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December 12, 2007

Colin Montgomerie


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Colin Montgomerie to our interview area. We appreciate you spending a little bit of time with us. This is the sixth time you've been to Target. Just a couple of things, I know you're coming off a couple of good weeks of rest, a win at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China, and I know that was good with you and Mark. Maybe just talk about that, the state of your game, and we'll open it up with some questions.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, it's nice to come off a win. Thanks to Mark, really, he played very well, and let's hope that can springboard him into some action next year. Good player. We've been 54 years in Scotland waiting for that win. The rest of the home countries, if you like, Ireland, England and Wales had won it before and Scotland had never done it, and we lost in a playoff the week before and it's nice to come back after that and win, which was great, and look forward to doing quite well here.
Have I played six?
JOE CHEMYCZ: This is six.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: This is six, okay. I've done okay here. I was two shots ahead one year, but I don't know, some fellow beat me. I don't know his name. He's quite good, has potential. So he won. He'll probably win again.

Q. In light of your statement there, what do you think about the gap between Tiger and the rest of the players?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's quite wide, really (laughter).

Q. But what about the rest of the --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The chasing pack?

Q. Right.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think the chasing pack are getting better. I think the chasing pack have learnt that Tiger is not sort of invincible, if you like, but the trouble is they're getting better but the problem is, so is he. I always feel his best time was in 2000 when he held all four majors at the one time, and I think he's getting back to that level again. And who says that 2008 won't be the time that he does all four, you know? It's a remarkable achievement, and somehow you hope that this is -- one person to do it is him. Tremendous.
It's a nice era that we're in to feel that we have -- I've said this many times before, with Schumacher's retirement, sort of Federer or Tiger Woods, and it's nice to feel that we have the best -- potentially the best sportsman in the world playing golf for the first time ever, and it helps us all. It helps you guys, it helps me, it helps everyone that's connected with the game of golf. It's super to have that time that we're having right now.

Q. What was it in 2000?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's difficult to say. You'd have to ask him the question how he feels, but scoring-wise, it's amazing, I think he's almost a better putter than he was then. But as a swing, I suppose it isn't for me to say, but he's very close. Very close.

Q. I didn't want the World Cup to get away --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, please, don't let that ever get away. It was a win. It was a W, as he says. When I used to have a W, it was a wicket maiden in cricket. You guys probably wouldn't understand that at all. If I'm talking about wicket maidens, what am I talking about?

Q. Cricket.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well done. And how many runs are scored in that over if it was a wicket maiden?

Q. 108.

Q. I'm just making it up (laughter).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You see, I've lost you.

Q. Speaking of W's, I would just be curious about if a certain Boo Weekley lived up to your expectations. Any moments that you'd like to share?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Boo? I do appreciate Boo calling me sir; I like that. A lot of respect there. I have to tell him that I'm not my father, I'm me that he was talking to.
He's a character. Apparently was up a tree when he got the call for the World Cup from his partner, Heath Slocum. He got the call, but they played college golf together; is that right? Or high school. He was up a tree trying to kill something (laughter).
He's a character, Boo. I'll tell you what, Boo can play golf. Boo is very good. Boo is excellent, and he's got that complete laid-back attitude that is superb for this game. He doesn't seem to care. It's amazing how many putts go in when you don't seem to bother, and that's him.
How many times have you guys played in rounds, and the guys out there today that -- oh, it doesn't matter, and it goes in. Well, it's the same for him. He's very good, a good ball striker. He's one of the best ball strikers that I've played with on the U.S. Tour. Good guy, good guy, and I'd expect Boo to be -- if he ever comes down out of his tree, he'll be able to play in the Ryder Cup. I think he'd be a good Ryder Cup player. I think he'd be a good teammate because of that relaxed nature of his. Good player.

Q. You had heard what he said to Lawrie at Loch Lomond?

Q. Any moments like that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, we never had any moments.

Q. He knew who you were, though, so that's good.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yes, he knew who I was, which was good. But nothing against Paul Lawrie, but he knew who I was, which was great. I was thrilled about that. He's something else, Boo. He's a good player, a good ball striker, and that's what I like to witness.

Q. How are you sort of feeling ahead of '08? You obviously seem pretty relaxed in here.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Fine. I've got a big year ahead obviously. Obviously there's a marriage in April, again, so we'll see. That's a big time in April after The Masters, and it's a big year. Obviously I've got to get my act together in playing terms to get back into the Ryder Cup scene, if you like, and I'd like to participate again. I've played in the last eight and I'd like to make that nine.
The standard is improving all the time and I'm getting older, so it's more difficult every year to try and qualify for that event. But there's so much else going on, and yet again, it will be a very busy, busy year. So I look forward to it.

Q. You seem very just happy generally at the moment. Is it rubbing off on your game a little bit?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I am. I'm taking a leaf out of Boo's book, really. We should all learn from a bit of Boo. I won't be climbing trees, mind you, and I won't be killing anything from there, but yeah, I'm relaxed as I can be, yes.

Q. (No microphone.)
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I've lost him completely. You see, I realize the wicket maiden threw them earlier on.

Q. (No microphone.)
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If it's a maiden, that means there's no runs scored within the over of six balls. And if it's a wicket maiden, that's very good. That means a fellow took a wicket and had no runs scored off an over, so that's very good. So that's a W as opposed to an N.
Look, the scoring in cricket would throw you guys completely. Scoreboard in cricket is an art form. It's an art, it's a table, and it would confuse you. We have tea, lunch and tea breaks, and we come out on these drinks breaks, tea breaks. We used to stop in wars and have tea, as well. We don't do that anymore (laughter).

Q. Cricket is now an Olympic sport so we'll all have to --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's not an Olympic sport.

Q. 2020 they just said yesterday.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You see? So there you go because there's a Cricket World Cup, although the U.S. don't really play the game, but by 2020 you'll have cottoned on and gotten quite good.

Q. You mentioned golf would benefit from Tiger if he were to go on and win all four in one year. Now let's say he passes Jack's record, gets to 20, 22 majors, just says, I've done it, I've had enough, I'm done with this sport. What happens with golf if Tiger gets to that point and walks away from two or three years?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we just hope that there will be somebody else that would come through. There's no one of that ilk right now. Tiger is unique, very much so. Everyone says, oh, the next Tiger Woods and stuff, but there's only one of him right now.
As I've said many times, the standards improve all the time and people are beginning to work on every aspect of the game. You see the lifestyle and the rewards available to potential great players, and they're working harder at it and for it, and that's great for the game, to have someone that people look up to. I'm sure it's the same as tennis, that people have watched Federer and copied him, and I'm sure people are doing the same with golf, for Tiger. Best of luck to them, but there's only one of him.

Q. Everybody else has said that if he weren't here -- players have said prize money would go down 40 percent if he were to walk away from the game. Do you believe that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, he's yet to -- how many majors has he won, 13? He's got six to go to get to 19. I know there's 20 at Nicklaus, but the two of them were Amateurs. If you include Tiger's three U.S. Amateurs, he's 16, so he's only got sort of five to go. I don't think Tiger will be walking away. He's only 30. Why should he walk out is a question for him, really. I don't know. Why should he walk away, just keep going and make sure that no one ever gets anywhere close again because these majors are very difficult.
I'm living proof that these majors are quite difficult to win. In fact, yes, I am living proof that these majors are difficult to win. I've been quite close a few times, and they're not easy. That's why the rewards are so great if you do happen to win, because it is bloody difficult to do it. All credit to him if he does it. I think he will do it personally, and it would make for a fantastic, fantastic achievement if it ever is broken in this modern era. Then it's up to him what he wants to do with the game.
But I'm sure the game will be in great hands. The Tours are that strong right now that with or without him we'll go forward, but much better with him.

Q. A couple years ago you recovered from some stuff off the course and have done remarkably well and got to six, eight in the world?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I got to eight again, yes.

Q. The goal at that point was to keep it there and keep going forward, and here we are again, struggling to get back to the Masters. What's happened with you and has you going back in the other direction?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, just hasn't happened. I've putted particularly poorly those last two years. I won the Order of Merit in 2005 and I was eighth in the world. Now I'm 50-something in the world, and it's far too low. I've putted particularly poorly these last two years, 2006 and 2007. I've missed far too many putts that the competition are holing, and I've got to get back to putting -- it's just a couple of putts a round. It's nothing untoward, but that's eight shots a tournament. If you take eight shots off of every tournament I play, I'm winning four or five a year at least. I've got to get back to holing putts again better than I have over the last two years.

Q. (No microphone.)
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I have to putt better than I used to. I could get away with putting average and win, but not now. The standards have improved. I've got to putt well to win now.

Q. Can I get your thoughts on the season-ending tournament in Dubai, the Chase for Dubai?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, yes, you can. It's marvelous for us, in so-called Europe. It's not Europe, Dubai, but at the same time it's the European Tour and it's great for us to have our end-of-season event as big if not bigger than the one here, if not bigger than the FedEx Series, if you like, within one tournament. I think it's fantastic that that's happened and Dubai have put their money behind us in Europe. And it's a great place to be in October-November time when the weather is fantastic over there and the courses are as good as any, and it's a lovely place to be.
I have my own course there, and we're spending Christmas over there myself, and it's a wonderful spot, Dubai. It's great for the European Tour to say that we have the biggest purse in the world, and that includes here, which is fantastic for us to say that. All credit to everyone involved.

Q. You play with amateurs of all different abilities at events like this --

Q. Have you got a golf tip that you think would help most of them, most of the players like us out there, like today, that would apply basically --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm off shortly, I'm off in 15 minutes off the first tee, and there will be not one amateur, not one amateur that I'll ever tell to quicken up his swing, okay (laughter)? They will all swing the club far, far too fast and therefore not finish their backswing and therefore go right. And most amateurs off the first tee hit the ball right because they're anxious to find out where it's gone before they've actually made contact, and they're looking for it.
If you look for it and you're anxious, you're quick, your head is up and it goes right. Odds on, if you watch me, the first tee today, of the four amateurs today, three of them will hit the ball further to the right than they think they will off the first tee because they've been too quick. That's a tip.

Q. Can you think of any tip in your career that has resonated particularly with you and has helped your game?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Light hands on the putter. Everybody tries to strangle the putter, and you can't complete -- again, the same thing, you can't complete the backswing if you're strangling the putter. You've got to have loose hands, light hands on the putter and let the putter flow freely. If you do that you have a chance. Most people strangle the putter and the stroke doesn't happen when you're far too tight on the grip, or as some amateurs would call it today, a handle.

Q. Who did you hear that from, do you recall?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think Bill Ferguson, my boyhood coach, if you like, in Yorkshire told me that. Especially left-to-right putts, if you strangle a left-to-right putt, it's going to go left to right. You've got to let the putter flow freely. It's amazing how light our grips are on the putter compared to the amateurs.

Q. I'd be curious about one thing. There's a couple of young players that are getting some attention. One is Jason Day down in Australia who was quoted recently as saying he's coming after Tiger, he wants to be No. 1, he's sure Tiger knows who he is, he seems to be very sure of how good he is. The other one is Rory who seems to be grounded and making his way through Europe one step at a time. Which is the better approach do you think if you have talent?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We all want to be No. 1, don't we? I did, I got to No. 2 to Greg Norman back in '96, '97, and I wanted to be No. 1. It just didn't happen. But at the same time, we all want to be No. 1. So you start off by saying, yeah, I'm coming after Tiger. Well, bring it on, you know? It's a difficult ask.
There's a guy out here that I really admire, Anthony Kim, who's got great potential I feel here out on this Tour, and I think that he'll be -- I think that that will be his year, 2008, to come through, if you like.
But there's a number of people, there's a number of people, Rory included. He's made a fantastic start to his professional life and no doubt could make our Ryder Cup team in 2008, and he's remarkable. In his rookie year he doesn't seem to fear anything, which is great. It goes back to Boo, really, doesn't it? Everything just goes back to Boo, which is where it should end, really, on Boo (laughter). It started on Boo and it should really end on Boo. I think Boo is fantastic.
But no, he seems to have his head on his shoulders, as you say, and doing the right thing, but a good player. There's no excuse for talent. You can't get around that.

Q. Just a quick one based on what's gone on with you and Nick Faldo. Could you imagine a situation in 2008 where you weren't on the Ryder Cup team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yes, of course, if I don't qualify.

Q. How would you feel personally about that, being so tied with the tournament?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wouldn't lose any sleep over it, I'd just make sure I qualified in 2010. Simple as that, really. It's just one of these things. If it doesn't happen, I'm nowhere near it now because I made a particularly poor start to the qualifying situation, but I know if I play well in 2008 I'll qualify.

Q. Historically you've earned a captain's pick on the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's difficult. I've had one pick out of my eight. I've qualified seven times. I didn't make it in 2004. Langer picked me in 2004, which was -- I suppose Donald and I were the sort of favorites, and that was a set thing. Even if I get to 12 or 13 on the list or whatever the case may be this year, or 2008, rather, well, I might get picked again. Nick knows the situation and he's aware of it, and so am I.

Q. You spoke a few moments ago about the putts that have got away over the years. What is it about the Ryder Cup that seemingly you hole everything in sight?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I've putted well in the Ryder Cup over the years. I think that I have an idea about match play compared to stroke play, that you do tend to hit the ball slightly firmer in a match play situation. Every putt you have in match play is either for a halve or for a win. You're not putting for a loss. It's almost got to get there.
I think I've been a little bit negative in my own stroke play over the last two years, a little bit frightened, a little bit negative, and I've got to get rid of that negativity in my game and get more positive the way I am in the Ryder Cup, almost having the mindset this is for a halve. You're putting for a halve, it's got to get there. There's no point in leaving it short if it's for a halve.
That's what I've got to get into the mind, and it's a mind battle; the whole game is. That's where it's back to Boo. He's one up on us already.

Q. Given the importance of unity within the European camp and the role it's played in recent Ryder Cups, how concerned are you with the recent public governances within the camp by the captain, and do you think that there's a possibility that that might upset the balance of the ambiance within the camp which has been so important in the past?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. It has been very important the last ten years of our success in the Ryder Cup, that we've had that -- Nick is his own man. He's a very, very individual man. Let's hope that that ambiance, as you say, remains through 2008. It's got to. It's got to because the Americans have already changed their schedule. They've now put the Ryder Cup -- the TOUR Championship after the Ryder Cup to give the whole Tour a week off before the Ryder Cup. They changed their qualifying system so now they've got four picks, which I think has to be a stronger team than only two picks.
The same thing happened again in 2006. There was three people won their singles in 2006, there was Tiger and the two picks. The two picks are the strength of the team in my opinion. So to have four picks would be even stronger.
So the American team will come out -- they don't like -- who likes losing, but no one likes to lose four times in a row; three times is bad enough. Especially at home, and Paul Azinger being as tough a competitor as he is will have this right down, and I think this will be as tough a Ryder Cup as we have ever, ever played in a competitive way.
So let's hope the ambiance of our European team remains as it has done throughout that time, that success of our team, meaning that we go in there relaxed, we go in there as a team.

Q. How recently has that happened?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not at all, no, not at all. I've spoken to Nick and it's fine. It doesn't concern me. But we must keep that ambiance, as you say, that team spirit which has been so vital to us over the last success of our Ryder Cup team intact.

Q. Do you think Boo will make the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Boo, well, I think Boo will make it, provided he's not up a tree somewhere and he plays enough. If Boo plays enough, Boo is good enough, Boo will make the team. He'll be in the top eight. He's good. I like Boo.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Colin, thank you. Appreciate it.

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