|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
July 18, 2007
STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Colin Montgomerie on a very unpleasant morning. Colin, of all the field here, you probably know the course as well as anybody; you've played it many, many times. Give us your impressions of the course for this year for the Championship.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, good morning. The course, it's more -- we play a championship here, the dunhill links championship, every year October time, and the course is more akin to that than it was for the 1999 Open. And we think a much fairer and better test of golf, to be honest.
I think I played a late practice round yesterday and was very impressed with the standard of everything out there, and the fairways are unbelievably good, the quality of everything. The course is in excellent shape.
I've played here, as you say, many times, from youth golf through Scottish international golf as an amateur player, through Scottish Opens and dunhill links and what have you, and managed to have a good round once in the Scottish Open where I shot 64, when it was par-72. The last hole was a par-5. And also 12th was a par-5.
And that remains the best score that's been scored around here. That's an honor for me coming into an Open with the best score that's been scored.
I just look forward to tomorrow, and hopefully we have slightly better weather for the opening round.
Q. I just wanted to know after a couple weeks ago how you feel your form coming in, and what that win does for you, even though it wasn't links golf?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, no, a win is a win; it doesn't matter if it's in the car park. Fabulous, really, because after 19 months one wasn't sure whether it was going to happen again. You do have doubt and you think, well, okay, was the Hong Kong Open in 2005 the last one? And thank goodness it wasn't.
I do hope the European Open in 2007 wasn't, either. It just gives you a lot of confidence. It gives you the confidence over the ball, over any shot, that you've done it just, as you say, ten days ago, if you like. Yeah, it's just a confidence boost, that's all.
I can't say anything bar that. It just proves that I'm capable of still winning and against a good European Tour field, which of course they all are now.
Q. With your familiarity around here, do you have any favorite tales or stories that illustrate the quality and dangers of this golf course?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, the dangers are easy. The last Championship here in 1999, the leader after one round missed the cut. There's dangers around every corner, even the shorter, so-called par-4s are very dangerous, there's a lot of burns around here. You can get into some trouble even on the shorter par-4s. It's just a very demanding golf course from the first shot to the very last one.
We think, as general, of all the courses on The Open rotor, this is possibly the toughest of them all. We just hope for fair weather, and in that I mean that if it does blow or the wind does blow at all, it blows all day and not just for half the field.
Q. I was wondering on the timing of the mobile phone ban --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm fine with photographers on the course; it's fine for me. It's the other players that I feel that that was brought in for. (Laughter.) The likes of Retief, and people like that, the people that really get upset over these type of things. I'm fine.
No, I think it's a policy that has been coming for many years, and I think it's right that it should be. It's not just the mobile phone, itself, goes off; that happens to be more of a noise nowadays, they can actually take a picture on a mobile phone with a camera. I think it's the right thing to do.
I think this will be the start of many not just championships but tournaments within Europe doing the same thing.
Q. I think you're fit and healthy, 43-, 44-year-old these days. What would you regard as a modern golfer's prime years as a competitor? Second question, after all the Opens you've been in, do you have any different strategy this time or are you bringing the same strategy you've used before?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Prime for golf, it's amazing. As long as you keep your so-called circle of flexibility with your back, I suppose that's the thing that stops most of us. As long as I'm flexible within that regard, I can keep going.
Many people say that coming up 44 is seniors' golf. Well, that doesn't really interest me at this stage at all. If I'm 51, 52 and capable of playing, I'll play out here. It doesn't mean you have to play in the Senior Tour when you're 50.
Q. Are you still in your prime?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I hope so, I just won ten days ago. I think I'm fine that way. I've just beaten 155 other competitors in Europe; it's not a bad effort. So, yeah, definitely. Vijay Singh's, he's February, I'm June, he's four months older than I am, and I'm not saying he's not come over here to win. And I'm here for the very same reason. 44 is not a problem in golf terms, not at all.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Strategy, second question. No different from any others. I've just got to try to accelerate through the putts. I haven't been doing that recently, and I didn't do it last week and I just about got away with it at the K Club there. And I was accelerating yesterday in the practice round and I will do during the Championship and accelerate through the putts. They were going in yesterday. So let's hope they will go in over the next four days.
Q. Nick Faldo the other day was quoted as saying -- the reason why European players haven't won a Major in a long time, there's too much money, not enough hunger, the guys are to chummy together. It seemed to ruffle a few feathers among the European guys. I'm wondering on your take on that, and could there be any negative implications regarding the Ryder Cup coming up next year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't think that his comments regarding the familiarity -- I think that's why we do well in the Ryder Cup, because we are familiar with each other.
You saw at the Barclays Scottish Open there last week that the Frenchman, Gregory Havret won there, and a great win, I must admit. I think it was his first win. For the other five Frenchmen who were playing in the tournament to come out on the last green to congratulate him, that's why we do well in the Ryder Cup, for that very reason. We're very close on the European Tour, a big family, if you like. The countries, if you like, stick together and they're very, very close.
I don't think that would happen possibly on the U.S. Tour. You'd find all the people from Texas coming out to support their guy who just won. I don't think that would happen, or whatever state it might be. I'm very proud of that fact within Europe that we do support each other, and that's why we've done well. Regards playing for too much money, I'm still convinced we don't play for enough.
Q. Just as a follow on that, because you make a great point about the Ryder Cup. My wonder is if Nick's comments ruffling some feathers, is there concern about that affecting it negatively, because obviously he's the captain?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, Nick's captain, and we're very privileged to have him as captain, I think he'll be a fabulous captain. I don't think there's any problem with his comments or with the players on the European Tour, to be honest.
Q. Could you clarify the issue with your two coaches?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I just wish I had more, to be honest (laughter). Two probably isn't enough. Denis has been a close friend and a very close friend to me over the years. He's here to help me score the least number of shots possible, and so is Pete Cowen. They both work together in tandem, and I'm very happy to have them both with me.
Q. With your knowledge of Carnoustie, does this course give you your best chance of winning a Major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly. I'm playing as well as I have -- tee-to-green certainly I'm playing as well as I have for many years. It gives me a great opportunity. I have a chance, of course I do. I'm playing well enough.
I've got a good time, if you like, in the draw and you just take it as it comes. If I get off to a decent start tomorrow, by 11:00 if I'm a couple under par or something like that, I've got off to a decent start, then we can stick into contention.
But the start is very important for me. If I can get off to a decent first round I should be there by Sunday. It depends on the weather, obviously, and if we're lucky with the weather conditions.
You can imagine if this was tomorrow morning and I was out there at 9:30, and it all clears up and dries up for the afternoon, it could work in reverse. So one doesn't know. One just takes one's chances with the weather on these links courses.
Q. Between St. Andrews and Winged Foot, your best chances of majors have come recently after a bit of a lull. Do you feel you've got kind of a second wind?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so. I think so, yes, a start again, if you like. As I say, I'm swinging the club the way I did in the mid to late '90s, which was obviously a new -- I knew where the ball was going; I do again. That gives me the confidence to hit the ball harder and longer and straighter, and to do well at St. Andrews was delightful.
And to follow up with a decent performance at Winged Foot, that was the one that sort of really should have done better in the report card on that particular system. But never mind, there you go. Now we're a year later and we'll see how we do here.
Q. When we were last year in '99 Tiger was still stuck on one major win. Can you just sum up what he's achieved since and what everybody still faces with him in the field this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I mean it's the one score that you guys -- and girls, excuse me -- look for. I do, and every other competitor does. It's the one score that you look towards. We'll just wait and see. He's obviously still competing to this level that we've never seen before. He's only on one Major winner, I suppose, because none came in '98.
We just look forward to trying to see if that remarkable record of Jack Nicklaus can be equaled and then broken because there's only one person really that can ever come close, I think, and this is -- I'm very lucky to be in this era, to have a chance of witnessing it.
Q. Is the question whether he will anymore?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Personally I don't think there's a question mark whether he will, it's when.
Q. It took ages before Seve Ballesteros made the breakthrough in Majors, particularly over in America. Do you think that if one of you guys makes the breakthrough that a lot will follow, that you're just waiting for one person to make that breakthrough?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah. It is a statistic that is incredibly against us. I don't know why it should be this way. I don't know how many majors have been played since the last one here, times eight, 32nd Major here without a European win, which is incredible. You can put your finger on a number of things.
At that stage when we were winning majors in Europe there was only Freddie Couples and I think Greg Norman in the top eight that weren't European of the World Rankings. Now I don't believe, is there one or two just struggling into the Top 10 in Europe and it's a very different scenario. The top, top players are either American or non-European, if you like. And that's why we possibly haven't won.
We need the likes of a Seve or a Langer or a new Faldo or Lyle to come through, a real world beater, if you like, as these guys were. We haven't quite got there. Who says it won't happen this week and then go forward from there. There's a few names from our Ryder Cup team that you would think would come through eventually, they just haven't done as yet. We wish them all success because it is about time that a European was successful in a Major championship and then it might help them all.
Q. When did you stop thinking of yourself as a world beater, then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, I never have been, not a world beater. A world beater is someone who wins many, many majors and I haven't. I've come very close, don't get me wrong, I've done okay, five seconds. But I never classified myself as that.
Q. 18th hole, speaking to its length, can you talk about your strategy playing that hole, that final hole?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yeah, it's one of the toughest holes, if not the toughest finishing hole. 499 yards. Last night I hit a driver and a 3-wood in there. It was ten foot, by the way (laughter). That was world beating.
Q. Did you make the putt?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I didn't even bother. It's a very, very demanding hole. If you're out of bounds, if that ball is tailing left at all, if it's drawing off the left-hand side of the green, it's out-of-bounds and very, very demanding second shot when it's that length. With this rain the course will play even longer now than it would have done, so that's a very, very demanding hole. Just its pure length more than anything and of course there's danger around the green.
We know how difficult -- I don't have to tell you guys, I was watching it myself, we know how difficult it is to make a four to win. A six to win is difficult and it proved it.
Q. Sorry to go back to technical matters on the putting again. I'm interested about this accelerating through the ball. You've been saying it for a number of years and it now seems to be possibly the missing link between you taking a Major title.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Why is it that the acceleration doesn't come, if you know that you need to accelerate through your putt?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If I knew all those answers, I tell you what, I'd have won a lot more tournaments, I'll tell you. It's amazing how that knowing what to do and knowing technically what to do and it doesn't always transfer down to what you're physically doing when one's under pressure or one is in a championship of this degree.
I'll be giving it a go, and very few putts will be short this week and that's the goal of mine. I'm putting this week in a -- not in a so-called Ryder Cup mode but a match play mode, I'm thinking of every putt here as a halve. Every putt I have in a match play sense for a halve is never short; it can't be. So I'll give myself a go, I've got to. And that's what I'll be doing.
Q. Competing in this Championship over the years, have you felt both the burden of being from Scotland and trying to win so hard and having fans call for you, but also the blessing of having so many fans pull for you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As a very proud Scot, I don't feel it's a burden being Scottish, believe me. But at the same time I think it's a blessing that I have this great support. I was out there at half eight last night, and there was a huge amount of support out there just watching me go round.
Let's hope I have as much tomorrow, because it really did help me at St. Andrews, especially the third round, playing with Tiger. Going off last there was an amazing feeling for me, the warmth and support I had there. That particular day was incredible. If I can get into contention again here, let's hope I have that same feeling because it almost -- I got quite close at one stage, within a shot. Without the crowd I don't think I'd have done that.
So they really do help. I think it's a blessing, more than it is a burden. I agree with you, sometimes it can be that way too much, expectation, if you like. But on my part I think it's definitely a blessing.
Q. We've gone 24 years before The Open returned here last time and the setup was what it was. Do you think this new generation of golf fans, globally, has a true appreciation of what Carnoustie really is?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think they will after this week, yes. I think everyone's under the impression that the course setup in 1999, how can I put this as diplomatic as possible, wasn't quite right for the Championship and for the type of course that this is. This is a setup that is nigh on perfect in every way, and Carnoustie now will lose its tag of whatever it was quoted as by you guys in '99, and I think that it will be seen as what it is, one of the toughest and best links courses that we have in the world.
Q. You don't think there's a perception out there because people are reading that the rough is down, it's as it is, that it's too easy, do you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: This course is not too easy, no, no, no. Anyone whose scores break 70 around here has done extremely, extremely well and played very well, is in control of every aspect of their game. I honor anybody that -- anyone that scores 70 around here has to be commended, believe me, any day, any conditions.
Q. What about 64?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: 64 was bloody good. World beating, in fact (laughter).
Q. Do your two coaches have different functions in the same way that Phil Mickelson has a short game and long game coach, or is it a second set of eyes that you want?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think both. Another set of eyes never hurts anyone. Peter has helped me on certain tips within the swing, and Denis has been not just a coach, friend, but also on the mental side of things to prepare me to play and to keep one's confidence high. So they have different roles, and as I said I'm very happy with both the way that's working out.
Q. How do you explain the American domination of this Championship?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As I was saying, the No. 1, 2, 3 in the world are American and we have someone that has dominated this Championship and going for three wins in a row, which is -- not many have done that. Amazing that they seem to be able to adapt their games to these different conditions and adapt it very well. We used to have a more dominating position in this championship, but not now.
With the likes of Woods, Mickelson and Furyk -- you must always remember him; he's a very, very underrated player, if you like, Jim Furyk, I rate him very, very highly indeed. Those three players are always the No. 1, 2, 3 in the world, they're always the three to beat.
Q. You said many times that had someone told you in 1999 that a Scot would walk away with the trophy, you'd have said thank you very much?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'd have said thank you.
Q. This week if someone tells you a Scot will win the trophy?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We'll take our chance, but after coming off the win at Loch Lomond in 1999, which was my fourth win of the year and then someone said a Scot is going to win The Open, I said thank you, just not me. But so glad for Paul, and I wish him well again tomorrow. It must bring back incredible memories for him playing here again, and of course I wish all the Scottish players that qualified well. I just go out with my own thoughts and my own game and my own control and see what happens.
Q. When someone says Seve to you, what are the images and memories that come to mind?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I was sad, as everyone was, on was it Monday when Seve came in and announced his requirement. I think there's very few players or very few people in this world can enter a room with the presence and without even looking around, knowing that someone is in that room. And Seve had that presence. An incredible charisma and genius. I watched Seve from when I was young and an incredible genius of a talent, a natural talent. I think that's what you would remember Seve as, a natural player. The club just looked right in his hands somehow always. And that will be missed. His charisma and his presence will be missed. I wish him well.
STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts