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June 2, 2010
SCOTT CROCKETT: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance today on this special afternoon. It's my great pleasure to welcome you all here today on the eve of The Celtic Manor Wales Open, and of course as we continue the down the to this year's Ryder Cup.
Before we talk to the man on my right here who will be central to that occasion, of course, I would like to acknowledge some special guests in the audience who are delighted to be here with us today. From The European Tour we have our Chief Executive, George O'Grady. We have Ross McMurray from European Golf Design who has done a lot of work on the Twenty Ten Golf Course; and so yes, you are all welcome.
Those of us who were at the dinner last night, who were privileged to be at dinner, and a wonderful occasion it was, Sir Terry Matthews spoke of team work and how a team effort is important in everything he does. And now, a man who will be central to the European Team at Celtic Manor in four months' time, it wasn't that long ago we sat next to one another in Dubai and you were announced as captain, and time is flying by and we are now only four month away from the first tee shot. Can you give us your thoughts as The Ryder Cup gets ever closer?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: First of all welcome everybody and thank you for your attendance. Yeah, it was, it was a long way away, The Ryder Cup, back in February 2009, and here we are, 120 days away and in four months, and it will happen very quickly.
A lot will take place in that four months. We have three major championships to go. We have a World event to play, as well, so there's a number of events to be played for for the team's sake but as far as I'm concerned everything is shaping up extremely well, and I just look forward to the next four months of European success on the golf course before we come here and hopefully regain The Ryder Cup.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You had a number of questions over the last 18 months, but it's picking up and everybody wants to talk about the Ryder Cup now Colin, that's the case, isn't it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yes, it's building up, of course. This year has been busier, and now this next four months will be very busy leading up to The Ryder Cup.
But I'm enjoying the position. I love the position I'm in. I suppose if you enjoy something, you're usually quite good at it and hopefully I am, and everything is going well. The team is shaping up extremely well, and we have a depth of talent here in European golf that I've never seen in my 24 years out here, and I just look forward to the honour of captaining that talent in four months' time.
SCOTT CROCKETT: I know you'll be interested to see how the players perform on the Twenty Ten Course this week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, very much so. It's in our own interests to be playing here. I did ask them to play. I can't tell them to do anything. I can ask them to play and they have stepped up to the plate. I'm delighted that Luke Donald has changed his schedule. His results at Memorial over the last few years have been very good, and for him to change his schedule to play at the BMW PGA and also in Madrid last week, and then here, is an added bonus, for one reason; to try and get into The Ryder Cup Team and he's had a second and a first already. Robert Karlsson is due to play and would have otherwise played but due to his illness, his glandular fever has sort of returned, and as he told me at Wentworth having shot a 62 on Saturday and having followed with a 77, you can see there's something physically not quite right. And then we have Padraig Harrington, we have Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell.
We have a field that is the strongest we have had in Wales and I'm delighted that those people have chosen to play here, as opposed to playing in a big event in America. Delighted that that's the case.
Q. Obviously you'll have to go through a selection process, there might be a few controversial picks; have you gleaned anything from the past week, you mentioned talking to Ferguson last year --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, he had a very difficult decision, of course he did, to narrow it down from 30-odd to 23. He said that it was a lot easier, so he finished with that, the easy ones. He dealt with the difficult situation first, to let the seven go, if you like, and then to phone or relay the messages to the other 23 who actually made it.
I think I will learn from that, and I was always going to do that anyway, is to let -- I'm convinced after the Gleneagles tournament finishes, after the Johnnie Walker Championship finishes, I will have probably around eight candidates for three spots, eight candidates that are well enabled to be on any Ryder Cup Team, and that's the standard that we have right now. You can put two teams out that are very, very equal in standard and ability.
It's a very difficult choice to pick three from that eight. That three from that eight will have to complement the nine that have already qualified. So I've got to think about who plays with who and the locker room and everything around and how many rookies are on the team and what-have-you to select those three.
That's the difficult thing, to let, say, five down, if you like, and the easy job is to phone the successful three. And I will be doing the successful three after the five or so.
Q. Are you disappointed that some big names haven't come to the tournament this week? And when it comes to picking your wild-cards, will you take into account how players supported The European Tour this week, including playing the final event, the Johnnie Walker?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think the Johnnie Walker Championship is a given; that, say, No. 6 through No. 25 are going to participate at the Johnnie Walker Championship. That would make a whole lot of sense for a whole lot of people.
Here, there are a number of our European Tour Members who are members, also, of the US PGA TOUR. We know that we need to get to a 15-tournament playing schedule for them to be successful in their position to get into the FedExCup series and what-have-you.
So they have to play a minimum of 15, and this was always in their schedule. So I'm glad that some have changed and I'm not disappointed others haven't. I'm just building the positives here that we have the strongest field in Wales that we have ever had.
Q. So if they are not at Gleneagles, they should not expect to get a wildcard?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Knowing that the two wildcard selections last year were not at Gleneagles, you would anticipate that the wildcard selections, all eight of so-called possibilities will be playing at Gleneagles, yes.
Q. Will you be letting those eight know that they should turn up at Gleneagles then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I shouldn't have to do that. I shouldn't have to do that. They will be there.
Q. But they weren't there two years ago?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I can't speak for previous campaigns. This is a different campaign and a different time. All I can say is I will be -- I will be very disappointed if those eight particular candidates do not participate at Gleneagles.
Q. And Sergio, in particular, he doesn't really play in Britain much, and it's the first week of the Playoffs, that could be a bit of a dodgy one.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, there's all sorts of dodgy ones.
Q. I think it's well-known that you received a text that you would not be playing in the last Ryder Cup --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. With the players you've got to deal with, you've got three nice phone calls to make.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Will you be sending five texts?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No.
Q. So will you be making five phone calls?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I didn't actually -- the truth is, I didn't receive a text from Nick Faldo. I happened to be on the phone at the time and he left a voicemail message. So it wasn't actually a text. It was a voicemail message, which I appreciate because I was on the phone, so he couldn't get in touch with me at the time.
I will hopefully see these people face-to-face and actually see them. I think it's only right to see those successful and those not.
Q. Padraig said recently if he had one criticism of the team at Oakland Hills, it was that there was no team leader, and for that he blamed himself and Lee Westwood. Looking at the makeup of this team, it looks like there will be quite a few rookies in it --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Do you think it's important somebody like Padraig or Lee steps up to become a team leader?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, in a way. I think that the standard of golf, though, that's played, and the World events that these potential Ryder Cup candidates are playing in, that there is less -- there is less need for a team leader on the course.
We'll have a number of leaders outside the ropes, if you like, me included, and I don't think there's a need for the team leader situation on the course that will be required.
I think the egos will be left, if there are any, at the gates at Celtic Manor here and we'll pick them up on Monday when we leave. So there's no problem with any egos on the course within this team. They will be playing for each other and they are all playing as one.
Q. (Regarding Padraig Harrington's role as a leader on the Team).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because the fact he's probably played with me and I was seen as that over the last 2002, 2004, 2006, and he was my partner in those particular matches, all three we played together, and I was sort of seen as that.
I think there's less need for that as the standard has gotten closer and closer now on the Tour, that number 50 now on our tour, on The European Tour, is a very well-able player and no doubt a Tour winner. We didn't have that strength in depth over the last, say, ten years. This has happened over the last four or three years, this real strength and depth that we have now.
Q. Colin, you have had many career highs. When you picked that message up to say that you were not on The Ryder Cup Team, where did that rate on the low moments of your career?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That was up there with the second shot at Winged Foot, I'm afraid. (Laughter) Even more so, because you know the value I put on The Ryder Cup, and you feel that wanting a pick or requiring a pick, and then you feel that, okay, is that my Ryder Cup playing time over.
You know, you do; you feel quite negative after that, and respect the decision to pick who he did pick and they proved themselves to be world players. And for them to go on with that and prove themselves in competing in the Match Play Accenture finals together, the two of them, fantastic achievement of Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.
There was no worry. I just felt, was that it? Is that it, over? I do hope it's not. I do hope I can go back to the benches, if you like, after this Ryder Cup Captaincy and try and qualify and successfully qualify for the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Q. Clearly you're not going to be a losing captain, you're going to be a winning captain --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we hope so.
Q. But is there anything at all that commends losing? I mean? Is winning everything?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The only thing that commends losing is the way you won. Losers I think he we have had many successful captains that have lost: Tom Kite lost very well, exceptionally well and took is very, very well. Tom Lehman, the same. I think they stand out commendably as very, very, hate to say, good losers, but you know what I'm trying to say.
Let's hope for us all here, and as a European Tour and a European cause, that that situation doesn't happen here.
Q. Sorry to spin this one out again.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not at all.
Q. The eight that you're talking about, are you saying that it's cast in stone that the three picks will be at Gleneagles because you know it, or because you hope it? And if they are not, will you make some contingency plan?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay. No, it's not cast in stone. I cannot tell people to be playing in particular tournaments. I can't tell them to do that. That's not my position. I can only ask. I would be very, very surprised if I ask those particular players that are on the border that have a particular chance to be on the team not to be there, very surprised.
Q. A couple of things, first of all, six rookies are on the team as it stands now, all of whom who are here this week, and obviously can strengthen their claims; is that too many? Is there a concern?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's not a concern now. No, it's not a concern. I think that the rookies that are playing in the major championships, the World events now, the rookies now are far, far better than we were rookies.
In '91, I was a rookie and I had not played in any American major by the time I had played on The Ryder Cup Team. I had not had The Challenge Tour experience, either. There was only Qualifying School at the time. So I did not have that experience that those rookies now have. They are far better players than ever I was seeing myself as a rookie in '91.
Those six rookies that are currently in the setup right now are far better players than I was as a rookie, and so I'm not concerned at all with that.
Q. One other thing, I was intrigued by you reading to the youngsters from your favourite children's book. I just wondered are those qualifies you hope to bring to The Ryder Cup and is there anything from that particular philosophy you can use?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I do hope my players use wizardry, because it was the Harry Potter book that I read that the children here in Newport. I do hope my team use wizardry in their successful attempt to win The Ryder Cup.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We don't have long enough. Well, I didn't see it as -- I didn't see the book -- yes. (Laughter) Complete life lesson, yes. I feel much better having read it, yeah, personally. But I didn't relate it to The Ryder Cup, no (laughing).
Q. When it comes to picking your wild-cards, would you rank the following in terms of importance: Form, talent, experience or mottle?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You've done your homework, haven't you. All of the above. I don't think there's any rank in any particular order. I think that the three wild-card picks have to complement the nine that are already qualified, and thus, I'll be looking, therefore, at pairings at that stage, who I'm going to pick to play with who. I'm sure that I was picked in 2004 because Padraig Harrington was already qualified, and I was picked to play with him and we played the first three matches together. That sort of thing would be -- you wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens with me, the same thing that Bernhard Langer did with myself.
All your points are valid and expected of Ryder Cup players, but I wouldn't put them in any order.
Q. A lot of buzz about Rhys Davies, I know you played with him in Italy?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did play with him in Italy, yeah.
Q. Is this too soon for him, or is he someone you see further down the line?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Rhys Davies, and I'll start by saying I would love a Welshman to be on the team. I think it would be good for everybody. I think it would be good for the country here, for the whole scene of The Ryder Cup to have a host nation with a Welshman playing. If Rhys Davies is in the Top-12 come the Johnnie Walker Championship, he'll be playing in The Ryder Cup, whether it's, as you say, therefore, if he's in the Top-12, it will not be too early.
Q. So you would give him a wild-card?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If he's in the Top-12 players in Europe, in my opinion -- well, whose opinion is it? In my opinion, if he's in the Top-12 in Europe, he'll be playing.
Q. If you'll indulge another book question, it's not Harry Potter this time, have you managed to get ahold of Paul Azinger's book?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I have.
Q. What have you learned from it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't read it all yet. I think the Americans had to change their system of team participation, and he did it very well. There's no question that he spent an awful lot of time and devoted an awful lot of reading material, got in touch with professional people, doctors of all sorts of interests and found that there was a way around it, a way to get these 12 American players to play as a team.
And for the first time, they learnt how to do that. I'm convinced they learnt how to play the way we have in Europe for all of those successes that we had. All credit to Paul Azinger for the work he did, and the book is a very interesting read so far.
Q. You mentioned that the Americans appeared to you to play like Europeans at Valhalla, and the Europeans perhaps did not. Can you elaborate on why you felt Europe did not play in that style?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we let the Americans get momentum, of course, the first day was a very poor day for Europe, and we allowed the Americans to gain momentum. We are always told, and that's our job, to gain momentum ourselves, especially when you're playing away from home; to let America gain that momentum at home, it's very, very difficult to get back on track, and we never quite did.
We did well. We came back quite well, and halfway through Sunday, there was still a glimmer of hope that we could pull this off. But it was just a little bit too much to pull back. And again, all credit to Paul Azinger for maintaining that momentum for the three days, because it's not just for the first day. It's for the second and most importantly the third.
Q. Sticking to the Harry Potter theme briefly, will you tell your players to regard the Americans as Muggles?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. (Laughter).
Q. Just a very quick one, will you be giving everyone a chance? You're talking about America remodeling its ideas and beliefs. Will you be giving everyone a chance to play before the singles?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Barring illness and barring injury, yes.
Q. Given how well the two players who were not at Gleneagles last time played in The Ryder Cup, why is it so important for you that they play there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because I want to see them showing support for European golf and The European Tour.
Q. Regarding Celtic Manor itself, Luke Donald mentioned before that he thought the course, an element of it was quite American. Are you entirely happy with the course now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very happy with the course. And The Belfry was seen as an American course; Valderrama was seen as an American course; The K Club was seen as an American course, and we had fair success on them. Let's hope this remains as one of those, so-called American courses.
No, I don't see this as a so-called American course. Yes, there's water. Does that mean it's an American course? There's water on most European courses nowadays. There's even water at St. Andrews, you know, and that was built a while ago. (Laughter).
I don't think there's any need to worry about that in the slightest. I'm very happy with the golf course. We have just come off the Pro-Am now. I'm very happy with it, the way that it has come on over the last three years since it was built, and I think with the summer's growth coming in, I think the course -- we know the course will be immaculate come the last week in September.
Q. You've spoken about how much you thought it helped at The K Club, the Irish contingent there. You touched on Rhys Davies; is he the strongest possibility of a Welshman on your team perhaps?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, he's showing the best form right now but there are a number of strong candidates; Bradley Dredge and Stephen Dodd spring to mind immediately. So there are a number of Welsh candidates. We were very lucky in Ireland to have a quarter of the team Irish, and that's fantastic. But at the same time, as I said, I would love to have a Welshman on the team, provided, provided, as I said, if he's in the Top-12 in Europe, yeah.
Q. And what about in the back room?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we haven't finalised that yet. I'll let you know within that week after The Open Championship. I've got to allow those potential vice captains the chance to qualify for the team first, and then I'll know much more about what's happening with the performance after The Open Championship.
Q. You've yet to name vice captaincies. Phil Price has said he would like the call, the chance to do it; a former Ryder Cup player. I think he's 900 in the world and highly unlikely to make this Ryder Cup squad.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think there's every chance that we'll have some Welsh back room help. My job, my job here is to, as I said, with Rhys Davies, my job here is to win The Ryder Cup. We are here in Wales, we are very proud to be here in Wales, and the Welsh government down have made us extremely welcome, fantastic facilities all around.
But my job, my main task here, is to regain The Ryder Cup for The European Tour.
Q. I saw you at the gala dinner with Gareth Edwards, and I've been told that he is honorary captain. Will you allow him kind of access to the team room to give speeches? I've heard that mentioned?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, he was captain of the Lions as we all know and someone -- he wasn't captain of the Lions? He was on the '74 team, I'm sorry, captained by Willie John McBride. But at the same time, a great leader at the same time, Gareth Edwards. I played with him today in the Pro-Am, and I think it's a fantastic vision of the golf club to give him honorary captaincy of the club.
The team room, by definition, is the team room, and I think we will manage that team room with my vice captains and myself, I think we will manage to motivate those particular players; that none of them need motivated, anyway, to regaining The Ryder Cup.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I had not heard that one, sorry, but at the same time, I respect Gareth Edwards and his position in world sport, still and I think he's a legend in these parts, and only rightfully so. At the same time, I don't think he would be comfortable in that role, and I think that it's a professional golfing position, and that's who I'll be selecting.
Q. Sorry to return to this, the FedExCup and the Gleneagles situation, can you just nail that down again? You're saying if anybody who can get in on points doesn't come, does that mean they will not get a wild-card?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. No, I didn't say that. I just said I would be very surprised if they didn't show up at Gleneagles.
Q. Is it doesn't rule them out?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It doesn't rule them out, no, but I will be very, very surprised if they don't turn up at Gleneagles.
Q. Just to follow that up, to putt it in slightly specific terms, if Sergio completely mirrored Poulter's form in 2008 and didn't turn up, would you pick him?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's a hypothetical question at this stage.
Q. It is. So what's the answer?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: (Laughing). The answer can also be hypothetical.
Sergio GarcĂa is a world player, a class player, a world player, and one person I would love to play out here. He brings a certain passion to the team that I haven't seen since Seve's days. I would be, as you would be, and all of us here, would be very surprised if Sergio GarcĂa was not playing in The Ryder Cup.
Q. (Regarding accruing points for playing in the Barclays Playoff event in the US the same week).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It doesn't count for Ryder Cup points because it would be too late points-wise, yes. That particular event does not count, because I would have to delay my selection till Monday until the World Rankings come out, with the time change in America. So it doesn't count for our European Tour Ryder Cup points, no. Well, hopefully my team will be picked.
Q. You told us 18 months, or possibly two years ago, that you had every intention of having four vice captains; four is the right figure, is it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it appears that we have four matches on the course at any one time. I would like to have that availability that I have somebody walking with each game and I oversee the whole thing. So four seems to be the goal.
Corey Pavin selected his vice captains already, and there's four of them. So that tends to be the number that we tend to have on the course and around. Any more than that, I think there's too many for a committee, if you like, to decide on positions and who is playing with who. Four is possibly at this stage the right number.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Could be but doubtful.
Q. Just on the wild-card again, obviously you got the extra pick this year. Given the fact that the Americans will be picking a couple of weeks later would it not be advisable to keep back one of your picks and see how it goes in the FedEx?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Interesting. No, I think that the team selection is right the way we select the team. I think that everyone has had ample opportunity to qualify for the team and to play in respective tournaments around the world.
We have had this full year, and I think that's only right that they continue to do that and not wait for certain players to perform, or otherwise, in other events. I think it's only right that we abide by that and stick by that. So I'll be selecting the team on schedule at the end of Sunday's play at the Johnnie Walker Championship.
Q. If Rhys Davies doesn't make the Top-12, will you still consider him, considering that he is still a relative rookie, would you still consider him for a wild-card?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yes, what I was saying was in my opinion, if he's in the Top-12 in Europe, that doesn't necessarily mean -- obviously Bernhard Langer thought the same and I was 24. He thought I was in the Top-12 in Europe.
Q. Would you still consider him even if he's not in the Top-12?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, as Bernhard Langer did me when I was 246789.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Colin, thanks very much as always for your time. I think it goes without saying that everybody in this room wishes you all the best for next time.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you very much indeed.
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