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October 4, 2006

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and thanks for your attendance today. Before we hear Colin's expansive comments on the Alfred Dunhill Links and his defence, we're going to talk first and foremost about his expanding portfolio in golf course design. We have on the top table with me and I'll just introduce them now, on the far left is Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design, next to Robin is Michael Braidwood, who is the general manager of Riffa Golf Club in Bahrain, next to me is Richard Browning the CEO of Riffa Golf & Residential Company in Bahrain. And to kick us off, I think Richard is going to say a few words about this latest project.

RICHARD BROWNING: Thank you very much. Welcome, thank you very much, Robin, Michael and of course, Colin. Rather than say something off the cuff, Guy wanted me to read, in case I say something he didn't like, so I'll just say a few words. First, congratulations to Colin and his team to their success in the Ryder Cup. No thanks for keeping us on the edge of our seats to the last putt to drop to win that game.

I know you gentlemen would prefer to hear from Colin and ask him all sorts of questions, but if you'll bear with me just a minute, I'd like to say a few boards with Riffa. Essentially it's a golf course and real estate development. Real estate development is really about one thing, and that's selling property. The introduction of a golf course on a residential estate, or the other way around, created green open spaces living environment and high property values. Since then the market has become more educated in golf real estate product and demands more. This in Bahrain being a pioneer project it is the only green course in Bahrain at the moment. We have two problems. First, this demand for more, and secondly the naivety of the Middle East market to golf as a sport and as a life style; as a lack of education, it's not their first sport. Many developers worldwide are adding window dressing to their projects in an attempt to add value and the use of a signature design around the golf has been used for this purpose. We believe that the market requires more substance, and development and substance can be provided many ways. We could add a sumo wrestler to our team; that would certainly add substance, but we are talking about integrity, depth and knowledge of experience and quality in every component and sustainability. Sustainability becomes one of most important factors in an educated market.

A long story, and I'm sorry for that, but it is for this reason that we've selected Colin to design our course. We believe that he is the right person to add a character and a soul to our development. We are introducing a par 3 course, as well as the full Monty 18, and this will receive the same strategic approach and design flare. It is providing a starter facility to the women and children of the household who are the real house buying decision makers, and this will add value to the development as a complete lifestyle package, as well as an education about golf, which I know that golf is all for, too, the education.

Colin's character and classic design approach will provide a depth and substance that we require and provides sustainable integration between the golf course operation and the homeowners. This, together with Colin's ability and desire to communicate with the owners during the construction process, will complete this integrated process. We look forward to working with Colin and his team over the next 18 months in achieving our goal. Thank you very much.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much, Richard. And Colin, you may like to say a few words about the project.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Obviously on behalf of Richard as well I'm delighted to be associated with Riffa use here and in Bahrain, another project for me and Robin here at European Golf Design. I'm very excited about the prospect of having another course that carries my name and another good one, a very, very good one.

This will be a first class project, knowing what's happening in the Middle East, the competition is good, and we have to go along and have our own challenges to make this better than the competition is. But we will get there. We are looking for an opening of this course hopefully, we're quite tight in the 2008 barrier, and of course for your sake, we're looking for tournament play on this particular course.

You know as well as I do, there's three tournaments out in Middle East right now and we're looking to expand that as part of The European Tour to have us play golf and give the opportunity to our members as much as possible in the early season. This course can only aid that opportunity for our members to play tournament play out in the Middle East. So I'm obviously thrilled to be associated with this project.

Q. (Do you anticipate a European Tour event being played on this course?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I can't anticipate. I hope. And we do hope for tournament play here, of course we do. Why not have a four week run in the Middle East, as opposed to a three week run at start of the year, you know, and this is what we're aiming toward.

Q. (Do you know how many courses are under construction now?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not at all. (Laughter).

GORDON SIMPSON: I'll bet you know.


Q. How many are there?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's about, right now, I think there is 11 playing, and there must be with this introduction here, there must be a dozen under construction.

Q. Do all of them feature left to right tee shots?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wish they did. Wind plays a big part unfortunately. I see holes that way, yes, but of course you can't go around left to right; you'd end up in a circles, so you can't really do that. So you have to have the odd right to left unfortunately. But there are people that draw the ball.

I've played enough bad courses and enough bad, bad holes to know what's good, and I could enjoy leaving something that's out there for people to play, not just next year, not just five years, but many years down the road. And I enjoy this and it's really adding something to my life away from having to play tournament golf all the time.

Q. (When will the one here open?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The start of 2008. So we're looking for an opening roundabout May of Rowallan, and I look forward that as well, being the first at home in Scotland.

Q. (Do you hope to have a tournament at Rowallan?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You hope for these things. I can't have tournaments on every course. There's only 52 weeks of the year. (Laughing).

But we look forward to having competitions there or whatever people anticipate happening there, yeah.

Q. When will the course be ready to play?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We are hoping, correct me if I'm wrong, beginning of 2008, but hopefully we're looking for European tournaments the start of 2009.

Q. Certainly Colin when you talk about leaving a legacy how much extra room have you left for expanding technology?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Always. You have to. But I'm a great advocate that we've almost got to the stage now where we have to start thinking about, hang on, we can't keep building, building new tees. They are even talking about here at the 17th, I believe, extending 17 over the old railway that used to run on the right of 16 here.

They have expanded this course but now it's about time I think, and I'm not alone in this view, that we have to start cutting back on what we've got. The driver is 460 CCs, the ball is now the velocity that we have, and we have to start coming back on it, or else we are going to run out of room worldwide. We can't keep expanding golf courses. We can't keep building 8,000 , 9,000 yard golf courses.

Q. In terms of the layout, will you leave 30 yards behind the tee?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's always room available. There's always room available, and as there was here, you can find room where. Wentworth's done it. Here has done it. If St. Andrews can do it, if The Masters can do it any time, any course, we can find room anywhere.

Bahrain as you know, land and well, we have the room, we have the room. But I would rather do something about the ball technology and the club technology other than having to find new land, because new land is very expensive to find.

Q. Did you play this Carnoustie?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't played this morning.

Q. So haven't seen the changes

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, God, there aren't any, are there? I hear it's in great condition. It's in fabulous condition and we look forward to going back there for the Open next year.

But no, I've had a very busy time and I haven't actually practised. I played a few holes here for the practise round. I played 2, 3, 16, 17, 18 here at St. Andrews and got a feeling of what I'm doing.

Q. Is the course soft?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is quite soft here, yeah. The ball is spinning back on the greens. It's as soft as I've ever seen it and as green as I've ever seen it. I think all three courses are playing quite soft. That's where I think you'll find scoring a little bit better than it would be normally with softer courses, the scoring tends to be better.

GORDON SIMPSON: Coming back here, this was an emotional one a few win 12 months ago and teed you up for the Order of Merit.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It was an emotional win, it was my first win for a while and it was an emotional win to start five behind and win. There's always a good result. I really enjoyed the end of last year, going down to Valderrama and doing well there and the week after at the American Express in San Francisco and doing well and winning in Hong Kong. It was a great end to last year and I look forward to trying to do something similar this year.

Q. A lot of players

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did. I've had my difficulties here.

Q. How many rounds have you played here?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it wasn't five rounds, I can assure you in the old Dunhill Cup. We always lost! All the Chinese, the Indians you'll have to remind me. (Laughter).

But no, I think the Open, I think changed things in 2005, that I got to a stage of learning how to play away from certain pin positions and not attacking certain pin positions that are out there, and learning to be patient I think. This is probably a course where you have to use as much patience as possible on any golf course. I think this is the ultimate one. I will on Friday when I come to play here again, get the patience hat on and kick up duties when they come but don't force it. I think people have forced it around here trying to make birdies, will make bogeys. Easy enough to make pars if you play away from the pins and 2 putt.

But if you go for the pin, I've found that it's very, very dangerous and people do and people will. I know my way around here now.

In 2005, I don't know, very few Dunhill Cup rounds because the team, we lost. I don't know, God, what, a hundred would be a lot, wouldn't it, four times 20 no, not even a hundred, no. 50, 50 rounds, that's a lot.

Q. (Length of rounds here?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Just the time it takes, that's all, it's the time it takes. And I think Johan Rupert is very strong. He's always spoken about the timing of this event, about how long it takes and it takes too long, or it has done in the past. If amateurs are out at the hole or can't beat the pro on certain holes, he's an advocate of picking the ball up and keeping play moving. And is it doesn't always happen and should, you know. The Classic (Bob Hope) is a six hour round and it shouldn't be. We should be able to get around in five hours no problem at all.

Q. Last year you

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I did, yeah.

Q. (Your form now compared to last year?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I suppose I come in the same sort of form I was last year, a little bit indifferent. I wouldn't say it's great. I'm putting better, which is always key around these courses. You need to putt well. The greens are about that large.

So I'm putting much better and I just look forward to being defending champion, if you like. It's always nice to come back to somewhere that you've won, and always nice here when you've won. There's no better place for a Scotsman to hole a putt on last green on St. Andrews I must admit.

Q. That feeling walking up 18 knowing that you have a putt to win

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I wish I was different. I was tied after 17, so it was I didn't enjoy that feeling. You don't enjoy being level with a hole to go. But I managed to play the hole properly. I went left and managed to 2 putt up the green and unfortunately Kenny Ferrie went right and that was a no go area.

So I tried to use the contours and use what I was going and played it properly and won. But very tight, very tight. I thought there was another playoff coming and my playoff record is terrible. So I was hoping not to have that.

Q. Given you seem to be more relaxed, is this a different attitude about the game and the course?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it's one percent, yeah, possibly.

Q. That much?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That much. Possibly, yeah, yeah. I do tend to be enjoying a little bit more than I have, and integrate with the crowds more than I have before, and I look forward to continuing that.

Q. (European players playing more in America next year?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, this FedExCup thing is a big deal in America right now and we have to counteract that in Europe and I think we've got a good schedule ourselves. We have to look after our own ship. We can only control what we do in Europe and that was mentioned. If we control what we do and put out good tournaments, good tournament venues with good prize money, European players will stay and play here.

But we can't stop. We're all self employed, we have the opportunity of going wherever we have to go to play golf, and if people want to go across the states, you know, we can't stop that. All we can do is give them a better product here in Europe to help them play here. And I believe we're doing that more.

Q. The Ryder Cup

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That doesn't help at all, no.

Q. (Strength and depth of the European Ryder Cup Team?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, of course it does. We are competitive. We have a fantastic team now and over the last years, and how young a team it is, apart from myself, we'll continue to do well. Now, whether these players want to play in America or not, it's fine, but our tour our tour is strong enough now to sustain people going to the States if they really feel they have to.

Q. Following on the strength and depth that's coming through, when you see Paul Casey and David Howell vying for winning the Order of Merit, what are your sort of overriding thoughts about that in the sense that it's a kind of a generational change?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it is. There's two guys, I think David's just turned 30 and Paul is still in his 20s, I believe, and it's a very big, big change. I'm 43. It's fabulous to see that our youth are coming up, as opposed to the American youth that Tiger was the youngest player on their team at 30. I think we had four or five players in their 20s, so it's a big, big difference for us. That's why we feel that we can sustain this growth of European players.

So I feel fine. I've got a tee shirt with the Order of Merit situation, I don't need to do that again. If I win here and I win at Valderrama, I still have an opportunity of doing it. But at the same time, better luck to both of them. I know how difficult it is, I know how tough it is to be vying against one another or against each other and I know what that feeling. So I've been in that position a lot. Whoever comes out on top will more than deserve it.

Q. Do you think there will be more Europeans playing in America at that time of year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it will be very, very similar. The players can't just come over and play a tournament and come back again. You need to commit to 15 tournaments. So you can't start just because there's a series of four events. You know, you have to commit to the start of the year. So I don't think there's any difference there.

Q. The FedExCup series, will it take most of the top players?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It will take a few of the top players. I don't think I'll be involved because I'm not playing 15 events. I'll be staying in Europe.

Q. The Americans have taken all of the World Golf Championship stroke play events to America next year, the World Cup will be the only one played outside; will you go over for those?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I'll go over. I just missed one this year because of my commitment to the All Star Cup, but at the same time, I'll go to world events. I think the rest of the world players will. We understand that's where the main sponsorship is, American Express, you've got Bridgestone, you've got Accenture. They are American based companies, if you like, and that's where their market is and you can understand them wanting to play their tournaments in America. I can understand that.

Q. (Playing so many weeks in a row?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you, John. Just a reminder, that I'm old.

I find it a real bonus that at 43 years old, I can compete, and start here, it's one thing to win an event. If I was in most other sports, in fact, all other sports, I would be well, well retired now. I feel very, very fortunate as golfers do that at 43 I'm still competing at this level and hope to do so for a number of years.

So five weeks in a row is no problem at all. I've got six in a row at the end of the year, all four in different continents. There is no problem to me to be walking around a golf course. I can walk seven miles a day, there's no problem there.

Q. (Did you used to play more?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did. I used to do 13, 14 in a row when I was a little bit younger. There's no difference at all. I feel exactly the same. There's no problem at all. It's just the mental strain of possibly the Ryder Cup takes a lot out of someone, especially having to go out first again in the singles took a lot out of me.

People don't quite appreciate how much that takes out of a person, me included, the pressure involved, the expectation involved in, oh, well, don't worry, Europe have got a point now. Well, hang on, it's actually quite difficult, very difficult. That was a great strain on me to have to try, when expectation is that great, to have to try and achieve that is a great strain. And that's why you probably didn't see me on the balcony celebrating with the team. I was downstairs shattered. People don't understand how that is to have a record like that and to keep on trying to win singles games and what have you. The expectation on me was almost too much this time.

Q. How important was it to go out and get the momentum going for Europe in the top single?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's most important. I was given a job to do, as Sam Torrance gave me, and Ian gave me, to keep the first game blue. I got 2 up on the third hole, and I lost the fifth and I was 1 down I was 1 up for the last ten holes in a row, and I don't want it to ever go back to level or go to red. It was most important that I kept it blue; that all of the other team members see, the first game, it's okay. It's a little more difficult than that. If it was that easy, we'd all be doing it, but it's not easy. I was delighted that Ian had some confidence in me to put me out first again and managed to achieve it, but took a lot out of me, took a lot out of me.

Q. Did you ask to be the first?


Q. Were surprised you were first?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I wasn't surprised when he asked. What I was surprised about was play playing David Toms to be my playing partner. I thought it would be Tiger Woods.

Q. Were you disappointed?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was disappointed not at all, bloody hell. (Laughter).

Q. It's ten years this week sinceTiger won his first professional tournament is there a possible European surge to counter-act him?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Depends how ambitious, and depends what Tiger does after what we feel is going to happen, is that after he wins his 19th major. Depends what happens then. Because I think we're all convinced now that this Jack Nicklaus record is going to go. We've spent a few years thinking about this and thinking it might not happen during 2002 2003 when Tiger was not winning the majors. Now he's won 12. There's only six, well, seven to go to beat it, and that could happen in three years time.

Q. With no other players charging against him

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's got to a stage, it's a bit like Roger Federer. Where if Roger Federer plays well, he wins. If Tiger Woods plays well, he wins. We're in that position. If Tiger Woods keeps on going at this level, yes, that's how good he is and that's how good he's been for our sport.

Q. (Satisfied with the year?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It hasn't actually been very good to be honest with you. I've had a lot of missed cuts. I've had three majors missed cuts, the other one was quite good and should have won, but Phil Mickelson might have said that as well. So you can't say that. I was delighted with my performance over there, and I look forward to a strong end to the season.

I've got a lot of good tournaments to play, I've good this and the Volvo Masters, and I go away to China and South Africa and to America again and I look forward to a strong end to the year which will make it satisfying. But right now I'm not satisfied with the performances on the golf courses this year and there's plenty of time left. I think there's eight or nine tournaments left to play and I look forward to them all.

Q. Playing Gleneagles after the U.S. Open, was that a mistake?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I'm chairman of the tournament. It's very difficult not to play for a start, and it was I led after two days. I led by two shots after two days and I'm delighted I was there. I eventually just didn't manage to come through. Paul Casey was very strong those last two days, playing with him.

But of course it was the right decision and I'll always play Gleneagles, I love it there.

Q. Earlier talking about winning the Order of Merit, would you like to get to ten?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, there is, yeah. I like to get to double figures. And then I would stop. Then I would stop, yeah. I'd like to get to ten, somehow. I don't know how. It's getting very, very tough now, very tough, with the young guys coming in, hitting the ball a bloody mile, it's getting difficult for me to compete. If I can, I'll give it a go.

Q. Your ranking in the world

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: 14th, yes, not bad.

Q. (Still a goal to be in the Top 10?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I have. I have with the Nedbank tournament, qualifying for world points as well, I've got opportunity, yes. I look forward to trying to get to that goal, starting here tomorrow.

Q. Whether it's here or Valderrama or wherever, is that still a goal?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I do. This is the only year in 13 or 14, that I haven't won in a calendar year, I won a European Tour event in Hong Kong, but it wasn't in 2006. Yes, I'd like to keep that record going.

Q. (Concern about young players in America?)

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, whether they are concerned or not, I'm not sure, but that's the fact and it's surprised a lot of people that Tiger at 30 was their youngest player. Very unusual, really, to have no one in their 20s in an American Ryder Cup Team. That's never happened.

You know, looking down the list, is there anybody in their 20s that is potentially coming through to play in Valhalla in their 20s, I don't know them sort of that well or the players, but suggest that Tiger might be the youngest player again, at 32 at Valhalla next time. But we're going to have a lot younger, a number of players that are younger than this, which is good for us.

GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everyone, Colin, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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