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July 12, 2006

Colin Montgomerie


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Colin, thanks for joining us. A big fortnight ahead for you, start us off with your thoughts on this week.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, sure. Yes, as you say a big two weeks coming here to Loch Lomond, coming to Scotland, and next week, at Hoylake, isn't that far away. I look forward to both tournaments and especially this one to start with. We must not forget why we're here, and I'm here to try to win this tournament again. I did so in '99 and would love to go to The Open on the back of real confidence. I'm confident anyway, but to add to that would be great by trying to win here.

It's a very strong field this year assembled which is great for the tournament. There's a lot of Ryder Cup potential players playing here, and everybody seems to be wanting to compete. And it's nice to see Ernie Els and Retief and Freddie Couples playing and nice to get Garcia back again. So all on for a good week for us and hopefully a lot to write about.

Q. Cast your mind back to last year, is there a difference in your confidence now compared to last year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think finishing second, it was that what really changed my season around last year if you like, on Saturday with Tiger, playing with him. That was most important for me and showed me that I belong and gave me my self belief back again and it was nice when it comes right again and gives me the belief and that's all I needed. If I believe I'm going to do something, I'm halfway there, so that's what it was really. It wasn't the Sunday; it was the Saturday that gave me the belief that I can do this again.

Q. When you were a bit younger, you had so many tournaments in Ireland and Scotland leading up to The Open, do you feel that you can manage it a lot better now that you are older?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so. I think there's expectation on me and I think it's good for The Open, anyway. This year might be slightly different but in the last year there's been expectation; I guess the Scottish and Irish Open, I used to win one of them. I had three Irish Opens and a Scottish Open, and it was draining before The Open. Expectation grew before The Open and I didn't really my record in the 90s was not as good as it should have been.

Now, I think having matured and understood all that, I can go to The Open, I used to go on Monday and practice and Tuesday and Wednesday and leave all my good shots out there. Now I have one practice round on The Open and I'll do that Tuesday evening. It truly worked at St. Andrews, and I'll do it at Hoylake, start at 17:00 and finish about 22:00. It's great. It's fantastic and I enjoy it. I think I've learned that, anyway.

Q. How have you prepared for The Open this year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've been there twice. I went there on my own and also an R&A day there. I've played the course twice so, that's good already, I know what to expect already. I'll play once on Tuesday and if that goes well, I don't bother playing on Wednesday.

I think it's a good course. It's certainly a different course than when we last played 39 years ago in 1967, I believe, that was the last time it was played there. It's a good, demanding test of golf and will be. I know the pin positions are different than they used to be. They used to be all on the middle of the greens and now they are in the corners of them. The course is set up fantastic. All it needs are for the greens to be cut and it will be ready for The Open. Ideal conditions. Just the little bit of rain we've had over the last three years, three weeks if you like, it should be good.

Q. What do you make of the preparation that the likes of Phil Mickleson put into it - almost scouting the pace out?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I believe Phil has been over, hasn't he? He came over early on. People are different, have different ways of doing things. I was a bit concerned coming back from the U.S. Open, I was awfully tired, and then the Pro Am at the Gleneagles tournament was four holes. It was actually called off on a midsummer's day due to high winds and rain. They said they would play one day in summer but they didn't quite get that far! I thought, "oh, I haven't even had a practice round," and then shot two 68s and I was leading at halfway.

So it doesn't seem to affect me. Other people sometimes need five or six practice rounds, the Langers, Mickelsons, Faldo I suppose, that type of player. I'm very different. Once I play around there once, I know where not to go, and I'll find my way around. There's no there will be no worries there. People have different views. Yes, Phil Mickelson takes two weeks beforehand and a week afterwards to sort of get over the Major type of thing. I don't. I can play out and play through it. It takes all types.

Q. You played very well last week in severe winds?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I had a great chance of winning last week, a great chance of winning. I birdied the first and the third there the last day and got to 6 under, and when the leader dropped a shot on the first hole I was two behind and with 15 holes to go, I had a great chance and just couldn't hole a putt. I finished with 11 pars in a row and I had 11 chances for birdie and I didn't hole one.

So disappointing, really, to finish where I did. It was all bunched up and I could have easily come out of that pack and won that tournament last week.

There's nothing wrong with the game. It's just a matter of the odd putt going in at the right time, and that will be the same case here no doubt.

Q. Can you cast your mind back to the practice rounds at Hoylake - was there much wind, were you in any bunkers and can you reach all the par fives in two?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I can reach the par 5s, I'm okay there. I did on that day when the wind was blowing, but it was only blowing ten or 15 mile an hour. Let's hope the weather is good. Let's hope that it will be very, very dry and a little bit of breeze and a good links test as we had last year at St. Andrews. It was breezy enough, but it wasn't it never got windy, you know, which that's ideal. That's what we want.

And if there's a question about the bunkers, yes, of course you get into the odd bunker and around links course, you have to be able to get out. That's one thing I do in practice rounds and competitions is I make sure I get out. If I'm ever in there thinking I can get out with a 7, but it should be an 8, I'll get a 9. So, okay, because that is No. 1, No. 1 no go is leave it where you are. That is a disaster. If it hits the lip and bounces back and hits your foot, then you really are in trouble. So in the bunker, unfortunately, we know is the difficulty. It's you get out and you start again and half a shot penalty.

Q. I have to be careful how I phrase this�

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That was very well phrased. (Laughter) Going well so far. (Laughter) But we haven't finished yet, have we? Go ahead, the hard part.

Q. Given your increasing celebrity status, what impact is that having on your golf and life in general?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very good. That was very well out of that hole you were digging yourself.

Fine. I think after the U.S. Open and after Wimbledon, tend to get recognized a little bit more, but that's fine. I was always tending to do that anyway around my home where I live and everything. It's fine. It has not impacted on my golf at all. In fact, it's made me more relaxed possibly and therefore, if I'm relaxed, I generally play better.

So has it impacted my golf? I think it's actually helped. I know if I'm uptight, I won't play as much as I play as well as I can. I don't think anyone does. But if I'm relaxed, which I am right now, I think I'm okay, yeah. So it has not impacted at all on way do for a living, no.

Q. Is this the best shape you have ever been in approaching an Open - golf-wise, confidence-wise and celebrity status wise?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I came in 1999 I think it was. It was the year that I had finished I think third or something in the Irish Open and I won here. I won here well on a season day and if someone said a Scotsman is going to win The Open in '99 I would have said thank you very much. But you know Paul Lawrie won The Open in '99, and all credit to him. I finished about 12th I think.

But that was the year that I was probably playing as well as any. I had won an event, the PGA, I was winning on a regular basis and I really fancied my chances and I missed it in '99.

This is the second best I've played coming into an Open.

Q. How important was what happened to Paul McGinley last week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, very important. The K Club, checking out, his bags I believe had gone back to London or something crazy, or they were on their way. And he thought he had missed the cut, and then to finish, I don't know where he did fourth or fifth or fourth, was an amazing achievement and all credit to him. The backing of the Irish fans were tremendous. He was playing ahead of me on Sunday and he knew exactly what was going on and he finished strongly. And all credit to him. It's given him a bit of a boost.

I think it is a struggle for him because of the fact that it is in Ireland and it means so much to him to make the team. I would feel the same pressure if the Ryder Cup were in Scotland, and he does in Ireland. It means an awful lot to him to get on that team and I'm glad that he has now hopefully got a bit of confidence going again take do it, and hopefully in the next seven weeks, he can earn enough to not be overtaken or whatever to stay in that position he's in right now. I think he would be a great benefit to the team as he has been over the last two Ryder Cups.

Q. Do you feel this will have been the turning point for him?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so, yes. You think you're going to miss the cut is a huge difference from finishing fourth, massive. That was a great achievement to come from the cut line to finish fourth, massive for him.

Q. You were talking about a Scotsman winning The Open. There are only four Scots currently in The Open, do you know what's going wrong in Scottish golf?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Interesting you say that. We don't have any qualifiers and you say the other three are there because of previous rankings if you like.

I don't know what, if you can put a handle on it what's wrong with Scottish golf. We need to have more. I've been the only Ryder Cup player for a while now, Scot, and we need more. We used to have a few with the Torrances and Lyles, and we need more. Every country can't have three or four Ryder Cup players; we only have 12 in the Team. You have to be realistic. But at the same time, we should have, with the tradition of golf in Scotland, we should have more than the one. And I don't know why. Hopefully it's just a thing that we're going through a spell that we'll come out of in a few years time.

Q. Do you think we are investing enough in it?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, this is the next thing. Are we doing this, are we not doing this, or what are we doing? I haven't actually looked at it closely enough to find out why, and I have to sit down and look at rankings and look at what people are doing, what people are doing on the Challenge Tour, what they are doing on the Europro Tour, the top amateurs, why aren't they coming through. We have got good amateurs but they don't seem to be coming through as a pro.

It sometimes isn't as easy as people think it is to come through. I've found it quite daunting when I started as a pro, and I think it takes a bit of time and it just would take a couple of years to see if the talent will come through. Without looking at it objectively in a facts and figures way, I can't really answer that, you know.

Q. Were you surprised that so few of the American Ryder Cup Team came to The K Club last week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yeah. I wouldn't say that it was a big thing I think to play the golf course. A lot of them are trying to gain as many points as possible. There's five rookies on that American team as we know and I don't think many of them have traveled outside the U.S., if at all. I think they are all going to play in The Open, possibly, a number of them for the first time.

Q. I think they are in Ireland this week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Are they? That will be fine for them and that will be good for them, and they will get an idea of what it's all about when they come over for The Open. I can't really speak for them. I'm just glad that a great majority of our team will have played there, and to stay in the hotel even, to get a feel for that before September arrives. Because it will hit the rookies on that team come September what it's all about. It will be a big, big event, huge event, much bigger than we anticipate it's going to be.

Q. Is golf the sort of sport were you expect to be in a Major or expect to?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. Hope to. Hope to. I think expecting to be in contention is a bit of a dangerous thing. Hope to. You know, a bounce of the ball, lip-out, lip in, whatever, or a draw, when the draw comes out. It might be windy in the morning and could calm down until the evening or vice versa. Hope to. Expect to is dangerous in golf. I never expect to do anything in golf. The last time I expected to do something was God knows when. Probably in one of these Ryder Cup singles thing, oh, tick that box, it's Monty's box, tick that one. My God, thank you very much, that's difficult, very difficult when you're expected. It's always harder when you're expected to do something that you're going to achieve it than just by hoping.

Q. How much are you still reflecting on Winged Foot?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't thought of it much since I have been sitting here. I'll only stop thinking about it if I win one.

Q. When did you think you could win it?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I expect to win on the 18th fairway, yes, I should hope. (Laughing) When I've hit the fairway, I've done the hard thing. My iron play over the years is when I hit the fairway and stood there with a 7 iron in my hand and hit on the right side of the green, it's perfect, lay it up there perfectly, just didn't hit the shot I wanted to. But I had done everything I had to do. Yeah, I should have holed it.

Q. Will you use it as extra motivation?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I have, yes.

Q. Have you spoken to Hugh about it?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. I can't really say what he said to me but we have had a chat about it, yes. You can only do two things from that. You either don't want to learn from it or you do. And hopefully we're going to learn from it.

Q. Have your conversations with him helped you see it in a new light?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wouldn't say a new light, no, I wouldn't say a new light. There were circumstances around that came into the equation that he never even knew was going on. So there's all sorts of different connotations to the whole thing. It just wasn't a 7 iron to the green. There was a lot more involved in that, and we've been through it all, and hopefully if that occasion happens again in the into not too distant future, I will be able to cope in a different way.

Q. Was Vijay's ruling a factor?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's a definite backing. Definite, yes. That's one of the outside influences that you cannot control. Vijay was having a ruling and it was taking quite a while, and I'm convinced that if I was to go up to that ball and go up to it at any usual pace and hit it, I'd have probably won. But you have to play according to your playing partner and the rules. And if I was in the tent, he would have had to wait on me as well. Unfortunately, I had a long time to wait. It's amazing what runs through your little mind at that stage. So, yeah, you have to play according to what's going on.

Q. Did you have a speech prepared?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not in America, no. I'd have just said thanks and gone home. (Laughing.)

Q. People always said that your Ryder Cup performances made up for you not having won a Major. Did you ever accept that and has that changed?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wouldn't say the Ryder Cup is a substitute. I think they are bonuses, the Majors, Ryder Cup and Order of Merit in my career. I've got two of them and it's the Major thing that's eluded me to this stage. I'd just say it was a bonus as opposed to something that was missing. The Ryder Cup has been a bonus in my career. So have the Order of Merits. I wouldn't give any of them back again and I won't give any of them away for a Major, not one.

Q. Has there been a point when you have ever given up hope of winning a Major?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no, no. I think '95 was the best opportunity. But I suppose that no, you don't. You never give up. If I'd given up, I wouldn't have entered. I kept thinking this is the time and it's nice that the last two Open Championships, I've finished runner up, and it gives me something to work on to work towards this one, I suppose, and I look forward to it.

I've got this links golf down now where I actually enjoy it, which is great for me to actually go out and participate and enjoy a round of golf. To come back to St. Andrews and win the dunhill links was great for me. I look forward to enjoying myself next week, and if I enjoy myself, I usually play well.

Q. Did you go from a 6 to a 7 iron quickly at Winged Foot?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I had a 6 iron in my hand. I had a 6 iron in my hand for about a minute. And then the wind sort of died down slightly and I felt that the ball does go a bit further. The ball was going a long way that day and I decided to hit a 7 iron. I'd hit exactly the same club again. I changed my club once in Dubai in 1996, I had a 6 iron in my hand and changed it to a driver and hit it over the lake.

So I've done it; I've changed clubs before without much ado. Always have a chat with Alex before I pick another club out of the bag and we decided that was the club to hit, and we would do it again under those circumstances. But adrenaline tends to give me about ten more yards and I hit my 7 iron about 164 or something, and this was 172, so it came a perfect 7 iron. I just miss-hit it.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Colin, thanks for coming in and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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