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June 15, 2006

Colin Montgomerie


RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Colin Montgomerie to the interview area with a round of 1 under par 69 this morning. Maybe you can start us off with some general comments about your round.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, obviously delighted that I'm actually here on Thursdays instead of I usually come in here Tuesday and Wednesday and you want to talk to me and then I never see you again (laughter). It's actually quite nice I'm here on a proper day. It's big, isn't it, since '97, since I contended.

No, delighted. Obviously 69 is a good score under any circumstances. It's a good thing, being 2 over after 3. I was practicing well and gave me some confidence, didn't bother playing yesterday because I felt quite confident about things, and that was wise. I came out this morning and was 2 over after 3 and thought it wasn't too clever (laughter), but by the end of the day it was all right; I played well.

RAND JERRIS: We've heard some comments about the players about the difficulty of the golf course. Did it play as difficult as you expected it to?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's going to be difficult when you've got the world's best players and there's only one guy under par finished, that's got to be difficult, and it was today.

The greens are drying out considerably, and it's difficulty to get the ball close to the hole. The greens are very tricky, and the fairways are narrow. You add all that in, with a 15 mile and hour wind gusting, it's very, very difficult, yeah.

Q. Good round, by the way. Normally, like you said, you've come in a lot of times pre tournament. This year it's almost like you're under a low profile. Can that be advantageous to a player in certain respects?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it can. You know, I think the expectation of me in the '90s to win this thing was very high, and I gave it a go a couple times and was not quite close. I think the expectation was lower this particular year or the last few years that I haven't contended, and it does make a difference where you are more relaxed. It won't change me, my life or whatever if I do very well here this week, but it might have done in the '90s. So that was more expectation and pressure on me then than there is now. It's nice, I can go out and sort of free wheel if you like and not worry about things the way I used to do in the '90s.

Q. Do you still feel like you can win, obviously you wouldn't be here?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If I didn't think I could win I wouldn't have bothered flying over here. It's quite a long way (laughter).

Q. Last year at St. Andrews, you had a very good experience, and how important was that experience after a pretty tough spell for you this week? I mean, how much can you draw on that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's nice to have contended last year at St. Andrews. It was an amazing crowd reaction, and the warmth of the crowd was fantastic for me, and it's nice to contend with Tiger on a course that was built for him 200 years before he was born (laughter).

I think it was good for me to feel that I could still compete at that level because it had been a few years where I hadn't really, so it gives me confidence to come back here again and to compete again, and it's nice to say that.

Q. Was the par save on 5 a turn point?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, quite true. There was three par saves, but the one on 5 to avoid going to 3 over would have been difficult to come back from. So that par at 5 and then a ten footer for par and then to birdie the 6th got me back into things again. I did feel like I was playing the back nine, two birdies and seven pars was the way I used to play these types of courses, and I felt very comfortable on the 18th tee, a very narrow fairway, and going the wrong way for me because I tend to move the ball right to left, and it goes the wrong way and I managed to hit that fairway well and a 9 iron to about five foot and an awful putt.

This course tends to be set up more for the driving and the iron play than it does for the putting, and that's in my favor. Some weeks it's a putting competition, and I'm not going to win that. But I have a chance on a course that's set up this particular way, yeah.

Q. In what ways are you different as a player than the player who chased to the wire in '97?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay, good question. I think I'm more relaxed now. I think I wanted it a little bit too much then, and if you want something, sometimes it doesn't quite come to you. From a few years back, I've become more relaxed, and I think that possibly I wouldn't have made par at the last, never mind had a chance at birdie knowing I was leading coming up the last hole. So that was key to me, that I could swing freely and hit the fairway and hit to the green to five feet having just found the lead after holing a putt at 17.

I think I'm as David was saying, I felt swinging the club the way I did in the '90s, but I'm more relaxed on the course than I ever was before.

Q. You were looking for a putting stroke coming here this week. That may have been the one thing that was holding you back this season. Did you find it because your stats suggested you putted okay?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I putted safe. I wouldn't suggest I putted well, but I didn't do anything silly. But this course isn't about putting this week, really. And that's to my advantage. This course is about finding the greens in regulation, and I've always been pretty good at that.

If I can putt safely, I have a chance.

Q. You say you wanted it more previously, but would it still mean as much to you now?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yes. To do well here, never mind talking about winning or whatever the case may be, it's only one round. My God, we've only walked seven miles, we've got 21 miles to walk yet. There's a long way to go. But yes, it would mean as much to me, of course it would, now, probably more now in that way looking back on it now to do it at 42 years old than it was at 32. You know, big difference.

Q. Is your old distance control back? It would seem to be with the irons.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. From the fairway. The only reason you can have distance control control with the iron shots is from the fairway. You have no chance here from the rough, so it's key that I remain hitting the fairways from tomorrow, 1:00 on wards if you like. Yes, I can feel the distance with my iron shots as well as anyone, provided that I'm on the fairway.

Q. At what point in your round did the wind sort of come into play?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it was always quite breezy early on, but the back nine especially started to gust a little bit, and it makes it a lot more tricky when you're not sure where the wind or how strong the wind is. It makes it much more difficult.

Q. A couple years ago one of the magazines on this side of the ocean embarked on a be nice to Monty campaign.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it was super, after Bethpage Black.

Q. Are people being nice to Monty?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it was fine. I had a lot of support. We had a nice group, as well, John Cook and David Duval. We had a good group today, and there was no troubles or problems or whatever the case may be. I didn't need my Golf Digest badge, thank goodness. They made 25,000 of them. I don't know why they made so many (laughter). I think they gave me all the spares, and I think there's only two short (laughter).

Q. You've mentioned a couple times how relaxed you are, and I think we can all tell how relaxed you are out there. Is there any reason for that, maybe something you've discovered?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not really, just coming towards the end of well, not towards the end, but I've got sort of four or five years left at this thing, and I've felt that I haven't won I think I put too much pressure on myself through this sort of '95 through '99 2000 to win one of these things, and it wasn't working, and I didn't win because of that possibly. A few of you thought I might have or should have won, but it's not easy. If it was that easy, we'd all be doing it.

We just have to be patient and relax and try a new method, and this is it, so we'll see how we go.

Q. Can you talk about your preparation for this tournament? Did you do anything differently this time than other majors?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not really, no. I tend to play to come over here to the States, I fly in Monday and then we play Tuesday, Wednesday, but I played so well Tuesday that I didn't bother playing yesterday. I just putted, chipped a little bit and went off. You can leave some good shots on the golf course, so I didn't bother doing that yesterday and relaxed. So that's what I've been doing in majors now. I know my way around, I know what to do. You know where to hit on this course. It's right in front of you, this course. The layout is so good that you know what to do. You have to hit fairways. It doesn't matter how many practice rounds you play, you still have to stand up there and hit it. I decided to do that, and it paid off today.

Q. The saves out of the bunker on 10 and 13, were they kind of routine or really hold things together.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The one on 10 was a good one because I hit a 6 iron right of the pin and it was awful. To short side oneself there was awful, but I hit a fantastic bunker shot there to a foot. But the one on 13 wasn't actually in the bunker, it was just to the right of the green, but that was a good up and down to keep the momentum going, if you like. No, sorry, 13 was in the bunker, you're right. 14 was just on the right. Yeah, 13 was a good shot because it was on a downslope. It was actually very good, now that I think about it (laughter).

Q. You also had a great first round at Harding Park in San Francisco on a course that was also set up for accuracy, not as extreme as this. Are there parallels in the setup, and what did you get out of that tournament contending with Tiger and Daly and in America where you haven't always played your best, but you obviously had a good tournament that week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I came in having won the Dunhill Links championship the week before so I was obviously confident and came in and shot 64 the first day, and it was fine. I had one practice round there, as well. I enjoyed competing with Tiger, again, a few months after I had done it at the British Open there. So yeah, fine. It'll be interesting to see how he does this afternoon. We'll see, but I've got a job to do tomorrow afternoon, and it's going to be difficult tomorrow afternoon, I know that. I've got to hit fairways, and that's key. I'll go to the range this afternoon and keep the rhythm that I've found. I've got my rhythm back again. My whole swing always was all about rhythm, and I've got that back again now, and we'll see how it goes.

Q. You said that this type of course suits your general style of play. Are there any spots out there that are really in your wheel house where you can attack and are there any spots where you might have to hit a draw or something that is a little different than what you normally like to do?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, there's one particular tee shot that doesn't favor me, which is the last hole. That requires a draw, and I don't usually draw the ball. But any pin that's positioned on the right hand side has more of a green light towards it than the one on the left. I've never really been very good at getting close to the ones on the left of the green. But if the USGA I'm asking you now, if you put the pins to the right, there's more of a chance for me. They won't now, but I thought I'd ask.

Q. Since you're in such a good mood, for those of us that don't work for the London tabs, how has your social life been going and bachelorhood and all that stuff? I figured I might as well ask, so that way we don't have to guess or make it up.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Two of them have left, so it's all right now (laughter). You can ask that question. You're not getting an answer, but you can ask the question. Socially I'm very happy, okay?

RAND JERRIS: Colin, congratulations on your fine play today. Thank you for your time.

End of FastScripts.

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