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July 8, 2009

Colin Montgomerie


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you for joining us, and welcome to The Barclays Scottish Open and to Loch Lomond, a place you know well and that's close to your heart. Just give us your thoughts going into the week and thoughts on your own game heading into the next couple of weeks perhaps.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you, Scott. My own game is coming back a bit. I had a couple of opportunities to do well last week in France. I finished poorly but at the same time it was a good effort.
So we'll just see about this week and see how we do. I've got two important weeks. I've got to claim this Order of Merit to get back into this Race to Dubai thing, which is incredible I'm not in that top 60 yet, but I will be by the end of the season. I look forward to playing here, as I always do.
SCOTT CROCKETT: And obviously ten years ago, the memories still fresh on your victory here.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A long time ago. Yeah, that was good, yeah, to come out and bogey the first and bogey the last holes, but to score 64 was a good effort to win. '99 was my best year with six wins and I'd love to emulate something like that. But as you all probably know and stats-wise, I haven't had a Top-10 for a year now in Europe, and it's about time that changed. So we look forward to trying to change it here.

Q. Ten years ago, you won here and Paul Lawrie followed up the following week.

Q. Ten years on, no Scot in the top 120 in the world. Is that a cyclical thing, and is that a concern and what's your thoughts on it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it's a cyclical thing. I think there's nothing to worry about. You see the Eisenhower Trophy team winning and a couple of doing okay out on Tour here. There are a number of Scots that are getting into position now over the first couple of days and just not finishing it off, but that comes with experience.
I think you won't be asking me that question in three or four years' time. I think it will be a big difference for Scottish golf in the next three or four years. You have to remember, there's only four and a half million of us, and considering that amount, we do very well, very well to compete on a world stage.
So I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of Scots in the Top-100 at this stage. I always go back to England; it wasn't too long ago, I think eight years ago, when there wasn't an Englishman in the Top-100, either, and now there's a number. So I think it's just coincidence that it happens to be at this stage.

Q. Based on last week's performance, how close do you think you are to recapturing your dashed dream?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I had a good practise session there again. I'm very keen to do well these next couple of weeks. This is a very important two weeks for me. I've got a couple of weeks' holiday coming up after that with the family, so I'm going to give everything I've got in the next couple of weeks to try to get into contention in both events and I'll just see what happens from then on.
My putting is coming back. I'm still making far too many mistakes, but I had 19 birdies and an eagle last week, which is more than any of the players that got into the playoff. So there's something to make from that. But I made 16 mistakes last week; 6 is too many, never mind 16. There's too many mistakes but I'm taking positives from the amount of birdies I'm making. And that means the putting is coming back, because you can't make birdies without holing a putt. I'm very positive. I know the course here as well as anyone, better than anybody, and I just look forward to this week. Always do. Always do.

Q. Frame of mind I think has been for you throughout your career. How important is it for you next week that you're playing two courses that you really like? Is that a boost for you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it is. I like the French course, and my record there has been good. And courses that you feel comfortable on and at -- and I feel very comfortable here. I feel very comfortable at Turnberry. A lot of people don't at The Open Championship because it's The Open. I happen to feel comfortable there. I'm there an awful lot with the academy based there throughout the year. I feel at home there, if you like, as well as here.
So it is. It's a confidence thing and I think that I'm just getting back into a vein of confidence, if you like, and some form. Yeah, fingers crossed, we look forward to this. I'm really looking forward to this.

Q. It may also be in your favour that in your absolute pomp, you were burdened by a very heavy week of expectation and you wouldn't even expect that at the minute.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I happened to do quite well in the Irish Open, which was the week before here, and also during this week, I spent the first seven years not outside the Top-10 here. And then I won the Irish Open three times and this one, so leading into The Open, there was a huge weight of expectation, especially when The Open was in Scotland.
Now the expectation is not the same, so I can go in somehow under the radar and enjoy next week, if you like, enjoy playing on, which we all feel is the best course in Britain and is ranked that way now and is in super condition. I think the changes in Turnberry are fantastic. It's just a shame that we haven't been there for 15 years; it's a shame. It's a fantastic setup. I was there on Monday, last Monday, and as it stands up, it looks in pristine condition.

Q. Not wishing to harp on the negatives, but you said last week you made 16 mistakes; were those mental or technical?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good. Good question, I think half of which were -- I suppose they are a mixture to be honest with you. I think you can hit particular shots, and then you think it's a mental mistake, but actually it's more technical than anything.
Mentally I'm still there with it. I think I can hit the shots the way I did. I'm going for those shots. It's just not coming off technically the same as it was, so I've been working on that over the last few days, and I've ironed out, I think, the technical problem which was the ball going left.
And if you fear something in your game going left, the confidence goes and then the mental side goes from there. I think it's all based down with me to the technical side more than the mental side, and I seem to have ironed out that. Mentally, I'm actually okay right now, which is scary.
But technically, it's not quite -- it's not quite there, but it's a lot better than it was.

Q. If you are in contention over the week at Turnberry, can you fancy a bit of Monty mania?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I was thrilled with the support I had in 2005 at The Open when I was out with Tiger on that Saturday. I'll never forget that round of golf. Mainly because I beat him. (Laughter).
But apart from that, the crowd of fantastic, and because it's Ayrshire and because it's home for me, if you like, do you know at Turnberry, I hope to get somewhere in that position to give the crowd something to shout about. But there's a few Scots in the field, more than we've had over the past few years, and let's hope that one of us can get into contention and give somebody in the crowd something to shout about.

Q. Are you working with anyone technically, regularly at the moment?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Pete Cowen helps me, mainly on the mental side really. Technically, I know what to do. It's just a matter of trying to do it physically. I know how -- I know the position I've got to get into. It's just a matter of trying to get into it from where I was ten years ago, if you like, which was swinging the best of my career. This was my fourth win of the year in '99. I had just won the PGA and Benson & Hedges, and there's a load of good wins in there. They are were not just normal tour wins, they were flagship events, if you like, in '99.
So I'm trying to get back to that. I feel I'm almost there. So it's nice to say that within ten years, I feel as confident now as I did then starting out, I really do.

Q. Do you look at video?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not really, no. There's always a weight issue, there's never a swing or technical issue, there's a weight issue, so oh, my God, I don't watch videos.
Just feel, I'm a feel player, hands, my hands tell me everything in my swing, and I feel my way through the swing; other than feeling that I have to watch a video to see where I was at the top of the swing or something.

Q. You mentioned going in under the radar.

Q. Are you ever really happy in that position or are you somebody who needs to feel that both yourself and those around you think that you're a genuine contender?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: To start the week, I think that's quite good, the practise rounds and leading up to it, because a lot of people leave all of the good shots on the course, they practise hard, and it's hard. And by Thursday, I'll treat next week as a normal week and go in and have one practise round on the Wednesday or something like that. I'll be okay unless I'm on the leaderboard and I want to be on the leaderboard as quick as possible and then it will change. But up until then I'm fine with the way things are going to pan out at the start of next week, yeah.

Q. At 46, how much is your age a plus and a minus?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. I think mid 30s, I think you'll find that Lee Westwood coming into his prime now. He's ten years younger than me; he's 36. My Order of Merits were won age 30 to 37, so it's around about that time where you tend to hit your peak. I can't honestly say you'd stay at your peak, or else Muhammad Ali would still be world champion. You can't stay at the top forever indefinitely.
But at the same time, there's been people won on this Tour older than me, and I still think there's a few wins in there some where, whether it's this week or next week or whatever it might be. So I've just got to keep going and believe in that. If I can believe that, I'm halfway there. If I don't believe it, I will never win again, so I've got to believe that I can win. And whether it's this week or whether it's down the road, who knows, but I still feel capable of winning at 46 years old, yeah.

Q. A couple of your thoughts on Turnberry. One, maybe there's a perception it's not the toughest length links if you look at the scoring, two 68s have won.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, that was a very different golf course, a very different golf course, yes, hugely different. I think they have 400 yards added onto this course. There's about six or seven brand new tees now onto that golf course. The 17th is now 570 yards, and where the 16th was a driver, wedge now it's driver, 5-iron. Very, very different golf course than the one that was played 15 years ago, or even in 1977, and also in '86.
So it's a very different course. The fairways are quite generous but do not miss them. They had a medal there. Interesting, there, they had an medal there for the members. And I know the members have not played the course for a while, but they have a medal now. About two weeks ago, they allowed the members on, 150, 150 starters. They left 480 golf balls on the golf course. Now, there's over three a player have lost, so there's 480 golf balls lying around there somewhere. That proves, although the fairways were generous, and it was breezy, that proves avoid the rough at all costs.

Q. If you look at the winners, they were all the best in the game at the time; is that a reflection on Turnberry?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is. It's a shot-maker's golf course. It's a tremendous golf course. It's a golf course I think we all would agree that it's got the most character of any links course in Britain, especially on our rota. Just a fantastic place to be. I mean, you can't -- when you stand on the 8th tee and you look out to the sea there, 8, 9, 10,11, incredible holes, stretch of holes. Just a fine, fine golf course.

Q. What do you mean by the "most character?"
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Most character because it doesn't -- one, it doesn't go straight out and straight back. Two, it's actually quite a hilly golf course believe it or not because of the cliffs over to the lighthouse. Green sizes, green depths, green design, banks, the hills, I think the dunes, it's got everything. So all in a word, I would describe it, would be character, really, yeah. Tremendous golf course.

Q. Have you found it tough, if at all, to combine playing and the captain's role?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's been going great this year. (Laughter).
I've noticed that being captain of The Ryder Cup Team that there's more behind the scenes than could I give credit for, an awful lot behind the scenes early on. I started this 17 months out and it's amazing what has to be done in that time to get everything ready for The Matches come October next year.
So yes, it has taken time and I think when I am lying 30th, 40th in the event, possibly the will has not been there to finish 20th as it used to be. If I'm in the top 20, yes, I'll stay there, but it's just getting there that's been my difficulty this year.

Q. And as far as the vice captaincy is concerned, would Sandy Lyle be a man that would come into your thoughts?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question, I met with Sandy yesterday, we had a chat. And I haven't decided as to who or what, defending on who makes the team and who doesn't make the team, and we'll select that vice captain sometime during the qualification system. But I haven't made up my mind whether we go for that experienced a player within The Ryder Cup, or you've got to think of my two captains that I selected for the Vivendi Trophy.

Q. In addition to yourself, 2005 is also a good Open for Lloyd Saltman, and he's back in next week with one of his brothers.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I was talking last year, or was it the previous year, that there was only Sandy, obviously, and Paul, who had qualified because of past winners, and myself, and I think that was almost it, four last year. And now there's a number more than that, and it's great that we have qualified and the more Scots in the field, the better, obviously.
Lloyd did awfully well at St. Andrews. He was in the Top 15 or something as an amateur player, fantastic achievement, and we wish him well again. Turnberry is a whole different ballgame than St. Andrews to play, but at the same time, we wish every Scot every success, of course we do.

Q. I don't suppose it was 480, but did you lose many balls when you played Turnberry?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I didn't. I didn't lose a ball which was good. I actually played quite well, but it's interesting, if you do miss the fairway, my goodness me, you'll find if you're out walking the practise days and on the course that it is very, very deep and very thick, and can only be worse now than it was when I played ten days ago, if you like. Very, very tough.

Q. And were you worried a few weeks ago that you wouldn't have a game?

Q. To overcome it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. It's a very long golf course now. Par 70, 7,300 yards long. It's very, very tight and tough as a par, and I wasn't making that well. That day, actually, I started finding something, started to find some rhythm, and started to feel I can compete again, which was very encouraging.

Q. Apart from the rough, there are a lot of new bunkers so presumably accuracy of the tee shot is going to be important.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's the worry.

Q. Have you thought of using 2-irons or --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There are a number of clubs, I have a two strong 2-iron which is like an old 1-iron, and for that reason you must stay out of the bunkers at links golf. You cannot compete driving the ball crooked at a links course. You cannot compete out of bunkers. They are penalties. They are a three-quarter shot penalty shot at Turnberry. There are a number of new ones. And you have to put the ball in the fairway, and you have half a chance. Doesn't really matter the length, because we are getting the run on links fairways that we don't out here.
So accuracy is vital, and if I can drive the ball well at Turnberry, I have a chance.
SCOTT CROCKETT: All right, Colin, thanks for that.

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