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November 3, 1999

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: You've won at Valderrama, you've clinched four matches at Valderrama. How about in the millennium, winning at Valderrama.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That would be great. I've enjoyed playing here. The course is in superb condition. It brings back good memories every time I play here. And playing the 17th and 18th holes yesterday brought back good memories for me. It's the first time I played the course since '97's Ryder Cup. So it's a course that does suit me, and I stand on the first tee very, very confident on this course, as opposed to some, where I don't feel as comfortable. So I'm looking forward to this test very much so.

GORDON SIMPSON: We spoke a few weeks ago, you said it's a game of chess, playing this golf course.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It still is. Length is not the greatest advantage on this course. We all know that. It's more positioning. It's more sort of a U.S. Open style of course, where you have to position the ball off the tee and know exactly how far your own shots go. The fairways are absolutely perfect, everyone is saying they're the best fairways in the world. There's no excuse for not really getting a good lie. So distance control with your irons is so important for these pin placements. It should be good.

GORDON SIMPSON: How do you appraise what Tiger has achieved in America?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: To win, I don't know, 7 out of the last 11 tournaments or something, was quite unbelievable, including a major and the NEC in there; it's quite phenomenal. And by far, the best right now. And from what we can ascertain as players, I don't think that's going to change very much over the next few years. He seems to be ambitious as ever, and seems to want every title around the world. And it's good that he does travel around the world. He's playing in Taiwan next week, which is super for World Golf. And he's right now the best that we can have for the game. And the way he's playing golf it's quite unbelievable.

Q. Are you cheering others on this week?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm cheering everybody on, apart from three. To answer your question, really, I mean I'm glad it's here, personally, on a course that I feel that I'm one of the favorites to win the event. And that's what I'm going out to do. I'm going out to try to win this event. If somebody comes up and beats me this event, well, that's fine. But all I can -- all I'm here to do is try to win this event. I'm fit and I'm playing well. I'm hitting the ball well. And we'll see. But I'm going out there to try to win the tournament myself. And forgetting everything else. I'm trying to win this myself. And that will take care of everything.

Q. Certainly, though, you have worked out or been told exactly what the situation is?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: All I can control in this game is myself and my own ball. And I can't control somebody else's. If somebody else goes and wins, and does well, as I say, I'll credit him. This is the 7th year that I've finished the Volvo Masters as No. 1. And I'm very proud of that. Whatever happens this week, this Order of Merit this year is a very, very different one to what we've had in the past. Some big, big purses have been included and some have been capped and some haven't, and nobody knows where we stand. It's all come down to one huge, huge purse at the end of the day. Whatever happens this week to be leading the Volvo Masters, seven years in a row, I'm very proud of.

Q. Colin, you said last week, I think on Saturday you were having some putting problems. Did you change your club?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I didn't change my club. There was a lot of grain on these greens last week that nobody saw. A lot of people had problems putting. Believe it or not with the scores so low, it's difficult to think that. But they did. The course was just not -- the rough wasn't deep enough, and the conditioning of the course was such that the balls weren't running into difficulty. So it was unfortunately too easy a test for the Volvo Masters last week. This isn't. This is a completely different ballgame. And one I look forward to. So putting isn't the determining factor on this golf course.

Q. Did you instantly like this course?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did, the first time I saw the course. Other people said it's tight. I love that. I love when other people think it's tight.

Q. Is that the main thing you love about it? Can you be more specific?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think the tightness of the drives, I've always appreciated, because I think that reward should be given for somebody that hits it straight and not the guy that doesn't. And also opening years I found I've got very good distance with my iron shots, because I'm hitting the fairway. And therefore, I'm giving myself more opportunities for birdies than most, around a course of this quality. That's why I'm looking forward to it.

Q. It was once a little bit too tight of a course, the 10th tee?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The 10th tee was too tight, but I made a big error. I was inexperienced at the time and finished three groups and didn't go to the practice ground and hung around. And I was inexperienced then. And I will never do that mistake again. Sandy Lyle stood up straight from the 18th hole and got the honor, and hit 1-down the middle and put pressure on me immediately. If the honor was different -- the honor in that situation is crucial, I feel. And to go first is a great advantage. And he had that advantage.

Q. Can you talk about the 17th, the latest changes, is it now a better hole than it has been?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It was a better hole in 1993 and 1994.

Q. So they haven't changed it sufficiently to get it back to what it was?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's still and it will be a very controversial hole.

Q. Two-shotter?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Could be a two-shotter, depending. Most of the time I think that you'll find us laying up. Two shots in match play we'd be going for it. If we -- we had more freedom in match play. Stroke-play you don't have that freedom, you've got to protect. And I don't think we'll be going for that green in two shots, no. I think you'll still give yourself a birdie putt, that's No. 1 on that green.

Q. Colin, yesterday Tiger talked about the fact that he felt there was room for improvement in every aspect of his game?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I know, I read that.

Q. How do you feel about that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If there is, that's great. We all would love to improve and love to think that we can improve, and you know as I've said before the perfect game of golf has never been played and never will be played. Until somebody gets close, until that's as good as I do sort of thing, we've all got room for improvement. And that's why I'm just saying he's young and ambitious enough to realize that. And he's been working hard the last year and a half and got it sorted out. After he won The Masters, he went away and changed his swing.

Q. As good as you are, have you seen shots from him that you can never hope to make?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I can't hit shots like him -- I can hit some, but the length I can't compete with and neither can anyone else in World Golf. When you see him play with Davis Love and giving him 35 yards, Davis Love is not short. There are certain shots that Tiger Woods can hit. He sees certain holes differently. I'm sure you'll find out here that there will be certain shots that he'll be going for that we won't see. There's a couple of dog legs around here that he might take the corner out of, and we're positioning it down -- the way the hole is meant to be played, he's playing it a different way, and you might find that he'll take out some dog legs and be as -- not as cautious as you might think he is and will be around here.

Q. Does anything surprise you about the way he played the course in the Ryder Cup?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think the expectation of Ryder Cup for Tiger was obviously huge on him, and I don't think -- I think it was a different atmosphere than Tiger was expecting and didn't quite come to terms with the place. And this is why I think this time that he's determined to prove that there's no course in the world that Tiger Woods can't win on and can't play on. And I think that's what we all want to feel; that I want to be able to get to The Masters tournament when I feel that I have a great chance of winning here. Over the last few years I haven't felt that way, but I'm beginning to get there. And he wants to get that out of the way here, as well. He wants to feel that this is a course where he can win on. He can win on any course, and that's what he wants to achieve. He wants to win the four Grand Slam majors, and every World Championship event. He's doing a good job at it right now.

Q. Are you more ambitious than he is or is he more ambitious than you are?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Ambition, it's difficult to say. I can't speak for him. All I can say is that I haven't lost any ambition over the years, and I'm very ambitious with a great drive, and the will to win is still there. More so. The more this run goes on, the more ambitious I am to keep it.

Q. What about each of the three players --

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's actually four.

Q. Who could take your crown away?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You want me to speak about them?

Q. Garcia is a rookie professional.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Obviously to start after The Masters and do what he's done is phenomenal. Although the big money he's made, has come from the U.S. PGA and also the NEC Tournament. To have won two big tournaments in Europe shows he's not frightened and shows that he's there and will be obviously a threat for many, many years to come. Lee has proved himself over the last three years to be a world player, really, and again, has won on four continents last year, which is a remarkable fate. And obviously he's determined. They all are. They're all determined to beat me at the end of the day. They all are. They must be by now. I would be. And Retief Goosen is obviously playing very, very well. It's unfortunate the putts for him didn't go in on Sunday last week. He had the opportunity of topping as well. It's come down to a huge purse event at the end of the year. There's one more tournament to go. And all I can say right now is I'm glad it's here, and the four people we've mentioned, including myself, I would have it on this course than any other course in the world, having to do what we have to do this week, I would have it here than anywhere.

Q. Ben Hogan once said that it took him a long, long time, years and years and years before he felt sure that he was not going to be -- he was not going to be -- it took him a long time to realize he can go out and play par. Has that happened to you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm realizing it now over the last few years that I can -- a bad round is around about the par mark, and it wasn't a few years ago, it was over. There must be some shots I'm hitting now mentally, I'm stronger than I ever have been. I'm hitting shots now that are better than they were before. And if the putts drop, I do very well. If they don't go in, well, I'm just there. It's all about putting at this level, really. You can never really putt badly in this type of field on this strength of field and win, you can't do that, you've got to hole a fair share.

Q. You say you like this course, specifically. Is there a course in the world that intimidates you that you play regularly?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Intimidates me? Not particularly, no. The only intimidation factor comes when it's quite windy and you get intimidated by certain shots in the wind. But there's not really, no. There's no course that intimidates me, no.

GORDON SIMPSON: I'm sure, and Valderrama will get along well this week, and we'll see what happens Sunday afternoon.

End of FastScripts….

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