what it's all about on the first tee on Friday. I'm sure he said the same thing, I think form goes out the window and it's all about who can handle one's self come Friday. And he's certainly one that can handle himself. I've had a few battles with him over the years in European tournaments, and I can vouch for him in a strong way.
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