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July 11, 2007

Colin Montgomerie


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome, congratulations on last week, a timely return to form, given especially considering the next couple of weeks. Give us your thought going into the next fortnight.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I always take these two weeks as the biggest of the year when the Open is in Scotland. And to have these two weeks in Scotland, the next eight rounds of, golf if you like, are important for me. I always look forward to them. Never more so than coming off the back of a win coming into them. I've done that a couple of times when I won the Irish Open when it was in that date of the European Open, and it's always encouraging when that happens and you come into an event as big as this one and of course next week as well.
So I come here full of confidence and I'm looking forward to compete and challenge again.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: The last time The Open was at Carnoustie; '99. you won here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did, in 1999 I won here, and then went on to Carnoustie and a Scot won and I said to you all, 'Thank you very much.'
But all credit to Paul Lawrie for winning that one. And it's amazing, I know you'll write about it in the weeks to come, but amazing that that's the last European to have won a major championship. You wouldn't have thought that not happening, and let's hope that changes over the next, what, 12 days.

Q. Going into the week, if you were to play well and win again, next week would be enormous; your approach?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I approach this Scottish Open as an event that stands on its own two feet and that's why I'm here to try and win this. I know now that if I can do well here and win, you know, I'll top the Order of Merit again; so from 33rd three weeks ago to there is a bit of an effort.
It's a challenge itself, this tournament. It's nice to come back here to a place you've won at before. And I just look forward to trying to compete again, and just start again. I know I'm playing well. I know I'm swinging the club well. I know that the putting came back a little bit last week obviously, and yeah, we just go out there full of -- full of hope really and we'll see what happens. It's a stronger field obviously this week, but that doesn't seem to affect the winning score surprisingly enough. So we'll see how it goes.

Q. At the US Open, how disappointed were you with the timing of changing caddies?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oakmont was disappointing to say the least. The timing, the timing of the loss of Alastair was never a good time for that to happen and unfortunately it happened the week before a Major. Now, that didn't help. Having to borrow a caddie wasn't the right preparation unfortunately. It was a risk that didn't pay off for me and unfortunately on that particular style of golf course that you get into a run of bogeys, you can't get off of them; it was spiraling downhill quickly. Although believe it or not, I was actually hitting the ball, I felt some shots even at Oakmont, I was hitting the ball okay; I was. It was beginning to come back.
I was disillusioned at missing the cut, yes, but not disillusioned with one's own -- with one's own game. And I came back to France and the European Open and proved that, really. So, yes, disappointing in one way but not in another.

Q. What has helped you come back to form numerous times in your career?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think -- I think because I play the game naturally, I think that's helped me. I was playing the game more technically have a problem coming back again after you fall off that large rung of the ladder. I've done a couple of times I think. To get back on it I think one has to be more natural on the technique side of things, and I've been lucky that my game has always had a natural instinct to it, as opposed to a technical one and I think that's the reason why I've been able to come back more than -- more than some have.

Q. Johnny Miller once made the point regarding European players winning Majors that if you couldn't do it then it must be bloody difficult - would you agree with that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's quite fair. You know, I've always respected Johnny Miller. I've always thought his commentary a bit like McEnroe in the tennis, they are actually the best commentators because they have been there and they understand; they understand what's going on. And he does understand that it is bloody difficult, and since '97, we've had Woods involved and that has made it more difficult and he has taken 12 of these things over the years and that has made it harder for us.
But at the same time, I don't think people are saying that in particular, but I can understand his ideas; that it is hard. It's very, very hard to actually come through and win. And yet this year, I wouldn't say outsiders, but certainly you wouldn't have had money on Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera winning the first two majors.
So it is, it is I believe, it is possible to beat Tiger. Although he's been second in both, it's been possible to beat him. We'll see what happens in the next, as I say, the next 12 days.

Q. Would you agree that there are probably more Europeans with a chance to win now than ever?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. I think now is about time that we proved our Ryder Cup success in major championship golf. We've had superb success. We've won five of the last six Ryder Cups and yet we can't win a major. It seems unbelievable that one of that team can't come through and win on his own - myself included.
I think now is the time. We spoke about the Ryder Cup Team last year in September about how it was the strongest that it's ever been. I think people would say that; it's the strongest European Team ever to play. And now is the time that I think one of us should come forward, and it's about time that one of us -- I think we are good enough to come forward and win now.

Q. Why hasn't that happened?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's just coincidence to be honest with you, just unlucky coincidence that it hasn't happened.

Q. When you're playing The Ryder Cup, do you talk about winning major championships when you are together as a team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. The word major championship is not mentioned! Maybe because it negative in our team room. We try and be as positive as possible and we try and talk about Ryder Cups more than we do about Major Championships because it is negative.
No, we don't talk about it, at all, no. We're trying to focus on what we're trying to do there. But when it's all done and dusted, you guys and girls come up with facts; well, why have this team had so much success over the years and yet they can't win individually in a Major Championship.
And you know, I've got this theory about Tiger taking two of them. I've got the other theory about the next six in the World Rankings are not Europeans; they are full of Vijay Singhs, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, that type of person, Phil Mickelson, and of course they have taken the other one, and that leaves one. So instead of 32 Majors or whatever it is since the last 30-odd Majors since the last European success, it's only been a quarter of that. I mean, it happened last year, didn't it? He won the last two last year. He might well go and do the same thing again. And then another year passes, and we'll see.
But let's hope not. Let's hope to have European success sooner than later.

Q. When you go into majors, obviously the focus is on Europe having not won one and when you get to the Ryder Cup, it's rah-rah; does that make a difference?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly, possibly there are negative thoughts beforehand. On the first tee we might be thinking, "I'm a European; so therefore, I probably won't win," which is bizarre, you know, and it shouldn't be that way. I don't know what other people are thinking. I'm not thinking that way. I'm thinking, okay, we'll try and break this duck or whatever the case may be.
It's nice, a personal treat for me to go in there, into Carnoustie, if you're talking about that, as not just a wild-card as I was three weeks ago; as a probable contender now, and that's a big jump from a wild-card to a possible contender.

Q. Tiger led at one stage of the final round of the US Open and didn't win - is there a feeling that he's not invincible?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, when Aaron Baddeley tripled the first, Tiger was leading and you thought, okay, well, that's that, and it didn't happen as you say, for the first time and it's encouraging in some ways that that can happen. Now it's given us hope that -- I think in the year 2000, he was invincible, but now possibly not so much and it's given us all a little bit of a hope, if you like, sure.

Q. Who would you say has the best chance among the Europeans to win a Major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, you have to look at the whole 12 Ryder Cup players; 11 if you don't include me obviously, that are capable. Some, of course, are more capable than others. But they are all very capable, and it's difficult to point out, pinpoint any two.
But if you're looking for a couple, Harrington and Casey. They would be my pick if there was to be a couple. If you're looking for a couple, that would be a couple of that team that are very capable to go forward, yeah.

Q. Your own Major form has either been very good or....
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Or, go on, or -- there's no ladies present, you can say what you want -- (laughter) well, Lewine - oh crap, go on!

Q. What has gives you more of a boost contending in Majors; run of form or support from the galleries?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, good. Well, the last Open that was played in Scotland was St. Andrews, and I felt even in the practice rounds when I saw my Monty supporters, the five of them from Stirling University were fantastic; good on them. I felt there was a certain warmth for me that I hadn't felt before in a Major Championship. Troon was great, but St. Andrews was different in 2005, and I felt that. I felt almost obliged to do well for them, and that's what that was.
Winged Foot, I happened to be swinging the club very, very well going into there, so that gave me a boost. So it's either the feeling of the support I have or the way I'm playing.
So now, going into Carnoustie, I've got both of those factors; so therefore this is an opportunity, yes.

Q. Have you made a conscious effort to try and generate that warmth more recently?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think that everything that's been written about me and been said about me over this period has helped in many ways. I think that I have related in my past to everybody. I think that everybody sees a human side to me, and that's related within the general public; so they can relate to me in that way.
I think there's a genuine warmth from them to me and from me to them more so than ever before, and hopefully that can happen, not just this week, but next week as well.

Q. Are there any thoughts, how you felt about things on the 18th in the European Open, thinking back to Winged Foot?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's hypothetical, so of course it's difficult to say. But it wasn't a very good shot, and I did think about standing there on 18th, and it was funny, because I didn't know -- I got there far too early on that buggy and I had not realised that group had not teed off; and they have a long walk around the water and long walk back around before signing all that stuff at 18 green.
So I waited there for not five minutes or ten minutes, but I went through over 15 minutes. And a lot goes through your mind after 19 months of waiting for a victory and standing on the tee one ahead. And knowing how difficult the pin placements on 16, 17 were last week; and knowing a par here would probably do; having played the holes myself just five minutes ago, I realised how difficult the pin placements were, so I realised that par was key and, yes, the ball faded. It was supposed to fade. I just started it far too straight. I was supposed to aim left; forgot that bit, and it went a little bit right. And it was lucky. There's no question it was lucky.
But, at the same time, I've had my odd misfortune. And a bit of luck, you know, doesn't do anybody any harm. But at the same time, I've never, ever, ever in my 31 European Tour wins, I've never ever stood up in a winning speech and said I was unlucky; I never will. The champion of the week always has a bit of fortune whether it's the 72nd hole or 35th hole or 15th hole. There's always a bit of fortune that goes his way that keeps his round going, and that happened to be the last hole last week.

Q. Remind you of Winged Foot?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it was definitely, definitely, similar type of shot pin was on the right-hand side of the green at Winged Foot and set up for me perfectly. I look at the pin sheet at start of the day, and I like that there's a number of pins on the right-hand side of the green; that benefits me. Middle of the green, it fades in; so Winged Foot was set up for me perfectly. And I set both shots off far, too, too, straight and it turned a bit left. But apart from that, I did think of Winged Foot a lot.

Q. So were you trying to make birdie or --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, because I knew the pin locations, that pars were good. 16, 17, 18, to par in was fine, yeah. There was nothing wrong with that. If someone finished 2-2, well, all credit to them. I knew how difficult it was and it wasn't possible to do. I knew to get my score in has always been, has always been a target to people. It's always quite difficult to then do, as I did here in '99. I played quite early, I played about five groups in from the end, started three behind here. I shot my 64, and posted the score, and it's amazing how often that happens. Last year, again, Edfors started way behind, shot his 63, posted his score and it wasn't -- and it wasn't obtainable then, any of the top players that were leading at the time. It was amazing how often that happens.

Q. Talk about your success since putting a new caddie on the bag.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I mean, amazing really, to have that success; to have a third and a first in the last two weeks, amazing success. Very enthusiastic, wanting success as much as I and I look forward to continue with him, yeah. It's been a great start, a great two weeks, and we'll see if we can go even better this week, yeah. It would be great.

Q. Difference between here and Carnoustie?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think if you keep out of the bunkers at Carnoustie you'll do well. Any links scores course you stay out of the bunkers, and I think I'm driving the ball quite well and that's fine.
Here, this is more of a second shot golf course than Carnoustie is. Carnoustie is more of a driving course. You have to put the ball in play off the tee because the greens are so much bigger on a links course than they are on a mainland course. So driving is key at Carnoustie, but here it's more of a second shot golf course where your iron play is key, and my irons if I don't hit left are usually quite good.
Both courses, when you're playing well and confident, any source sets up well, but these two in particular.

Q. How often have you played Carnoustie this year - it seems a lot fairer than '99?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was at an R&A Patrons Day about six weeks ago, and it was, as you say, it was very fair then. You had a fair amount of rain so the rough will be heavier than norm, just through nature. But the fairways are a lot more generous than they were in '99. The course didn't need the way it was set up in '99. The course is very -- one of the best, anyway, without to be set up that way.
I think the lessons have been learned and I think that the course is -- the course will be in fantastic condition. I've never played on a better fairways and links course, and the greens will be superb. They were left a bit long for obvious reasons six weeks ago, but they have cut them down and firmed it up and it should be a great Open.
I am glad that Tiger is making it across. There was doubt, obviously, that he wasn't making it through birth of his child and what-have-you, but we're all glad that he's coming over. Because it's like a Wimbledon without Federer, it wouldn't be the same.

Q. One of the other players last week surmised possibly the future for this event might be playing on a links course --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's more opportunity here to be playing a links course because, Lyle Anderson, the owner here has also Dundonald Golf Club on the coast and there has been talk about that. I don't know the politics involved, but at the same time there has been talk about playing down at Dundonald which has a links feel. We had the opportunity playing the Scottish Open at Carnoustie in '95, '96, I believe and that was good for us before The Open.
So there is the possibility there, more so possibly the European Open being at The K Club of course they have two courses but they are both parkland-style courses.

Q. When do you arrive in Carnoustie?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I go out late, yes. There's no reason why I shouldn't sustain that. My preparation is arriving on Tuesday, Tuesday afternoon, I'll go out and play on Tuesday in the evening and it's good, because there's less people around and I can get more work done around the greens and then take it easier on Wednesday.
But I know the course. The Europeans know the course due to the Dunhill Links Championship being played on that course every year, so we have that advantage, and also those who remember '99. So, yeah, I know the course very well.

Q. Can you tell us how much you work with your coach now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I'm always in contact, but at the same time, when you're swinging the club well, there's less contact required on the phone or otherwise. When things aren't going well, that's when you need more help. I think when things are going well and you're swinging the club well, you need to get on with it and that's what's been going on really.

Q. How do you think Carnoustie will play compared to in the Dunhill?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it will be -- it will be more of a severe test -- well not a severe test but it will be a greater test than Dunhill, especially pin positions. What happens at Dunhill, of course, is the pins are left; therefore, all three days; and they have to favour getting people around the course in a sensible, certain time and also they are positioned more in the middle of the greens. You'll find that the British Open, that the pin positions will be in the corners tucked behind bunkers and different pin locations in use. Therefore, the course will play a lot tougher than it does in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Q. Talk about the focus on Scotland in the coming weeks.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, definitely, fantastic, yeah.
Well, I think it's fantastic that for a small nation as we are, to host this event and also, you know, golf's major event, if you like, The Open Championship. To host it in such a small nation in population terms, but a huge one in golfing terms. And it's nice to be the leading Scottish player of the day coming into these events in my era, and it's a very proud time for me to go to these venues, these special venues. And then as you say, not just this and The Open; but we have the Senior Open and the ladies Open at St. Andrews which is an event in itself, for those doors to be open.
So that's fantastic, and it's great for Nick to have the opportunity to play Muirfield again as a senior. So Scotland is, as you say, is the centre of golf over the next month, which is super for us.
MICHAEL GIBBONS: Colin, thanks very much. Good luck this week.

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