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May 13, 2009

Colin Montgomerie


RODDY WILLIAMS: I'm sure there are a couple of things you'll be asked about today, Colin but thanks very much for coming in and joining us. If we can kick off with a few comments from yourself about competing here at the 3 Irish Open at Baltray, a little bit of wind out there, a nice links course. I'm sure you'll enjoy the challenge.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: One day we'll come here and we'll find great weather but unfortunately not today. Let's hope the week's forecast isn't quite as bad as they say. It's going to be quite breezy obviously but the course is playing well.
It's the first time I've played the course, and it's a good one. It's a very traditional links course, and will prove a very stern test. And we look forward to competing. We are very fortunate to have a new sponsor in this it financial world that we live in, and we're very fortunate to have 3 as a title sponsor here in Ireland, and we look forward to having a great tournament.
RODDY WILLIAMS: You've played a lot of links golf all over the place, how does the course here compare.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As I say, it's a very traditional links course. Nothing changes, really. There's a couple of new tees obviously out there for length, but as from the second shot in, this course has not changed for many, many years. You can see that, and there's a reason, because it's stood the test of time. It's a very good one.
With an east wind blowing, I'm sure that's not the way the course was designed because usually we have a southwest wind blowing here so with an east wind it's an opposite direction, so some holes are very much more tricky than they would be normally.
In saying that, it's a challenge and I look forward to playing with Rory tomorrow. I'm playing with Rory McIlroy tomorrow, and also defending champion, Richard Finch, and looking forward to it.
RODDY WILLIAMS: You had an interesting evening last night, as well.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, we had a long evening last night. We finished around nine-issue, started at half five and that was a good meeting we had. It was a good discussion, good debate and chaired very well by Thomas Björn I must admit. He chairs these meetings very well and we had good, lively debate, and that's what it's about.

Q. Was it long and lively because you were asking for more than three wildcards?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no, it wasn't for that particular reason. There was a lot of other debate. That was point seven on the agenda, and there were six major points before that.
I didn't ask for more than three picks, no. I asked for an opportunity to apply for a change in the qualifying process for The Ryder Cup, and I suppose I succeeded in my wish. I wanted to get three wildcards and in the end, I got what I wanted, yes.

Q. Padraig said this morning that you having three wildcards won't make it any easier?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I'm not saying it's going to be any easier. I think the easy option would be to qualify as all 12. That would be the easiest way. I wouldn't have any picks at all, wouldn't I.
The more picks you have, the more difficult it can be, but at the same time, I'm not too worried about that difficulty. I'm just concerned about getting the strongest team available to me, and that's the goal. And having one more option might just allow me to do that.

Q. Was the debate over whether to take the extra pick from the World Rankings list?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, the debate wasn't over that. That was set that if there was a pick, an extra pick, it was going to come out of the World Rankings to allow the players who support The European Tour the opportunity of qualifying for the team. I think that's only right.
It does encourage European players, European-born players, obviously, to compete here, and does encourage the top players to play in the top tournaments, and that's what we have to do. We have to recognise the economic world we are in right now, and we have to be very respectful of all sponsors, more so than ever we have before. We understand how fortunate we are.
So that wasn't an issue at all. That wasn't a debate.

Q. Was there any opposition to three wildcards? Who persuaded who?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There was debate. There was debate as to, well, you know, why having only lost one match do we feel we have to change; of course that was a question.
But at the same time, I've always felt that the more options you have in life, the better you are. I didn't want to have the scenario of the possibility of three of my so-called nucleus of the team, three of them, and only having to pick two.
So I have an option here, more of an option, to negate that situation, if and when it happens.

Q. Did you feel that as the committee had named you captain, they put you forward, and not the other way around, it was their duty, therefore, to back you as captain of what you wanted?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There was a definite possibility of that, definitely, yes. I think that I'm glad that I have the respect of the committee there. The decision was fairly unanimous.

Q. A few of the people we spoke to this morning made the point that losing one off the World, that person would probably make the team, anyway.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Could well do. The picks have come in the past from the World Ranking side of things rather than the Order of Merit side of things. It just gives me the option to see who that particular player might be, whether it be an experienced player or whether it be a rookie or whether to see how the team is balanced in the fact of how many rookies I have to experienced players. It just gives me every option that I was asking for.

Q. You're playing with one of your potential rookies tomorrow, and he said this morning that the Ryder Cup is an exhibition, not the same level, perhaps as majors and tournaments; do you think he's maybe in for a bit of a surprise?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sorry, I don't -- we are not talking about Richard Finch, no, okay, that's fine, but Richard is a very fine player and defending champion.
No, Rory will understand when; and it's not an if, I'm sure it's when, whether it's this time or next time wherever it might be and he will be a Ryder Cup player and he will understand the pressures involved and the whole scenario of The Ryder Cup will hit him very hard, yes, and he'll understand having not played in it and having not attended The Ryder Cup as yet, in his life, and he'll understand what it's about when he's part of that.

Q. Would he be picked today if he were not on the team and you had to pick him?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That is hypothetical, and very good try, though. (Laughing).
It's great to be able to say that I'm sure that Rory will be a Ryder Cup player in the future.

Q. Would you speak with him beforehand about what to expect?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If he's qualified and if I've -- or I feel that or he necessitates a pick, I would definitely speak to every player that is in that position as to what to expect as to how to go around things, yes.
I want this campaign to be very open, as I've e-mailed all members of the Tour and Challenge Tour and every European Tour, every European-born Member of the Tour recently to tell them of that fact, that I will be open to every comment from them, and they will know exactly, hopefully beforehand, what's happening within any discussions or any issues that are brought up within The Ryder Cup.

Q. The Americans seemed to finally understand it wasn't an exhibition last time and won by playing like the Europeans?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The Americans seem to have got the hang; the Americans last time played like the Europeans, yes. And in every way, performed on and off the course like the European teams of the last 15 years, 16 years.
You're very good, you are. You're excellent. The Ryder Cup is not an exhibition. No, that's not -- no, please, that's not saying that Rory -- I haven't heard what Rory said, so please don't start a big war against Rory McIlroy.
He's a great player and he's a very exciting player and he's one of Europe's best young talents that we've had for many, many a year, right. All I can say to you is you ask me, is the Ryder Cup an exhibition, no, it's not an exhibition, all right. So please don't say, and hopefully, that it won't come from me, that Monty and Rory are having a war here. Please don't say that, because I haven't said that, and all I've said is The Ryder Cup is not an exhibition and it never will be.

Q. Do you regard it as the pinnacle?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The Ryder Cup is a very unique, special event, and it's something that we as European Tour players, it's part of something that when you have played in it, you want to be there again and again.
When I started in 1991 playing in it, there was no way that I would like to have missed out in playing in that tournament again. It's a very unique occasion and a very exciting occasion for everyone to be involved with. And no more so than being captain of it, and I think that everyone will -- having had played in it, understands that.

Q. Is it more pressure than a Major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Much more, because you are playing for your teammates, you are playing for the other 11 teammates on your team, and that's the hardest thing. Normally you're just playing for yourself obviously.
But when you are playing for someone else and someone else is encouraging and you wanting you and needing you to do something, it's the hardest thing, so yes, of course it's more nerve-wracking than having to play on your own.

Q. You said you never wanted to play another Ryder Cup after your match with Mark Calcavecchia?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, he didn't, and I didn't after that particular game, but no, you want it more when the qualifying starts, it's amazing how people will be looking at lists. You guys will, I will, we all will be very interested in who is doing what, where, when; and then we are three picks, of course, it gives me an option to see how the landers land regarding experience and youth and who is in and who is not, and it gives me another option to pick the team that I would like to have that.

Q. Was the vice captaincy situation re solved?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There have been no vice captain that is have been announced. José Maria Olazábal would love to be able to participate in The Ryder Cup, and I respect that from him. If he doesn't manage to compete for want of injury or his playing standards throughout this year, then I'm sure he'll be helping, but that's as far as we've got with regard to vice captains at this stage.

Q. You are obviously very passionate from the early stage about the captaincy; is there any sense that it's consuming you to the point where your game is suffering?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. I don't think so, no. I've just -- I haven't actually played very well this year. Now, that's nothing to do with the fact that with this particular job I'm busier than I have been. I've always been quite busy, and I've always put a lot of pressure on myself to compete, and it just has not happened this year unfortunately.
The year is very young. We are only into May. The bigger tournaments are coming up now, starting here n, in prize money, anyway. And I'm looking forward to the next four weeks through Wales, and then there's a break, there's an automatic break for the Tour because Austria has now moved away from its date before the U.S. Open, so we will take either where we are after the Celtic Manor Wales Open, believe it or not, and we will take stock there.
I hope having qualified for the U.S. Open, look forward to going there, but it just has not happened. I haven't hit enough fairways this year, my putting has been much better than as it was, and I just haven't been able to hit enough fairways; and therefore, get in the wrong position from then on. If I can hit the fairways, I'll score. I just haven't managed to do that.

Q. So is it a case that it's become more important to you than playing, winning in Celtic Manor would be one of the pinnacles of your career as captain.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, definitely, definitely, it would be the greatest achievement I have managed to achieve in my career, and I'm working towards that. But at the same time, I'm still a competitor, and I'm still competing out on Tour and I still want to win.
That's the goal at the start of every week, and it's the same here. I really want to win here, and I want to do as well as possible.

Q. If your present game doesn't improve between this time now and next year, would you envisage taking a break and focusing solely on the captaincy?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Again, hypothetical, I hope I'm not in this position, I hope I'm not in the lowly position that I am now in the rankings next year, but we'll have to have a look at it.
But the reason that I was selected as a captain was because we felt that we needed a younger player, someone that was playing on the Tour, to captain The Ryder Cup Team. And that's one of the main reasons I was selected.
So I won't be stopping playing, no, no. I'll be playing as much, if not more, than I have this year, next. I want to be out here. I want to see. I want to hear everything that's going on on the Tour and I want to understand everyone's views out here, and that's the only way I can do it is actually by playing with these guys.

Q. Do you have any idea how many vice captains you would like to have?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We have a contract now between the captain and Ryder Cup Europe, and it states there are a minimum of two. So that's all I can say at this stage is a minimum of two. But you'll find that it's more than that.

Q. Sandy's performance in the Masters?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I thought Sandy's performance in the Masters was fantastic and has been the last three years. Sandy, fantastic achievement. He's been 50 now for that three years, and I think it's been fabulous that he can go there at 50 and make the cut three years in a row, whether it's enhanced his chances or not, I'm not sure at this stage, but to compete at that level; I just hope he comes over and obviously he's exempt for the Open still as a past winner, and he'll be playing at Loch Lomond no doubt. And he'll be playing a few tournaments through there and I'll have a chat with Sandy when he's around and let's hope his game is as encouraging as it was at the Masters.

Q. It looks like if you take the World Rankings as the stronger, you're allowing yourself stronger players from the European list?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that depends if you think the World Rankings is the stronger table. What happens a lot of times is that these players duplicate on both lists. If you gain a lot of world points, you tend to gain a lot of money and vice versa.
So it is duplicated. All that's given me is I have one more option, and I will take, as I've said, I will take it, if it is off the World Rankings, that tends to come from experienced players. If I find that off the Order of Merit, which is usually more of a rookie-type of situation, and there are enough rookies on the team, I will go and head for experience, because I know myself that experience in The Ryder Cup is a vital, vital point to have within our team.
So I think that it depends entirely on how the team is shaping up as to what I do.
RODDY WILLIAMS: Colin, Ryder Cup is a long way off, but now you have the 3 Irish Open. Thank you very much for your time.

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