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August 25, 2010

Colin Montgomerie


SCOTT CROCKETT: A warm welcome to you and thank you for joining us on what is a big week for you, as Tournament Chairman, this tournament has meant a lot to you in the past, and obviously it's got a special emphasis this week. Just talk about the tournament first and foremost and the week itself.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thanks, Scott, and welcome everybody, as the Tournament Chairman and host here, this is a very big, big week for everybody here. More so myself, it's a busy time, and I expect it's going to be an awful lot busier come Sunday evening when I announce the European Ryder Cup Team for 2010.
But this is an important week, it is, as I say, and I live up here, I live about five miles from here now, and it's a great place to be. And a day like today, you would wish to be nowhere else. I think it is a stunning venue. The golf course is improving all the time, building up to of course our own celebration here in 2014 when the Ryder Cup returns to Scotland and here at Gleneagles, and I think it will be a marvelous celebration of golf when it does come back to Scotland.
So it's all good here right now, and I look forward to playing myself over the next four days. Obviously there's one eye on what I'm doing myself and one eye very firmly on what's happening to the guys that have an opportunity of making the team outright when they play here this week.
It's a busy week, Johnnie Walker Championship, Ryder Cup, Gleneagles, everything all three components, that as Scott said, are very dear to me and we look forward to it.

Q. Sam Torrance said he didn't make his mind up for five minutes before; have you made your mind up, who would you pick?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have not made my mind up yet. I had a long talk yesterday with Thomas Björn and Paul McGinley on-site with here, with Darren's views -- Darren is coming in Saturday evening to be with us here on Sunday. And I have not made my mind up. And impossible to do so, really, because of course, the scenarios might well change.
There's a few guys here with a win that can put them right into qualification places, and also with good form at the right time here. So there is very little opportunity for me to say, yes, I've made my mind up.
Not at all. There is no way that the mind has been made up as to the three selections for Sunday as yet. Yes, I have an idea, but that might well change, so I've got to be able to be flexible.

Q. How important is the form, and will you be looking at how well they play in New York this week? And if one of them misses the cut, will that affect his position or could it get someone else in?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, as you know, I can't rely on what's going to happen on the Sunday of that tournament, only the first three days, and I'll look at that obviously and how they are doing over there in comparison to what the guys are doing here.
As you know, it's the most difficult decision I think that any captain has had to have. We have been very honest in saying it is a very, very difficult task. No one envies this position. I'll have to leave out world players for the first time, and that's a headache for me, but at the same time, a very nice headache to have.
But it's the first time that a captain has been able to leave out top 20 players in the world. Usually our team goes through, what, I think I was selected, I was about 60th in the world, and now we are leaving out top 20 players, which is a shame, really.
But, that proves the standard of European golf and how it's improved and our strength right through the Top-12 players. It's a difficult decision and the most difficult decision I think any captain has had but at the same time, a good one.
But I have to -- to answer your question, I have to look at the form of the so-called FedEx four, and comparable to what's happening here. I think I will do what Sam Torrance did. Sam Torrance was questioned earlier on, and I think I will do what Sam Torrance did and I will make my mind up through the day and through the early evening on Sunday.

Q. How is the team shaping up compared to the list in the drawer at home?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It has changed. You'll never know the 12 now. I think that with form changing and with others doing exceptionally well, I think Peter Hanson has to be singled out in that view; to go to the Czech Open, having to win, and doing so out of 156 guys, to have to do so to win that event is a bloody good effort.
And, yes, he lost it slightly on the Sunday, came back and won the playoff and what an important putt that was for him and for Sweden who don't currently have a Ryder Cup participant having qualified. So a fantastic achievement and all credit to him.
And that's the kind of guy I'm looking for on the team, someone that is on form and can win when he has to win. He's had a great year. I was watching him earlier on at the Royal Trophy when I was out there with him and he had a great win against Ryo Ishikawa, one of the up-and-coming stars, beat him 6 & 5. And I've been watching him ever since, and I'm delighted for him. He's very steady and consistent and obviously a very good performer. That has to be singled out. Yes, he wasn't one in the drawer. You'll never know that drawer now, because I said you would only know it if all 12 appeared, but that's just a good player that has come through.

Q. Do you think four picks might be better in the future?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that's for another captain to decide. When we sit down towards the end of this year, as we did in 2008, and select the next captain for the job, that will be on the agenda, how many picks should the captain have. I think nowadays as you so rightly say with the players and this FedEx series going on at this time, I think captains will be asking for more picks in the future.

Q. You spoke at Celtic Manor about your desire to see guys coming and supporting this event.

Q. And now how do you balance guys that have come to support the Tour and what is the best for the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I will be selecting the best 12 players. My remit at the start of this campaign, and it's never changed, was to assemble the best 12 players for Europe to try and regain The Ryder Cup for Europe. That was my remit and that has not changed at all.
The situation of players not attending here has changed in my opinion in that I feel that I'm glad that the players that might well get selected, that are playing in America right now, are playing golf, playing competitive golf. I think that's very important. They are playing competitive golf here and we have a good lead-up here of European Tour events before The Ryder Cup, and also obviously competitive in America, as well. So I support the choice.
Normally in America what happens, the American Tour players that have played on the European Ryder Cup players in the past, after the US PGA, have had a lull and I think that that's helped the American Team, as well. I think their performance at Valhalla was boosted by the fact that they were playing competitive golf right up to The Ryder Cup. I think that if it boosts their performance as well, it can boost our own European players that are playing in America right now.
So I support the choice as to who I'm selecting. I wish for the first time the team could be a European Team of 20 players, because that's my issue right now. I have 20 players that could beat any other player on a given day. And it will be unfortunate that there's six, eight guys that are going to have be left out that could as to the European cause.

Q. I know you haven't made your final decision on the wild cards, but if nothing else happens, do you know one, two, three, at the moment? It can change, but do you know who you would pick?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's a very good question. I'd like to say yes, and then you can ask me other questions leading on from that. Yes, I do know what the situation is, and so do the other vice captains. We are in accordance here, and we are all together on that. But obviously I'm sorry I can't give you anything more than that today. You'll have to wait for Sunday for the final announcement, because obviously that situation might change.
But may I say to second that; if anybody here playing at Gleneagles makes that top nine automatically, all right, or gets himself into position where I pick them from here, all credit to them. The same as Peter Hanson last week, I think it's the most difficult thing to come to a tournament and have to finish in a particular place to get a selection or whatever, and I think if anyone does that, all credit to them this week. And that's the sort of people I'm looking for.

Q. To get the 12 best players, are results more important than reputation?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That has been weighed up and will be weighed up. Reputation is always something, there is a fear factor from certain players, but form is also very important, and I think that that's -- going back to Peter Hanson again, fantastic performance. I think anybody that shows form is very important here, as well as reputation that some others carry.
So there's a bit of both there.

Q. The draw obviously with the leading contenders here, are all in the same groupings?

Q. Was that your decision, what was the thinking behind that and was it your decision to play with Sam Torrance?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm playing with Sam. I'm a good friend of Sam. Of course I'm a friend of Sam. And Sam was an exceptional captain, as we know, in 2002, and I asked to play with Sam Torrance this particular week.
I did ask not to play with the contenders in the event. What I did ask, for the contenders, though, on this particular occasion, I know this has happened, is that I wanted the contenders not to play -- to play around each other for the sake of the weather. If the wind changed or the wind sprung up, it would be very unfortunate if someone was left on the wrong end of the draw, if you like, for the week. It does even itself out over the year, as we say, but on this occasion, I wanted people, if it does start to rain or if the weather becomes inclement, I wanted to have the players under the same conditions.

Q. So you want to prove --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I do. They want to prove their own peers and also around here as well.

Q. Speaking of asking -- did you ask any of the FedEx four to play here this week?

Q. And the responses, did you ask all four?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I did. I spoke to them all last week, two weeks ago at the US PGA.

Q. And their answer?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I had to go with their answer. I can't tell anybody to play anywhere. I was asking them to do so. There was a release situation, as well, within the rules of the US PGA. But at the same time, I respect their decision. I can't tell -- I'm not in a position to tell anyone where to play and how to do that. I was asking for that situation, and I accepted their decisions.

Q. Are you disappointed?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Disappointed, no. I go back to your own question regarding playing; as long as they were playing competitive golf, whether it be here or whether it be in America. Disappointed for Johnnie Walker Championship, yes. Disappointed for The Ryder Cup cause, no.

Q. When you're looking at the makeup, are you more concerned about the pairings than singles?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much. So that is a definite criteria as to picking teams nowadays, because of the strength and depth of Europe, anybody can beat anybody on a given day. So therefore, who is right for the team setup who, is right to play with whom, and so that's where the picks have to be taken from. Yes, that is taken into account, greatly into account by myself and the vice captains as to what we are thinking about selecting team members for, yes. Because the standard now is so close, it's such a fine line between the candidates that it comes down to team members, and as I say, team, which means playing together.

Q. Can I get your thoughts on Wayne Riley who was talking about Paul Casey and saying how much does Paul Casey want to play in The Ryder Cup, he should be here, that he's saying to Colin Montgomerie, I should be picked, and I don't think that's right.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You don't think that's right? Oh, that's what he said? Well, that's his opinion.
Paul is a world Top-10 player, and wants to compete in THE TOUR Championship for the first time. I can understand that. I can take that scenario on board. But at the same time, no one should feel that they are automatically picked because of their position worldwide or their reputation.
So I don't think that that's appropriate at this stage, but I can understand -- I can always understand.

Q. If you were in that position, would you have played here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've never been an American tour member, ever. I've always dedicated my career to European golf. So, yes, I would have always played here.

Q. What update have you had from Lee Westwood?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good. I phoned Lee on Sunday. In fact, he was having a barbeque with Paul McGinley, actually. They were down in Portugal. His physio was out with him. Lee has hit balls a week earlier than anticipated.
Whether Lee Westwood will be playing any competitive golf before The Ryder Cup is in doubt, but at the same time, he'll be hitting balls and starting to practice and to play golf a week ahead of his scheduled time, which is two weeks before The Ryder Cup, which gives me great heart and should give us all great heart.

Q. If Lee can't make it, correct me if I'm wrong, would Luke Donald come automatically from the World Points list?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The next person on the World Points list whoever that might be would take Lee's spot, which would be, right now, Edoardo Molinari at No. 5 on that list.

Q. Would you consider that as constitutes your wild cards?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have to phone Westwood again, and I will, on Sunday, and make sure that everything is in place, and so you can very well guarantee that Lee Westwood will be playing at Celtic Manor.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you, Colin, good luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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