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August 26, 2009

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Colin, thanks for making the long and arduous journey to get here today for this Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles! Championship Chairman this week and, of course, you were helping out with your late mother's foundation, you might talk about that before we kickoff.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: My thanks first off Diageo for their support. They have a charity, dedicated charity for this event every year, and this year it's the Montgomerie Foundation, my late Mum, and we are raising money through various events on and off the course this year to build this centre in Monklands Hospital in Lanarkshire, and we realise it's difficult times. We realise the economic climate that we are in, but we are doing very well and we have got great support. We thank Diageo for their support in making this the dedicated charity for this year.
GORDON SIMPSON: What's your target figure?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Target figure is difficult to say, but it's in excess of 3 million, and so we need a lot of support from everybody. But we have that already and the support is growing. The more people that know about this foundation, the better, obviously, and it's been a superb journey so far. But only will finish when we have the Centre up and running and built on the land of Monklands Hospital in Glasgow, which will be superb.
GORDON SIMPSON: How does the support manifest itself this week then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We have a number of ways of manifesting this. We have 40-odd volunteers around the course and the club, the practise ground, the tented village here collecting.
We have Johnnie Walker, Diageo have been very kind in lending us, if you like, the Johnnie Walker Pavilion, which overlooks the 18th green for an event on Saturday night, which is all dedicated to my Mum's charity and we are going to raise money there again. There's auctions; so we're having a good evening there on Saturday. I've got David Howell helping me out which is super, one of my Ryder Cup colleagues, and we are going to have a question/answer going on there. And it will be very good, very good. I'm looking forward to it. Mike Aitken is joining us, as well, I believe, which will be super.
GORDON SIMPSON: Not Jim Black on this occasion, is it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not Jim. Jim has done his bit for the AGW. I think we are all talking about that famous speech of Jim's and we just look forward to Saturday, as well to raise as much money as possible. So it's been great support, and I thank Diageo again, they have truly been fantastic.
GORDON SIMPSON: Let's talk about more mundane matters. How is the Montgomerie golf?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Mundane. Unfortunately my golf isn't great right now. I've lost a bit of confidence. Obviously do you when you miss cuts and you don't compete, never mind contend. All I've been doing is competing, and I've got to get back to contending.
So there's no better time than to start at home, if you like. We moved in above Gleneagles Hotel here, well actually on the land back in February in a rented house when we are reconstructing Gaynor's property in Dunning and it's been home since then. I've been practising down here at Gleneagles and playing the course on my so-called days off. So it really is a home venue for me here now, and I'm looking forward to competing here, but contending here, getting into contention this week here.

Q. How does the lack of confidence manifest itself apart from actually on the scoreboard? How does it manifest itself in your brain and in your golf?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. Certainly when you're over the ball, when I used to attack a pin, especially on a left-to-right hole, I used to look at the pin sheet to start with, and any hole on the right-hand side was a gift to me. I just aimed down to the middle of the green and let it fade into the pin.
Now, unfortunately, I don't have that confidence of where it's going to go, so of course you'll be anxious, you come up off the ball too quick. You're anxious to find out where it's gone before you've actually hit it. You're looking up, you're not completing one's backswing. It manifests in a number of areas actually.
So I've just got to try today. I know it's raining and I know the weather is not great, but it's an important round of golf today where I can hopefully gain a little bit of confidence back again for tomorrow morning's start. I should have won here a couple of years ago. I was leading after two days, and was right there after three and Paul Casey came through and won well. But I should have -- I should have given him a better run than I did, and since then, it has not really been very good. So I've got to get back on that leaderboard and stay there.

Q. The field here is not what you might like it to be, and obviously everybody is at the FedExCup. When you were over there recently, did you speak to people about this and the effect it was having on this tournament?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, the FedEx is just starting, I agree. I'll talk about this year's field. I haven't made any recommendations to this field as such. Believe me, I will next year. You'll find automatically next year that No. 5 might not be safe because there's only nine selecting, so you'll find automatically No. 5 through No. 25 who will be competing here next year on The Race to Dubai list and also on the world list, with three picks, there's one more to select.
So automatically this will become one of, if not the strongest event field-wise on the European schedule next year, and a big event for the more concerned. Obviously a huge event for myself. I'll be with you on Sunday evening and we'll have a good chat after the event finishes.
But we have a lot to play for next year, and they will have a lot to play with next year. And don't talk about this year's event so much, but next year you'll find No. 5 through number 25 automatically playing here. I won't even have to ask them.

Q. I think last Thursday night after your round in Holland you were probably as downcast about your game as I've ever heard you.

Q. Was that true?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Possibly. I came into Holland, I was practising well, I had practised well and felt I could go and compete and contend. And scoring 76 around a course where there's people scoring 64 on was extremely disappointing. I always feel, whoever is leading or if there's people doing that, I should be within a couple of shots at least. And that was really a poor, poor round of golf.
I managed to get something back and score 67 the next day, but that was really a roundabout par on a very -- on a very, I wouldn't say the longest championship course that we play on; and extremely disappointing with 76, it made Friday just a round of golf to play and to try and gain some confidence. A little bit got back. But yes, you're right, I was as down beat about that performance as any.

Q. How much will the next win mean compared to all the others?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, as you're aware, I haven't been in the Top-10 for over a year now, and that hurts. So never mind winning; I think if we can get back to finishing Top-10s, get back in the Top-10 and then gain some confidence to get back in the Top-5 to get in that Top-3 and then you need a bit of luck to win. And just talk to Lee Westwood about that. You can finish second, third, fourth, whatever, but to win, you need a bit of fortune.
So let's just walk before we can run here, and aiming this week hopefully, if I can get going on Thursday morning and keep it going through the week, a Top-10 would be great this week and then we can gain some confidence for the next few weeks coming up.

Q. Alison Nicholas at the end of the Solheim Cup said that she thought Europeans were not as good as working the crowd as the Americans who really seemed to make a crowd for work for them. Do you agree with this, and what do you intend to do with your crowd down at Wales?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I watched the Solheim Cup, I did. I'm watching more golf now than I ever have before, and from next week on, my God, I'll be watching golf.
All around the world, because of course it's world points, as well, so any tournament worldwide is important for any European player.
I watched the Solheim Cup. I felt sorry for her. I thought she did a great job personally. I think she had a team that could have won for the first time on American soil in the Solheim Cup. There was one in particular, I was watching Christina Kim, is it. I wouldn't encourage that type of crowd involvement.
But at the same time, very much easier playing at home than it is away. That tournament was in Illinois where the European contingent is not that great. We have a fantastic advantage being 85, 90 per cent of the crowd will be European. I don't feel the need to get that crowd involvement behind us; it will be there already.
Having lost the last Ryder Cup, to regain it on home soil is, one, very important, and two, I think we although know the situation. Everybody there, every European supporter there will understand the situation and get behind the team 100 per cent. So I don't feel the need for the team to actually get that crowd on side.
The time that did happen in our favour was Bernhard Langer's side of 2004 where we used a certain rule that was put in place regarding autographs that the Americans were asked not to sign autographs during practise; we disregarded that rule, and as a team, signed every autograph possible, and we got that crowd, if it was 90 per cent for America, we got that crowd more for 50/50 for us, and that was more important to actually do that. Bernhard saw a gap, if you like, and walked straight through it. But in Wales I don't think that will happen.

Q. As a player, what exactly does it do for you when you've got everybody supporting you? Does it tend to not make you over-hyped or how does it work?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it can, but it's a matter of controlling that obviously. The adrenaline in The Ryder Cup, it's amazing what happens in the standard of golf, even at the Solheim Cup there was incredible. I thought the standard of golf has improved dramatically. And you see some shots hit at The Ryder Cup that you think, well, hang on a minute, this guy is under pressure and yet these shots are hit and holes and what-have-you, it's amazing. It's amazing how it works. You are helped a long by a home crowd, there's no question. It's much, much better in the crowd wanting you to hit it close than the opposite.
So I don't think there's a problem here in Wales at all. As I say, 90, 95 per cent of the crowd will be European, and that's to our advantage.

Q. You say you're going to be watching a lot more golf over the year. I heard from somewhere that you might have already penned in what your Dream Team is; is that correct?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have. I have, yes. A number of people do this, and a number of people and I think a number of press do this and a number of people do this before qualification starts. But I've pencilled 12 names and I've put it in a drawer at home. It will be interesting to see how close the team come out to that particular 12.
That's right now. That's as is right now.

Q. And obviously you're not going to tell us the 12, but are there many rookies on it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There are a few rookies on that team, yes.

Q. More than normal, perhaps?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I thought you said I wasn't going to tell you (laughing).
There are rookies on that team, yes, right now. But hey, that's the team as it stands right now. It's amazing how a year is a long time in any sport, in any life, and I think that it will be interesting to see how close it comes to that particular team. And I wish them all success.
I think it's a great opportunity for everybody to start from scratch next week in Switzerland and a great opportunity for everybody to make that team, because I can speak from personal experience, it's a fantastic atmosphere. It's our Olympic Games, if you like, and I wish everybody success to make it.

Q. How much pressure can you put on players to play here next year; it's an individual game.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yes, it is, I understand that. I will be -- there's three particular tournaments that I'd like to, I have everyone's e-mail now. I have this facility now where I can e-mail the whole Tour and I have done on a couple of occasions already, and I will be again.
One of those tournaments is the BMW Championship at Wentworth. I feel that every European that is qualified for that event should be playing in that BMW Championship, and I will be asking for that personally in my role.
The second event would be The Wales Open at Celtic Manor. I think it would do them no harm at all as a European if they win in Wales. It can do them no harm for obvious reasons.
And of course here. But I don't think I have to ask here the same. I think this is automatic, the last event under the spotlight, and trying to get in that team anyway, I mean, eight, nine, ten, 11, all of that, to come down to the last few putts. It will be an amazing event here next year, as well. But mainly the BMW tournament, the Championship at Wentworth, and also The Wales Open, The Celtic Manor Wales Open.

Q. And would winning this tournament, the last tournament next year --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It could do no harm, can it. It can do no ham. Darren Clarke was very close to making the team last year and he had won in Holland the previous week and he came here. Now, who knows, the picks might have been different if he won here as well.
So it is a very, very important week this. It's under the spotlight. It's the last event and it shows current form. And that's what we are all after is current form leading into The Ryder Cup. That's why the Americans have changed their system from a two-year system to one, as well, and that's why we are on a one-year system, as well. So it works well that way.

Q. Inaudible
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's up for grabs. It depends who wins. It depends how he wins, and I'll be watching very, very closely how these people react to certain pressures coming down the last few holes of that Wales Open and to see what I feel, if he can cope not just with that but with The Ryder Cup pressures involved which are dramatically increased from a normal tournament.
So it all depends on how that works out.

Q. Have you asked for a different date for The Wales Open, because that's been a reason a lot of the stars haven't played it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't asked for a different date. That is not my -- I can't ask for that. I can only ask for them playing within that date.
Yes, it comes after, I believe, the BMW Championship, is that correct, next year, again, but there's no reason why I can't ask them to play. I can't tell people to play. I can't ask people to play; that's for The European Tour. This is a European Tour campaign to win back The Ryder Cup, and it's a home win. It's economically important for everybody, for everybody from George O'Grady down; a home win is so important for the economy of the Tour, especially in these times. So I can only ask for them to compete to get my best 12 assembled at Celtic Manor next year.

Q. And the second question, do you think it's inevitable that your Dream Team won't be the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's not inevitable at all. Not inevitable at all. It might well be exactly the 12. Might not.
I think someone will show form. I think someone will come through. I think you're right, I think someone, whether it be somebody in their 30s or even 40s would come through and have a great, great year. I hope they do. Or, some rookie that we haven't really pencilled in would prove to come through at that time.
I moved up myself from 14th on the list, where I was in 1991, to 1990, sorry to fourth in 1991. I wasn't a Ryder Cup player in 1990 but in 1991 I managed to get in at No. 4 there. So that type of person, whoever that might be, would progress as I was doing, learning the game and progressing and becoming better, to become a Ryder Cup player. So all I can say is wish everybody, every member of the Tour all the best.

Q. If any, if any, or any, Scots in your drawer at home?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I can't tell you that at this stage. All I'm saying is I wish every Scot the best of luck to try and make that team. I'd love to be able to captain a Scot in Wales.
And I'd also like, believe it or not, I'd like a Welsh involvement as well. Forgetting Scotland for a time, I'm European now for the next year and a half, and I'm European, and it doesn't matter to me where the points come from, as long as the points come. We need 14 1/2 points, and I don't mind if they all come from Holland.

Q. I know that Padraig Harrington has not been keen to be at Wentworth the last couple of years. Given your relationship with Padraig, have you asked him to be there, would you expect to get a positive response?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would expect to get a positive response, yes. With what Wentworth is doing to their course right now, if you see the West Coast, the Burma Road Course, the changes being made, I hate to say, but there's no excuse to say why Padraig for one would not be competing in the BMW Championship next year.

Q. Padraig's said he will play....
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He's already said he would. I don't have to ask. Mark knows everything. (Laughter).

Q. Do you look sympathetically on somebody like Ian Poulter last year who didn't play here but made the team (as a pick)?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's always certain sympathetic cases, there's no question. But I can't tell people to play; I can only ask.

Q. Inaudible
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not if it's someone of that ilk that proved himself so well to be the leading points-scorer on both sides last year, Ian Poulter. But what I'm saying is I would like everybody that's in contention for these spots to be playing here next year, definitely. And I think they will automatically.
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everyone, I think we'll let Colin get ready to play and get wet, and have a good week as the Chairman. Thanks very much, Colin.

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