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July 2, 2008

Colin Montgomerie


SCOTT CROCKETT: Colin, thanks, as always, for coming in to join us and welcome to The European Open at The London Golf Club. Not the same venue but the defending champion, but your thoughts going into the week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, it's obviously a very different feel, not being back at The K Club where we've been for many years for this event, but this is a whole new start here and I haven't played the course as yet. I've had a couple company days here in the past and I've certainly the course and it's proximity to London, it's a great event to have at this time of year.
We've got a great run now. The French Open obviously is a big event and this one, and then the Scottish and British, so it's a great month we have and very privileged to have that month.
SCOTT CROCKETT: After a good start to a tournament, you mentioned the French, not what you wanted, but a very good performance.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, recent form has not been good. And I felt that even at the U.S. Open, even though my scoring was very, very poor there, I thought that I was beginning to find something and feel something back in the swing.
Then in Munich the week after I played much better, and then in France, I happened to hole a couple of putts at the right time in France, which I haven't been doing which kept the score going. Let's hope that momentum can keep going for the next at least three weeks.

Q. Do you feel the fact that you -- and secondly was there a point where -- I think at Gleneagles a few weeks to go --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I've always had sort of self-doubts really, believe it or not, even in the 90s run. Having won a tournament within that run, that I felt was the last one and how can he make that not last one for the thing and how can we progress to win the thing again and how can it happen 20-odd times in that span.
But when it doesn't happen as much, you feel that, is it the last win and that's where my self-doubt comes. I never want ever to feel that, okay, that was it, that was the last win, yes, it will happen, but I'm not ready for that to happen yet.
So I do have a little bit of self-doubt. I think every potential golfer has a little bit, and I'm probably too honest. A lot of people don't say it; I admit it.
To answer your first question (laughter), no, that's not really me. But the critics, that's your right to do and I honour that you have a right to be critical. My play was very poor. As someone who is a very proud player, and the scores I was putting together were dismal to say the least. At least now I'm putting scores together. That's eight rounds now in a row that have been under par, and that's the best run I've had for a few years.
I look forward to continue to progress, and now moved up a great deal. That happened to be financially, not for any personal reasons, but for Order of Merit positions and Ryder Cup positions, financially was a very big week, and it was as good as two wins early season, if you like, at least two wins. So it was the right time and place to start performing properly.

Q. Watching the back nine on Sunday, it looked like you made a lot of birdies and some amazing saves.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, that one on 12 -- I'd be late here; I'd still be there. It wasn't just the shot out and the 7-iron on, but the putt to save it and that allowed me to move forward to the 13th hole in good position, but when I saw my ball up in the bank, there was no way to go and you probably saw me looking for a place to drop it and I couldn't. I just had to have a big, big risk and it paid off.
Also, 17, that was a good par putt, and these were the ones that were not going in. So the one on 18 was a real bonus. But the one on 12 and 17, that two shots, that's suddenly from second place on your own to sort of tied for fourth and a big, big difference. That's why putting is key as well as hitting the ball properly.

Q. You mentioned Ryder Cup points just now. In your own mind, is there a sense of urgency that you feel to get on the team and do what you've done so many times before?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, you know, I have to prove that I can compete on the European and world stage again and I haven't been proving that to myself. Last week was a big step forward in that way, moving up from fourth or whatever to 13th in the Ryder Cup standings, and a position where you've had a look at and I've had a look at a position where I want to be; and if it's not fifth, it's as close to fifth in that Order of Merit position in the Ryder Cup as possible.
So I've just got to do as well as I possibly can here and use the confidence that I mentioned that I brought up last week and continue to prove to myself that I can still do that, yeah, because I really do want to be on The Ryder Cup. I don't feel I've played my last one, and it would be a shame if I have. I think I've got at least one Ryder Cup left to play, and I'd love to be on that team. It's been part of my life since 1991, and I don't feel that I'm ready to give that up at that stage, and I look forward to competing again, of course I do.

Q. Another great ambition would be to win a major; how do you assess your form going into The Open Championship?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, you just take your chance. The door is a little open, a little wider open than it has been in the past because Tiger is not playing, very much so, and it's given a lot of players on form the opportunity of winning a major that possibly they wouldn't have felt that confident before.
So, you know, without him, someone is going to win these next couple of majors, and it's not Tiger Woods. How often can you say that?
So it has given us all an opportunity, and I'm playing in them both; and therefore, if I can continue to play well -- and this is a big week for me defending here, and then I have the Scottish Open which speaks for itself and then the British, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q. General Ryder Cup question. What gels The European Team together? What gives that you sense of camaraderie that you seem to have?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Are you trying to say that your comrades don't have that particular -- (laughter).
I think this European Tour is a very special, special place and we are very close. We are a very close unit, a closer unit than across the pond. We tend to stay in the same hotels. We share the same courtesy cars. We tend to be more of a family here than across the pond, and I think that does help the game. And when we get together, and we play for each other, as opposed to playing individually.
I think that we do really pull for each other. And that's not staged and it's not false, and I think that we recently have proven that; that we really do bond very well. The locker room is a very important place to be here. It's a fabulous place to be a part of and everybody is pulling for everyone else. I haven't been in an American locker room, I don't know what goes on there, but I must admit, ours is a very special place to be, and this tour is a very close unit, very close unit indeed.

Q. You mentioned next week, obviously a big week for Scots, I don't know if you saw Bill Locke's comment on the status of Scottish golf, he was commiserating the players in the upper echelon --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I have to, you know, stand in agreement. If you look at the facts and you look at the positions where the top Scottish pros are, it's a small country, only four and a half million, a very small country. And it's the home of golf and it's a very small country and we can't have ten people in the Top-50 in the world. It's not going to happen. Numbers game is against us. But we would like more.
This could be the first time in my memory and in living memory I think that there's opportunity of a Scot not being on The Ryder Cup Team. I've been the only one for the last three times, and it's been -- yeah, so we don't want that to happen, that's for sure.

Q. The is there a reason the amateurs don't seem to progress?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's not easy for amateurs. We've been British Amateurs and all sorts of amateur events in the past and had success, but it doesn't always transfer to the pro game, and it proves that. This pro game is a whole different ballgame compared to top amateur golf. It a different league, different ballgame all together.
I found out when I turned pro and had to learn and had to ask questions and learn my way through to get here that it's not easy, no. If it was easy, believe me, we would all be doing it.

Q. For a couple of weeks there, you weren't even the top Scot in the World Rankings. Did you feel a need to get up there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's been new, as well, for the last ten 15 years, and Alastair Forsyth, I believe was ahead of me and all credit to him and he's obviously been playing more than I have.
But it's nice to be back into 77th place in the world; great. (Laughter) But I won't be resting on any laurels there, I can assure you. I have to move forward and get back, and I was saying early, get onto a place where I feel more comfortable and certainly in the Top-25.

Q. Just a few weeks ago, were you close to thinking you might not ever win again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The U.S. Open was very poor, I was hitting the ball okay, but you feel even when you're hitting the ball well you're not scoring, so the self-doubt is even more.
You have doubts, you certainly do. That you're never going to win again, and although I didn't win last week, it felt like a win, believe me. So it can only, and has given me the sort of confident to come in here and perform, and so the World Rankings, that's a lot of points for me this particular week because I won here last -- I won this event last year, so a number of points are coming up again, so I have got to keep going here. I'm not resting on any laurels here. I have to keep performing and it's not on the World Ranking points, it's on Order of Merit points if you like to get back in this Ryder Cup Team.

Q. You said about winning here last year, but before last year, in your doom and gloom a bit similar -- do you take particular delight in doing that? Did it get harder the more times --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think 2005 was certainly coming back from somewhere that I didn't think was possible. Winning the Dunhill Links in 2005 gave me huge confidence to think that winning the Order of Merit again was possible. To do that again, that was just -- we have rebranding of The European Tour today, and to see one's name printed down there seven in a row, and then the last one down there six years later, that one meant the most by far. You just continue.
You've got -- I don't need to go down this far and have to go back again, believe me. I don't want to and I don't like it. Not having been somewhere, it's not like anything. If you haven't had it, you don't miss it. And I've had a lot of success at this game and when it doesn't happen, you really have got second thoughts. You wonder what's going on, like anything, if you don't have it, you don't miss it and I've missed it terribly and it's nice to get back into a feeling of success again at this game.
But it is harder. I mean, playing the last round last week with Lee Westwood ten years younger than me, and the winner was another ten years younger than him. So it is getting harder, there's no question about it. I'm 45 now, and you have got to dig a little bit deeper every time to get to that position. But it's nice to know that it's there and it's capable and it's nice to know that if that's the best I can do, I'll go, I'll finish and it's nice to know I'm nowhere near that yet.

Q. You said about Tiger's absence opening opportunities in the last two majors, and given your comments about the European strength in the Ryder Cup, looking forward to the PGA, is it going to be a good time for you and the Europeans going back to Oakland Hills where you gave the Americans one of their biggest-ever beatings and will that not inspire you all, as well?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think so. I think the 12 players that go back there, if all 12 are playing at Oakland Hills, I think it would inspire us all, of course. We had great success and it was our biggest win ever.
Of course, and knowing that Tiger is not playing, gives everybody a different view to the major championship, of course it does, totally. And a European has not won the US PGA since God knows when; it's been a long time. This will give us -- yeah, you pick up shots, and I'm thinking -- as I'm speaking to you, I'm thinking about tee shots and I'm thinking about the shots coming in on 16, 17, 18, and you feel it's possible, definitely. And if I feel it's possible, some other teammates will be doing the same thing.

Q. If Ryder Cup picks had to be done this week, and if you were The Ryder Cup Captain, would you pick yourself; and if so, why, and if not why, not?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because we have only got -- hypothetical questions are hard to answer -- because I would pick Donald and Harrington. Now, if it was three picks, you might think I might get selected. But I'm not the only player of so-called standing that's outside that group right now. I hope that Harrington and Donald really play well -- (laughter) -- and make their way themselves onto that team and give them an opportunity. Right now, you would have to pick Harrington can Donald ahead of me, if it were picked tomorrow.
And yes, there's a number that aren't in that you would expect to be. If you look at the Top-12 or Top-10, if you like, right now, Nick would have a real tough job right now. There's a number of big events coming up. There's two majors and a world event and a number of big events coming up, and the creme usually rises in these situations. I'm talking about Harrington and Donald and Casey and Garcia and all of these guys that are just on the fringe. If they all make the team, then yes, I have more of an opportunity.

Q. If somebody offered you second place at The Open but guaranteed to get you in position to qualify for The Ryder Cup, would you be happy with that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, of course.

Q. One more on The Ryder Cup.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Definitely, yeah. Can I take it now? (Laughter).

Q. On The Ryder Cup.

Q. Your testimony mates are in a good number of the tournaments in that competition; how important is it if you're going to make The Ryder Cup, that you go into it with a swagger, confident, and seen as the leader, rather than as just a bit player?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If I do make The Ryder Cup Team from the position I was two weeks ago, I would go into that team with confidence. I'd have to, because to play my way onto that team, I'd have had to have played well.
So that takes care of itself, in a way. There's no way that I can get on The Ryder Cup Team and go into that Ryder Cup out of form, because I wouldn't be on the team. So that takes care of itself. I have to go into that Ryder Cup as I have the last two or three times now, as a sort of on-court leader, if you like. I'll let Nick take care of everything else.
But on the course with my own partner and with what's going on in practise, I would have to take that role that I have assumed over the last three or four Ryder Cups.

Q. Did you get into slow play trouble last week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did yeah. Our group was put on the clock. I wasn't aware of the fact that we were on the clock, on the third day, I believe -- no, second day, we were on the clock, and had a very difficult shot at the 16th and because we were on the clock, through no fault on my own, what happened is my playing partners each lost a ball. So we were slow; so therefore, the group was put on the clock.
And then I had a very difficult shot on 16 and took too long to play it so I had what's known as a bad time. If I would have had one more bad time in that round, I would have had a 2000 pound and one-shot penalty but I didn't. One of those things. Unfortunately even a quick player like me can fall foul of certain shots that are difficult, yeah, and I happened to do so. If we were not on the clock, it would have been unnoticed, but because we were on the clock, it was noticed.
Is the system right? Well, that's debatable. We have to have a system, and that system is in place, and it's the best we have. But I felt that that that shot of mine would have been unnoticed if we were not on the clock -- yeah, you can go on and on and on forages about that, but I did fall foul and my first time -- I'm as quick as most out here.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much.

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