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February 21, 2006

Colin Montgomerie


SCOTT CROCKETT: Colin, welcome, as always. Thanks for coming in. Just talk us through the first round match. You have Niclas Fasth; tell us your thoughts about that.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Fine. I've come a long way to play someone from the other continent. But that's what happens in these things. And I look forward to the game tomorrow. As everyone said, I'm not saying anything different than anyone, that everyone is capable of beating anyone on any given day and that's what makes this tournament interesting. We will try, obviously, and get through tomorrow.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You've had a great last 12 months, Colin. It's all taken off from here, even though you weren't here last year.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's nice to get back into things and get back into these events. And it's difficult to miss out on three events that I'm into this year; this one, the TPC and The Masters I wasn't into. So that's nice to have that in the schedule and I look forward to trying to make those three tournaments.

Q. Were you ever going to play last week at Nissan, having played well last year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I was going to have a go there, on the way through from Perth, but decided I'd go home and practice, instead, and get my game right for this event and also for the rest of the year. I think sometimes when you miss a cut or two, it's a blessing in disguise. You take heed of what's been going on and what's been going wrong. And you think, okay, I'll change this or do that. So it worked out very well. I've come here with added confidence.

Q. What was going wrong?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Just a couple of technical things, really, more than anything, which it's nice to talk about technical things for a change. So it's nice. And I went back and sorted it out and come here refreshed, if you like.

Q. Fixed in a day or two, was it?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, with me it generally fixes in about three or four shots, generally (laughter). It doesn't usually take very long. Somebody watches me and they go, oh, I my God, you know, what are you doing there? It hasn't really altered over my career I've always managed to work things out. I've always managed to get by somehow, which is very fortunate to say, because more people are more technical than I. I'm very fortunate that it's more of an actual game that I play, and I've been fortunate that way.

Q. Have you found yourself successful at fixing yourself in the middle of a round?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think many of us are because I think to practice something new in competition is always a mistake. To practice in competition has never been the way I've always done it. You either bring your game to the venue or you don't. And to find it at the venue is very, very rare. I've never done that. And I've always tried to practice away from competition and bring it to it. I've always been a great advocate of that; it's a big error to practice in competition, and a lot of guys I've spoken to try that. Sometimes it works, obviously, but mostly it doesn't.

Q. Sometimes I would think you would lose your swing in the course of four days?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It depends on the week, really; wind alters that. Here in Southern California you don't tend to suffer the same way. But wind tends to affect your rhythm and tends to affect your timing and swing more than anything.

Q. (Inaudible.)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He says that a lot about me, yeah, we it was just my aim and where I was going and what I was doing on my backswing. No major changes, just a confidence boost, really.

Q. Is this the start of an extended stay in America?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, my next five tournaments are in America, actually. I've got this one; I go back home; I'm off to Dubai again to visit my course there next week and then I come back up for Bay Hill, TPC, Atlanta and The Masters. My next five tournaments are in the States. Yes, it's more extended. I look forward to that.

Q. We had 40 Americans in this field when it started in '99 and 11 Europeans. Now we're down to 25 Americans and 17 from Europe. I wonder if you could share your thoughts.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We're catching up. I think we had a particularly good year the last two years, especially, in Europe, where a lot of the young guys and a lot of guys that had potential have now come through. But it's one thing showing potential, but it's another thing proving it. And we've got a lot of guys that have come through into that top 64, if you like, and deservedly so. They've played very well worldwide and deserve the ranking points they've achieved and all the players deserve this spot here.

Q. When you look at emerging young talent, it seems you're looking everywhere else but America; do you notice that at all?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: People have noticed that, yeah, emerging young talent; I don't fall into that category, so I don't tend to spend much time on it. But there tends to be a lot of worldwide players coming through now, more than ever, international players coming through, young international players coming through. And since Tiger

Q. He's old now.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He's old, he's in his 30s, but there hasn't really been that progression that you might have thought after him here. And it seems to have taken place internationally more than it has here in the States.

Q. Any idea why?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No idea. You come in phases, you know. We once had the top six in the world were all European at one stage. And now we only have one in the top six. So it comes in phases, really. You'll probably find in the next ten years we'll have a bunch of young American kids coming through.

Q. They're all women.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, there's one woman, especially, yeah. But we'll see.

Q. I guess that's even more reason to keep playing these things all in America?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't know. It's where the money is; always go where the dollar sends us, takes us.

Q. What do you do when you're playing a slow player in match play? Do you have a different routine?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You mean my opponent?

Q. Inappropriately named.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay, one thing you don't do is you don't try and rush, okay? Unfortunately in golf, and it's wrong in many ways, but unfortunately you play to the slowest player in your group. And to try and rush him or rush the group through is always a problem for you. You tend to change your game to fit his, as opposed to the other way around. So it shouldn't be a problem. Match play generally there's no problem in match play; you tend to get on with it.

Q. Is hard to fight the temptation to say, "For God's sake, get a move on"?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not in match play. I know him quite well, so he's okay. Not one of the quickest out here.

Q. Have you played much with him?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't really, no. No. I went out to support him at the 2002 Ryder Cup there when he was up against Paul Azinger, and I finished my game earlier and I went out to try and help him through, walk a few sort of holes with him and that didn't help. Paul made an incredible birdie at the last out of the bunker and halved that game. But he's obviously a good player, good match player, works very hard at his game and will be a difficult opponent.

Q. Did you just watch him? You were with him on those holes?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was allowed in the ropes.

Q. Talking to him?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I wasn't allowed to talk to him. No, that was only the captain's job. But I was supporting him and showing that I was there.

Q. Have you ever played anyone who is quicker than you, pace wise?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Anyone that's quicker than me, no, no, I don't think so. I don't think is there anybody in the field? Probably John Daly. He usually hits the ball on the announcer's follow through. No, Woozy was quick, quick rhythm, quick player. But I'm usually as quick as anyone out there.

Q. Are there times when you think you should slow yourself down?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't. I'm quick for a reason. I go when I'm positive, and I'm usually quite positive, so I'll go.

Q. There are times, Colin, when you're not particularly positive on the course?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I try to be as much as possible. I try to be. Over the shot, when I'm ready to go, I'll go. I'm very much a believer in my first opinion; my first thought is right and I'll stick with it. If you start second guessing yourself, you get yourself in trouble. So when I make a decision, that's my decision, I'll go with it. I'd rather make that mistake in a positive way than I would make that same mistake in a negative way.

Q. Have you ever found yourself with someone quick and you thought it was to your benefit to maybe slow down a little bit?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I've never been that way, because I always seem to be the quickest off in that group. I've never had the problem of having to speed up or oh, my God, no.

Q. We saw it a little bit last week with Freddie and Rory Sabbatini; we noticed Fred at a turtle's pace, which is unusual for him.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Again, Freddie is a veteran pro, the same as myself, and you tend to have to play to the to your opponent's pace. Freddie did that with Rory, I saw that myself and witnessed that, and it is difficult to walk slower, to do everything at a slower pace. But you have to play to the slowest guy in your group or else it affects yourself.

Q. How many golf courses do you have, Colin Montgomerie golf courses?


Q. You have the one in Dubai?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I have about eight in operation now, and about another eight or so in the pipeline, if you like.

Q. Do you have one in China?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I do, indeed, Shanghai Special near Hong Kong. It's a booming market, China is, so I like leaving something there with my name attached.

Q. The up and coming European players you talked about, you see major winners amongst those, do you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, this major winners business is difficult to say, because Tiger takes two of them. So that only leaves two for everyone else. If you give one to Phil, Ernie and Vijay and Retief, that only leaves one, doesn't it? So there's only one left every year. And you talk about major winners, well, it's tough now, isn't it? If you look at it statistically, that's what should happen, what does happen.

So it's difficult. So you've only got one to go with. And so it's got to be your day, your time, your you've got to be at the right place at the right time and then get fortunate.

Q. The whole crop are capable?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There are a few that capable, yes, yes, that won't back away and won't feel that added pressure, whatever the case may be. There's 64 here, there's very few that can say, oh, well, he can't. Everyone is capable, especially in this list here. When you look at this list, yeah, very much so. But they've got limited opportunity because of who they're competing against.

Q. Have you been to Augusta or do you plan to go and look at the changes before the tournament?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no, I'll turn up on Monday after Atlanta and have a look then.

Q. What have you heard or what are your thoughts?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've heard dramatic changes yet again. But there's one thing in making it long; Augusta are pretty good, they don't use the same tees every day, they tend to mix it around. Talking about the 4th hole being 240 yards long, that should only be used when the pin is back left. So they tend to move it around a bit. So they're pretty good that way, Augusta. And, yes, it's difficult, but it's supposed to be difficult and should be difficult, and we all enjoy that, that difficulty.

Q. John Holmes, Bubba Watson, some of these kids we're seeing over here these days, do you feel like we're seeing a new era in pro golf; in other words is the threshold based now, instead of 310, is 330 going to be how far these kids hit the ball? Do you see any of that in Europe coming through the pipeline?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, there's one guy, there's a guy, Henrik Stenson, that hits the ball a long, long way, as long as they do, if not as far. And there is a new breed coming through. Very few young players coming through, as we talked about, hitting the ball 280 yards. They're all hitting it 300 plus. Whenever I have a runout when I get a runout of 300, I switch off. A runout for 330, these guys, they have to hit it left or right. And sometimes it causes a problem; you run out of room. There's very few straight holes. You run out of room. I tend to myself maneuver it more.

But there is a change, of course there is. These guys are hitting it further and further and further. It makes it interesting, but how many wins have they had? There's obviously another thought that says we've got to control our ball, as well. We've got to have control over that ball and how far it actually does go with a 7 iron. Can you hit a ball 168 yards exactly with a 7 iron? Coming down at that speed, that's my distance, coming down to that speed with a 9 iron is more there's more variation. So it has its pros and has its cons, as well.

Q. Are you happy, you feel like you only have ten years left against these kids or is it going to come down to golf where you still have to handle your nerves and hit that 9 iron 198?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There are courses that might favor that type of play, but there's enough courses out there that I tend to enjoy playing, the TPC course, for instance. We all think that's one of our best tests of golf and it's by far well, it's nowhere near the longest course out there. You've got to maneuver it, you have to find left to right, right to left, you've got challenging shots all over the place. You stand at 17th tee there with I've been there, level with two to go, and I tell you what, it doesn't matter if you've got a wedge or 9 or 8, whatever you've got in your hand, you're suffering (laughter). So it is it's amazing. So there's plenty of courses that I'm capable of doing well on.

Q. You said last year that you way surpassed him, with Tiger, what are your

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I said I want to be in the top 25 in 2005, and possibly in the top 10 at 2006, and that's still the goal. If I can hold position, if you like, I'd be delighted, and that means I've won three times, possibly, to hold position. I've done well, I have a lot of top 10s and held position. So that remains a goal. Just because I achieved it last year doesn't alter the goal for this.

Q. I was just curious on Augusta, Colin, when you first played there in the mid '90s, do you recall how you played No. 7?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it was a 3 wood, wedge.

Q. Can you imagine

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I can't imagine hitting a driver and 4 iron off a downslope into a green that's never been designed to accept a 4 iron. Remember, these greens were designed whereby technology, not just of clubs and everything, but technology of grass cutting and green speed and green hardness was never what it was in the '50s and '60s when that course was used, if you like. The firmness of the greens and the speed of the greens now, these greens were never designed for long irons coming off downslopes into these greens. So it makes it doubly difficult.

And again, I'm not saying that's bad; I'm just saying that it should be difficult, but it is very, very difficult, yeah, and that may be one of the hardest holes out there.

Q. How do you recall playing 1 when you first got there?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I used to try and sort of go around that bunker and get by the bunker. Now the bunker is in range. At least I can see the green. I can't see the green now, I don't think. If they stay where the 1st tee is now, I'm right down in the bottom of the hill.

Q. (Inaudible.)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you very much. But nearer him than where I was before.

Q. Just because they moved the tee is what I meant.


Q. The Riviera, they talked about the antagonistic crowd and rooting for Freddie in the match there. Obviously this is match play here and there's going to be rooting against one or the other. How do you handle that and make something like that like if they're antagonistic or rooting against you, how do you make that work for you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You haven't been at Ryder Cup, have you?

Q. No, I haven't, actually.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't think Freddie is a crowd favorite. Freddie is different. Freddie is a favorite with everybody, right? So Freddie gets support wherever he is, especially having he just lives an hour away from Riviera. So Freddie is a crowd favorite whoever he might play against or with.

I don't think you'll find antagonistic behavior out here. I think people come here to see close games, I suppose, good golf. And we all know each other, we all travel the world together now, the top sort of 50 players, if you like, and we all play the same events, we all know each other very well. There's no antagonism between ourselves, and hopefully the fans will accept that.

Q. You don't think you'll get a rough ride from the Swedish fans tomorrow?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't. I do hope not.

Q. Go back to Augusta one more time. How would you rank it, any anecdotes from you, trying to fit a shot in there?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's funny you say Augusta. To me the best holes on the course, the shorter ones, they haven't changed. The third, for instance. You put that pin front left on that third hole, and I tell you what, you hit your wedge shot in there and you go get up, get down thank God. All that emotion, roller coaster emotion when the ball is in the air, but it's only a wedge.

The 12th hole is probably the best short hole that we have anywhere in world golf, and they haven't changed that, either.

Interesting that these particular holes stand out to us still, that they're great, great, great holes. The 12th hole is only an 8 iron. But you hit it in the air and you're just not sure, either.

17th at TPC, that will always remain a fabulous golf hole at the wrong time in a round. Fantastic, the hole.

Q. The second shot into 3, just take me through that.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it depends where your drive is. It's very important with the drive, where your drive is. There's a mound, and you've got to I always try to lay back so you're on the upslope. You'd never want to go too far there to get on the slight downslope to get too close to the green. One, you have less control; two, it's not a full shot; and three you're on a downslope and in a tight lie. I always try to lay back with an a 2 iron or 5 wood and go in with a longer club so I have more control on the upslope, so there's more spin on the ball. Some people try and drive the thing, you know. But that's fraught with danger, as well. So it's nice to have options.

Q. I have one more question about your golf courses. Do you have a philosophy that you approach them with or do you go with the nature itself with the golf courses you design?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, there's a definite philosophy that I use; I tend to it's difficult sometimes with the land given you. But for instance, Dubai, you've got a flat 300 acre piece of desert. Fabulous there. You can do anything, really.

Q. And you have (laughter)?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: And I have, yes. No comment.

But, yeah, you can do a lot with a flat piece of land. Other areas of land you have to use more imagination, I suppose. And then also some piece of land you can't touch; some you can. You've got to be environmentally friendly to wildlife and all other sorts of things that come into it. There's a lot into it than just making a particular style of course that the terrain has a huge influence as to what we start with. But generally I like bunkers as hazards. I get really fed up with going where people, opponents of mine go into a bunker and play a wood out of them. That's never been a hazard in my book.

If you come to my course in Ireland, there's a place outside Dublin that we play the Nissan Irish Open on, actually. If you want to see a bunker, there's a bunker for you, there. There's a hazard. And I don't apologize for the fact that they are hazards. If you go into them, it's a half shot penalty. And that's what the bunker should be, is a hazard. There's a few, but I can't go into it right now; it would take too long.

End of FastScripts.

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