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September 26, 2009

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, just what you said, how good has it been this week doing this particular role out on the golf course.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's been different. It's been extremely different for me. It's the first tournament I've actually ever come to that I never played, which is peculiar. Very strange, because when I was captain of this team, of course I was playing captain and so we've made that differently now and that has been very much a positive that the captains are non-playing captains. And I think it's only right, I think it will go on from there in that the current Ryder Cup Captain of the time selects the two captains. I think that's worked well and it gives me an idea about how Paul and Thomas are getting on for obvious reasons for next year.
And I must admit, I must give them both a huge amount of credit. Paul has taken to this like a fish to water, incredible. And Thomas I've known about anyway, his passion for the competition. So all credit to both of them. They both come out of this with flying colours.
As regards the teams, all credit to Britain, really, Britain and Ireland. I think they have done very well. I think it's been fortunate in some ways that Graeme and Rory have played together, and then he has eight English players that he can match quickly and readily, because I think they know each other very well and they all bond easier as a team, being from the one country, if you like, than The European Team having to blend Italians with Danes and Danes with Swedes and Swedes with Spanish.
So it's been more difficult for Thomas in that way than for Paul, but Paul's got the best out of his team and at the end of the day it's about how the players play. And so far, the GB&I Team have played the better golf. They were better at the fourball. They kept two balls in play.
And today, I felt that some of the pairings, Anders Hansen and Molinari pairing were freer in the fourball than they were in the greensomes. You see them not hitting the ball quite as hard as they were the last time and it's amazing, back to foursomes from the drive, if you like, the greensomes, that it becomes slightly less positive than it is if your partner is in there close anyway.
But Thomas needed that last point there today. Alvaro hit a great shot at the last to within four foot, fantastic tee shot, first up after Simon Dyson's good tee shot.
So he has an opportunity to get in here. If he can get in 3-1 this afternoon and only be 10-8 behind, he has an opportunity. Anything less, anything more of a gap than that is becoming a lot more serious, because, of course, there's only ten singles anyway, The Ryder Cup is 12, so you have more of an opportunity to make up ground but with only ten singles he has to stay within my opinion two of the lead.
So if he can get out of this today somehow, if he can win this next series of matches, the foursomes 3-1, he has an opportunity. Anything less than that, I'm afraid the GB&I Team are hot favourites.

Q. Can you just go through Paul's strengths and what you've been particularly impressed with?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He has, really, had everything written down. His team meetings have been exceptional. He has given players who were left out this morning, so-called rested, which is a horrible term, because some of them aren't tired. He's worked as a psychologist, as well, and used that resting in a positive way in front of his teammates, which is key. He's really taken this on board very much, and I've been very impressed with him.

Q. You'd love to have him next year, wouldn't you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would, indeed, yes, I'd like to have both of them. I think Thomas has huge respect of the players as our Tournament Chairman and has also done a marvellous job. His team haven't performed the way they can for him. I mean, I must admit, Tom Kite did a great job in '97, and so did Tom Lehman do a great job in 2006; unfortunately, you know, for their sakes, and the jobs they did, their team didn't perform for them. So sometimes that happens. Nothing against Thomas this week at all if it goes GB&I's way.
But in saying that, you play as well as you can and allow to play, and the GB&I Team have actually played the better golf from what I've witnessed. I've also witnessed that I'm an I buggy for the first time watching games, and I've also witnessed myself, and I'm taking notes out there myself, that I need a lot of help out here for The Ryder Cup. I'm not, on my buggy, I'm not seeing as much golf as I thought I would and could, as one man trying to watch four or five games at the same time. I can't be in these positions at the one time.
So the times I've been in the studio for SKY Sports, I've seen an awful lot more golf there because it switches to every game. So I watch an awful lot more golf in that situation than I do on the golf course. It's very difficult to watch golf on the golf course.
So I need not just the two helpers next year. I need a minimum of four. I've already put that to the Tour and they have accepted that; that I need a minimum of four helpers here because I need someone with every game, at least, and then I can oversee them. But I can't be in three places at one time.

Q. You've decided that this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have. It's the first time I've actually bug he'd around the golf course in my life to try and watch games, and I'm learning myself here, as well, and it's been a great experience for me personally, and for the sake of The European Tour, to try and regain this Ryder Cup.
And I need -- I've realised I need help, yeah. Help with viewing and help that I can trust in saying who is doing what and where and when. I cannot be in three places at the one time. I can manage two, but not three.

Q. Is it official that Thomas and Paul will be two of your vice captains now, can you say that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, no, not at all. I'm giving them every opportunity to qualify for the team.

Q. But if they don't?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's not official at all. I have been very, very impressed with what they have been doing. Not at all. Not at all. I'm saying I've been very impressed with them. I thought I would be. That's why I put them in that position, and they are. They have been exceptional.
Both of them, but I must say to you now, that they are determined, as anyone is out there, to make the team on their own merit. That was the issue with Paul McGinley having to re-sign his vice captaincy role from Nick last time; that he felt somehow through the year that he wanted to still play. And I can understand that, because I miss it this week, as well. I miss getting up in the morning not having that buzz of actually playing and competing and knowing who I'm going to play against and with.
There is a buzz about that and I've missed that this week myself, especially the first day, I got up and had to put a suit on because I was on television (frowning). That's very strange to come to a golf tournament and put a jacket and tie on in the morning, very strange. That's the role that I have taken on and it's different, but I'm really, really enjoying it myself (smiling).
This is good. And we've been very, very lucky. I think the golf course has lent itself to match play. We have never had match play on in course before. I think it's lent itself marvellously to match play and the crowds now on Saturday have come out, fantastic, the good crowds as well, and the weather has made that. We have been very fortunate with the weather at this time of year and this could have been very different and we have been very, very fortunate. And the new sponsorship from Vivendi has been tremendous, I think they have upped the whole thing from hotels to transport for the players to the whole scene here. I think it's been a marvellous event for all concerned.

Q. Have you seen any Ryder Cup pairings from this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Pairings, no, not in that particular sense. I've seen players play under pressure in a match-play sense that I've never seen before. Now, whether that in a pairing sense, not in that sense; individually. I'm looking at them more individually still, how they are performing with a partner and how they are performing within themselves, within that team. And I've been watching certain players and, in fact, all 20, and I have been impressed, the standard of golf has been very, very high, as it always is in these events.

Q. Just going back to Paul, you've said you've got an open mind over the captaincy and you're learning; is there anything you've learned from Paul over the last 48, 72 hours?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He's been very, very thorough, very thorough. Of course I would be that way. He's a very similar mind-set to me in these matches. He's extremely keen to keep his record going. He's played twice, two of these, and he's won them both. He's played three Ryder Cups, he's won them both, as well. So he's got 100 percent record in team golf. And I think that he's been extremely thorough in everything he's done. And that goes along with me. Everything he's done; he's brought Des Smyth's old caddie is a driver for him. He's got the whole thing done. He's paid for that himself. He's been 100 per cent thorough, and as has Thomas, as has Thomas, I must admit. It's just unfortunate that Thomas's players have not performed for him.

Q. Just going back then to the teams, have you been surprised or happily surprised at the way the players who have turned up have thrown themselves into it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so, very much so. They have been given a great opportunity, these seven or eight players that are here because of the situation of illness and FedExCups and tired and all the sort of situation that goes on.
The players that are here have been given a grand opportunity to impress everybody, and so far, they have. I think I've been very impressed. Molinari has impressed me very much. I haven't seen much of him play. I haven't seen much of Chris Wood play before, either, and he's been extremely, extremely good. That's the third win in a row for him. And he and Ross Fisher are going out -- is he the only one now with three out of three, Chris Wood. And he's a charming man, very laid back, and obviously he's one that I'm watching closely.
The Anders Hansen/Molinari pairing, although just came up short today, did brilliantly the first two days, as did Simon Dyson/Oliver Wilson. I thought that was a great pairing, the two of them, until they came up just shy today.
Alvaro Quiros has played much, much better this morning than he has the first two days. I think greensomes, I think his partner helped him there with Miguel Angel, I think that was the experience that he required, especially in a greensome competition. And you'd have Alvaro in any greensome competition. Miguel was hitting shots in there from positions he had never, ever dreamt of being in so far down the fairways, and they did extremely well. (Laughter).
And all credit to Alvaro for hitting such a fantastic tee shot in there for putting pressure on the British to go for it in two, and of course they 3-putted.
Thomas needs 3-1 minimum this afternoon.

Q. Just a thought maybe on Rory, who seems to like to go out first.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think he's a very quick player, likes that position already at 20 years old (smiling). I've noticed that the two games he's played out first, he's won, and the one he was so-called hidden in in third place, he lost. There is a mind-set there, a definite mind-set there with Rory. He has good foil in Graeme McDowell with him.
Rory is an outstanding talent, and our brightest star in European golf right now, and it's great that he's here and performing. He's taken the biggest crowd with him, and he's off first again, and it's only right. I think he's two or three holes ahead of the next group, and he gets on with it, and I like players like that, I get on with it myself like that.
I always said I wasn't sent out first for any other reason; I was the fastest player and I wasn't going to hold up anybody. And I think that's great, especially the first morning, nerves flying around, and he was out in two hours, two minutes, the front nine, which is exceptional for fourball. And he should be around in afternoon, depends what the result is, but he should be around in about three, 3 1/2 hours which is only right for a foursome game of golf. Nice to see. He's a breath of fresh air, Rory.

Q. How valuable is it, this tournament, for those people who may then go on to play in The Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's interesting to see that Fernandez-Casta├▒o yesterday felt that that was the most pressure he's ever felt on the golf course over a 12-foot downhill putt. He had to 2-putt. He 2-putts to win the hole. And the end of the day, he just managed it.
But, that's the most pressure he's felt on a golf course. That's what we want from this. This is the exercise that I'm looking for, personally. He probably wasn't looking for that amount of pressure (chuckling), but that's what I'm looking for, to see how people handle that particular pressure. He hit a great 5-iron down there and a good 2-putt and he was the only one out of the four to make par. That's the beauty of that last hole. I'm afraid -- it's a shame they couldn't change the hole around and make it No. 16 or something so it could be played more often.
That's what I'm striving for. Alvaro off the last tee there, what a great shot, what a great shot. Simon Dyson's shot to start with was a super shot, first shot down there, Alvaro gets inside him, fantastic shot, and that's the sort of pressure that I'm looking for within this to see how they do perform here so they can take it forward into The Ryder Cup.

Q. And it won't be quite such a shock?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it won't be, it won't be. There's a taste of things to come here, definitely. And it's been a marvellous exercise. I think personally speaking, as I have to here, with my Ryder Cup hat on, it's been a fantastic exercise for me, a great, great sense. I'm making a lot of notes at nighttime in my room at night regarding the days and what's been going on and everything. But I've realised very quickly that I need a lot of help out on that golf course, because I can't be everywhere at the same time.

Q. Before you came here, did you think two would be enough as helpers?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Two minimum. Now I realise that I need four.

Q. Are you still going to wait until next year? You said that you wouldn't name them officially until well into next year. Is that still the same?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, there's no point in announcing vice captains in April, and then something happens that they are going to win two or three tournaments in a row and then I'm stuck. I don't want that embarrassment for them or for myself.
So what I'll do is I'll wait until the final opportunity where it's almost mathematically impossible to that stage whoever it might be and then announce. But until that stage, I can't. It's not fair.

Q. On a scale of intensity, if the Ryder Cup is 100, what is this?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, as I said there earlier on -- no, it was worth waiting on the question. (Laughter).
Interesting to see that Fernandez-Casta├▒o who has played on these and has been on the verge of Ryder Cups himself, to say that that's the most nervous he's been; because, the only reason he was, was because his nine other teammates were watching him.
Now, that's good, and that's what I wanted. That was right up there. That was, a percentage, difficult to say in percentage terms, if you're talking about 100 per cent of The Ryder Cup, that was getting towards that situation where he really felt that his teammates were urging him to do this, and that's exactly what I'm looking for, difficult to say numbers, but that's what I was looking for.
And let's hope there's more of that this afternoon, and also tomorrow. Let's hope Thomas can come back into this, his team, and then give it a go tomorrow.

Q. Is practise putting allowed at The Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Now then, I think the rules are right now that you can complete -- no. And you have one warning here. If you have a practise putt, you are warned by the referee, and if you do it again, it's a penalty.
And forgive me for not understanding the penalties in certain forms of golf. A penalty in fourball would be a one-shot penalty to you, and not your partner. And in greensomes or foursomes, it would be a one-shot penalty to the team.
Practise putting, I would like to completely abolish, and I think that it's going to be abolished at The Ryder Cup, because pace of play is vital in that Ryder Cup. If we can get two rounds in every day in Wales in October, I think we'll do well.
So I think practise putting, there's no need to practise putt. I've never really practise putted at all.

Q. Has that been addressed at all in terms of next year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: In terms of between Corey and I, no, I have not signed The Captains' Agreement between Corey and I at this stage. Let's hope that if someone does make a mistake and practise putts, I think it's quite good here you get a warning, I think that's quite good, a yellow card. And believe me, if someone does get a yellow card, they will not be getting a red one.

Q. On the point of rulings, the ruling in the penultimate match this morning?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I heard about this. I was personally -- this is, again, what I'm talking about. I was watching the last game on the 17th green, and I heard the ruling down at the bottom. Again, I can't be two places. But I heard about the ruling, yes.

Q. Just that obviously, it robbed Europe of that one point that you're talking about possibly.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, did it? There has to be at the last hole -- the last hole here at the Lanc├│me Trophee, as well, has always been an issue about out-of-bounds, there's two sets of railings and a crowd in the middle and there's an out-of-bounds and a pond and all sort of stuff going on there.
I think Andy McFee is dead right in saying that a ruling at the last hole has to be black and white. There has to be no grey area on the last hole of a tournament. It has to be, if you hit it there, you have to go to a drop zone, automatically, and I think he's dead right to do that. That's an R&A ruling now and it's also ours and I think it's only dead right that there has to be a black and white ruling at last hole.
There cannot be a grey area at the last, and there cannot be any discussion about this at all. I think that worked against them unfortunately but at the same time it could have happened to the British and Irish team.
So I'm dead against black and white rulings and no grey.

Q. You're saying you're for black and white rulings?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes. You know what I meant (laughter).

Q. Would you be prepared to put a 21-year-old rookie, as Rory is, out first next year, is he that good that you would be prepared to do that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why not? Why not? If he's comfortable.

Q. Usually a 21-year-old --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I understand. And very rare that you actually play a rookie on Friday morning, never mind out first.
We have a very special case here. I will be talking to him and his partner, whoever that partner might be, to give them every opportunity to play where he does want to play and that he's out first again this afternoon. It will be interesting to see.
But he is, as I said, a breath of fresh air. He wants to get on with it, and if he feels comfortable in that position, I was always asked, you know, to go first with whoever I was going first with, whether it be Nick or Langer or whatever.
And Woosie was very good with me. He said, look, you know, he says, "Before the draw was made," he said, in my last Ryder Cup in 2006, he said, "We would like you to go first. How do you feel?"
Now, the player has to be comfortable. And my whole team will be comfortable in the positions that they are in, believe me. There will be nobody playing out of position, you know. They will all have a role to play and a set role to play and they will all be comfortable within that, and I will give them the opportunity to say no.
But it looks likely that he seems to enjoy going out in that position. But a year is a long time.

Q. Do you have any regrets saying what you said about Ian Poulter the other day?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If I was happy that Ian Poulter wasn't here, that would be a mistake. I have to be disappointed that someone of his calibre is not playing. I have to be disappointed that he's not playing, and I bloody well should be. It's a compliment to him. He should take it as such.
GORDON SIMPSON: On that note, thank you for coming in.

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