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September 19, 2006

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Colin, we've just been hearing that the U.S. Team have had a singsong last night to build team spirit. Have you been practising your camaraderie? What have you been doing?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We've actually been playing golf, believe it or not. That's why we're here (laughter).

GORDON SIMPSON: Tell us about today; the atmosphere is building now.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Today we played a round of golf. It was good. When Tiger finished his round, we had the crowd watching us, it was quite good. I had a good game with the Englishmen this morning, David and Luke and Paul, and enjoyed the game. I've seen the course again. We haven't played this course for a year, year and a half now, so I've never seen the course in better condition. Hate to use a sort of cliché, but we look forward to Friday and seeing what's going to happen here.

This is a fantastic event. The staging of this event, it's amazing. There is so much setup. I just hope the weather forecast is not as it's supposed to be because a lot of money and a lot of time has been spent on the rock concert, never mind the ceremony and the tournament. We look forward to it happening this week and hope you do, as well.

Q. Stewart Cink paid you a compliment and said that while they are obviously targeting all Europeans, the main man they want to beat is you because of your record and what you mean to the Europeans. Do you take that as a compliment?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No (laughter). That's a real criticism, isn't it? That's terrible.

I take that as a highest compliment, of course. But I must admit on this occasion, I must admit, I'm one of a very good 12 here, a very good 12. This is probably, hate to say before the event starts, but it's our strongest, I believe, and Ian said it as well, I believe it's our strongest team we've ever put together as a team. I think that rings true. I'm just one of 12 here.

But I thank Stewart for his comments.

Q. About this time two years ago, there was no guarantee that you were going to be part of the Ryder Cup Team. I wonder if you could talk about the dynamics of playing last time as a captain's pick and how much that rejuvenated your career, for lack of a better word?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I don't think if I'd been selected I wouldn't have won the Order of Merit last year, that's for sure. That selection by Bernhard Langer two years ago was I think vital for my career. I was 41 at the time and it was not looking good. The last few years was not good, both on and off the course, and it wasn't good at all. That pick that I had two years ago I believe saved me in many, many ways.

Sort of fate, if you like, what happened two years ago, that out of the 24 guys that were left at the start, I've often said this, one of the 24 guys playing is going to hole the winning putt or have the opportunity to hole the winning putt, anyway. On this occasion, fate played its part and it was me who was given the opportunity to hole the winning putt and I took it. God knows how, but I did.

And it did rejuvenate me and my career and went on to win the Order of Merit again the following year. I think that helped me qualify for this team, of course it did. It was a very, very important captain's pick, one of the most important ones for someone's career that there's ever been, I'm sure.

Q. You said it's been a year and a half since you've seen the golf course. I wonder if you've discerned the differences between things that Arnold Palmer changed and how that plays.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's not many differences to be honest with you. We saw the new tees the last time we played the European Open here, so there's no worries with the course, the conditions, or anything like that. We're very used to this golf course. It's a home course for us, it's a home course advantage, and it plays to us. We know the scoring, we know what's going on around here. We're very comfortable around here. We're comfortable in the hotel, we've all stayed in the hotel many, many times before and we've all been around here; and therefore, our home advantage should help us.

Q. As a man who has played in many Ryder Cups and won many Ryder Cups, most times that's been termed an upset when you have won, and how does it look to you being the favourites, and would you agree with that?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. I think this is all going to be very close. We all realise it's going to be close. For the first time, the Americans have come over here early. Tom Lehman has not gone afoot wrong in any way, shape or form. He's determined, as all of the American team are, to try to win this trophy back again, more determined than any team, because he brought them over early. It's never been done before.

So I think this tournament, this competition will be very close. I think it's going to ride I think it will come down to someone's putt again on Sunday the way it has been over the last 20 years. It was last year that was very different, but we must remember last year, as well, there was 11 games coming down the last hole last year and we won eight of them. We never lost a hole. We never lost the last hole last year. Now, if that was a different ballgame, that would have been very, very close.

So it wasn't that; it wasn't that dramatic a win last year. It was just that we happened to do very well on the last hole. So, yes, the gap at 18½ 9½ seemed a lot, but it was a lot different coming down the last hole.

Q. How is it being the favourite? Usually you guys come in as the underdog.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think that's not feeding us in any way; we're not complacent in any way. No, we look forward to the position we're in. We look forward to trying to make history, the first time to try to win this Ryder Cup three times in a row. It would be great for us all if we could achieve that.

Q. After The Belfry in 2002 and holing the winning putt last time, how can the Ryder Cup get any better for you?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Winning here. Just being part of a team to win here. Doesn't matter how I perform, really, at all, as long as I can help the team in some way on and off the course, if you like, in a role that I seem to have now.

I just look forward to helping the team gain 14½ points somehow. It can get better for me by being part of a three time winning Ryder Cup squad, if you like.

Q. Is The European Team spirit as strong as it's been in the past? We get the impression the Americans are ordering room service and bonding and the Europeans are playing Twister or something

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm not very good at Twister at all. We had a great team spirit with Sam Torrance in 2002, great team spirit; Sam was brilliant. Bernhard, as well. We had again, I think that won us that particular event. And this year, I don't see any difference at all. Last night's team dinner was a laugh and a joke and fun, and we're all very excited about what's ahead of us here. I don't think there's any difference in our team spirit from what I've seen in 2002/2004, which was superb.

Q. Europeans are all world players, as well. Does that dissipate the togetherness, that a number of you play in America as well?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, a number of us play in America, a lot. But no, when we get together like this, we're very as one from our Spanish compatriots in Sergio and José to the rest of the British contingent and our two Swedes on board. We're very close, very close as a unit. That's one of Europe's strengths, if not Europe's greatest strength over these last wins that we've had, four out of the last five. I think I would put it down to team spirit more than anything else.

Q. With the wet weather that's forecast, will that change the dynamics of the golf course? In other words, the ball doesn't run terribly much and in theory the fairways might be easier to find and if that might possibly play into their hands; do you agree with that and do you think that wet weather would change the test for both sides?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. The fairways are very soft now, actually. We've had a lot of rain here, yesterday morning I believe. Just as we landed it was pouring. The fairways are very wet and they are thinking about lift, clean and place already, the fairways.

I think it will make the fairways wider for us all. I don't think that has been a great asset to us.

I think what's happened over the last four victories out of the last five, if you see most putts being holed, is most putts being holed by Europeans. I think it's on the greens that we've won the Ryder Cup in four of the last five, not just fairways. I think we've just putted terrific, and that goes back to the team spirit, where we're willing each other on to hole putts for each other, and that's what we do in the Ryder Cup.

I don't hole a putt for me in the Ryder Cup at all. My individual record is meaningless here, absolutely meaningless. I don't care about it at all. All I'm holing putts for is Sergio, I'm holing putts for Padraig Harrington or Paul McGinley or Darren or whoever it might be. That's what I'm doing here. I'm not on any personal crusade here at all, nothing at all. I'm just here for the team members, and they feel the same about me, too. That's why the putts tend to go in.

Q. Going back a couple of questions, the role that you seem to have, as you said, how much has Woosie talked to you about what your role might be or how much have you talked to him about what you might be able to bring to the team as an on course leader?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure. I've spoken to Woosie at length about that position, and whatever it is for now will remain between us; I'll tell you on Sunday.

I have a different role, just not in playing, I suppose. I'm the oldest player on either team (rolling eyes). So I have a different type of role, but a role that I enjoy, and a role that I'm honoured to have, and I'll tell you more on Sunday.

Q. Just to follow that up, when Stewart Cink said that he's targeting you and you especially, it was not just as a player but as a team leader that the others look up to, and if they can handle you they can handle the rest of the team rather like you and Harrington did with Woods and Mickelson.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think that was a very true statement last time when the American team themselves, the other ten members of that team saw Woods and Mickelson losing, that it was more than one point. We, Padraig Harrington and I, knew that; that this is worth an awful lot more than one point. Because it was the first game, as well, it meant ever so much. If we were in the third or fourth game, it wouldn't have meant as much.

Going out first and actually winning was massive. But I do believe that all eggs were thrown into one basket there with the Woods and Mickelson situation. We don't have that now. You won't find all eggs in one basket with us because we've got 12. We've got 12 great players here for Europe, and we can mix and match as well as I've ever known any team to mix and match. You could almost draw us out of a bucket really. You could draw us out and say, okay, he can play with him and he can play with him.

You know, that's up to Woosie. But at the same time, it's that strong and it's that good.

Q. Does that take the responsibility off you as the ringmaster then?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A little more responsibility off my shoulders, yes.

Q. Do you enjoy this week more than any other week in the year, and if so, why?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I enjoyed the putt at Winged Foot, 17th hole, I must admit, that was good. I didn't enjoy the next hole, but I enjoyed doing that. I think I enjoy personal success, of course you do. But I do enjoy this more than any other, yes, yes.

This is a tournament that, as I say, my personal record goes flying out the window and I'm here for the team, and I'm sure that my other 11 members of the team will come in here and say exactly the same thing. That's why we've done well and that's why I think we'll do well again.

GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everyone, we are going to hear from the other members of the team, so thank you very much for coming in.

End of FastScripts.

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