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September 22, 2010

Colin Montgomerie


STEVE TODD: Colin, many thanks for joining us here at the Vivendi Cup.
STEVE TODD: Your role as the Vivendi Ambassador, interested spectator last year, and again this year. Change of venue, but what do you think going in?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much. I'm just sorry I can't spend the whole week here; I'd love to. It's a lovely location and a great competition we have, and it's great that a lot of the players are bringing their own guests, as well, already here.
I think that every second year, this will grow and grow into a semi-Dunhill Cup if you want, the Dunhill Links Championship that has grown into a very, very big event, and every second year, of course, we have the rerun of The Ryder Cup if you like within ourselves. And I think that's a super event, and I think it proved a great success last year.
The Vivendi Trophy, I think it was a great event, played out with two great teams, two good captains that are now my vice captains here; that was obvious (smiling).
I look forward to playing the Pro-Am here. I've got to leave unfortunately. I've got to get to The Ryder Cup tomorrow morning, but at the same time, delighted to be here, and the weather, let's hope it remains as it is here in Wales for the next few days.
STEVE TODD: It's a different venue this year, you'll get a chance to see it in a couple hours, but a beautiful spot.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's lovely, beautiful. I think the 36 holes works well, the two holes together, the clubhouse facilities are great. Everything here is set up for a super, super event.
STEVE TODD: And a couple of Ryder Cup players in the field which obviously strengthens the tournament. An important week for them to hone their games.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I would like more, obviously, to be playing. I'm so glad that Pádraig is playing here after having missed out on THE TOUR Championship, and I'm glad he's here, and Peter Hanson, as well. I would have liked more. Unfortunately Edoardo had to pull out. He's just resting, really, for next week's episode, because it's a tough week next week, and a number of players are playing around.
So, yes, I'd like more to be playing, more current Ryder Cup players to be playing here in the field, but at the same time, I can understand their decision.

Q. Just when you say you would want them to be playing here, are you saying that as the ambassador for this tournament, or the captain of The Ryder Cup Team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A bit of both, as ambassador for this tournament, I'd like this tournament to grow, and the way these tournaments do grow is by the field strength. And I think that that will happen in time.
At the same time, I would like them to be competing as such in an event before The Ryder Cup, as opposed to -- as opposed to sitting at home thinking about it. I always play better in The Ryder Cups that I was playing the week before. I enjoyed playing the week before, just to tune up and to play competitive golf. They have all been playing a lot. Miguel Angel has been playing great and has played a lot. Luke Donald has got through to the FedEx TOUR Championship, which is great for him so he's coming in later I suppose. I have got Pádraig and Peter going straight from here, and the rest of the guys arrive Sunday and Monday, earlier than normal so they are all very keen to get there and get going.

Q. It's good to hear that you're confident enough that you would have expected to spend the whole week here, but --

Q. On the form of --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you. Are you trying to say that I was going to miss the cut?

Q. I wouldn't suggest, but as to say --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Hang on. Hold on. I'll answer your first question, if it was a question, or a statement.
I have been over the last, what, two years, since Abu Dhabi, really, in 2009, one eye on others, and that was my role. I was given this role to try and win back The Ryder Cup. I think that I can't -- in many ways, for my own personal game, looking forward to the Dunhill Links, actually, in the next weeks to get back to the back benches, if you like, and to compete and to start contending and competing in events that properly and not so-called worried about other people and only worried about myself.
And so I look forward to being able to compete and contend the way I used to do. Remember, it was only five years ago I won the Order of Merit. So I'm not saying I get back to that level, but I'd love to get back to a stage of contending, competing and winning tournaments.

Q. With the one eye on the players, while you've been so busy with that, what's your feeling of their form this close to The Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm very happy with the form of all the players. You can't -- I mean, you know, the form of Luke Donald, the form of Edoardo Molinari, Miguel Angel Jiménez, Martin Kaymer, superb, really. Graeme McDowell did a good very job last week in finishing third, very safe, steady performance as he is, and I'm very happy with all aspects of the team.
I had breakfast with Pádraig Harrington this morning and we were talking about the way he is coming back into form, and delighted that that selection was three weeks ago and it's given him incentive to get the game back in order, which I am convinced, of course that's why I picked him, convinced that it will.
You tend to forget that in 2006, having played with Pádraig in 2006 in The Ryder Cup, I think he was -- and having played with him in practise and that first day, I think he was trying a little bit too hard, pushing too hard to win in his home country, and it was a big deal for Pádraig Harrington to be playing in Ireland at that time.
And of course in 2008, having come off the two major wins, I think he was exhausted to be honest. And this is a very different Pádraig Harrington we are seeing now, someone who is not -- has not performed to the ability that he possesses, and I think you'll see a very different Pádraig Harrington.
And I was so glad that, unprompted in the press over the weekend, at how he is standing up to the plate now to be that on-course leader that we haven't had for a couple of years maybe within The Ryder Cup. I think that he's willing to stand up to that plate and not just to be the leader on the course, but the leader off it, as well, and I think that's very important.

Q. Have you been shocked at all at the level of criticism of that selection?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, no, I haven't, Derek, to be honest. I anticipated that there would be criticism over that selection. And not just Paul Casey, but Justin Rose, as well, had obvious credentials to be part of that team. I mean, as had Robert Karlsson to be honest, you know. And thank goodness that Robert Karlsson, Sergio GarcĂ­a and Henrik Stenson weren't in that group of five that didn't fit into three and it would have been eight that didn't fit into three and it would have been worse.
No, I wasn't surprised at the media's, what I could say, constructive criticism over Paul not participating this time. It was an impossible decision. Paul's been very professional in what he's been saying over in America, and I wish him well, and he's been performing well and has performed well.
It was my decision to try and get 14 1/2 points on the board, and that's the team I've chosen I feel is capable of doing that.

Q. That said, would it be a little embarrassing if Paul did win on Sunday night?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not at all. Not at all. It would be great for The European Tour if he wins on Sunday. He's in the top 5 now and he's one of those players that automatically, if he does win the tournament, he wins the FedExCup, and best of luck to him. I don't think it would be embarrassing at all. I think it would be a great coupe for The European Tour and European golf. It just shows the strength; it just shows and proves the strength of this team that we have now that a potential FedExCup winner is not even on our team. That proves the strength of it.

Q. Would it be the case that you can be the top player in America but not good enough to be on The European Team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm not saying he's not good enough to be in The European Team. I never said that.

Q. No, just this time around?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, he is good enough to be on The European Team. Five into three didn't fit. But he is good enough to be on The European Team, yes, yes. But five into three didn't fit.

Q. Of course you're here to talk to Pádraig and Peter Hanson.

Q. How much time will you spend with them and what sort of --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm seeing them after the prize presentation this evening and we have other things to discuss. Peter Hanson obviously has more questions than Pádraig has, being a rookie member of the team. I'm glad Peter is coming in Sunday to get the flavour of the whole thing direct from here.
No, he's got more questions, which is fine, and easily answerable, and Pádraig is thinking about understanding what goes on in that week, and just understanding different views from different players about what they feel -- I wouldn't say mistakes they made, but what can we get to make that perfect, as perfect as possible. And so his questions are very different than Peter Hanson's questions are, and, yeah, it's interesting to hear two views.

Q. What have you been doing over the last three weeks?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Me? Thinking about the result, yeah. Anxious in many ways. Of course there's anxiety over playing at home and the strength of our team. I'm not worried about anything, any aspect of The Ryder Cup to do with the media attention on me, speeches, dealing with the team, having to leave out four, as you well know I have to do that, and everything that goes around The Ryder Cup. The only anxiety I have is in the result.
It's my job to relieve that anxiety within myself to get my players playing to their potential and that's what I'm convinced, if they play to their potential, we will win. They have got to play to their potential, because the standard, the standard of opposition is strong, there's no question, very strong. They have won two Presidents Cups and a Ryder Cup. They come over here very well managed, very well thought out, and I've got great respect for their captain as a competitor, and he will bring that competitiveness to their team, and it's our job to nullify all of that and to get my team playing to their potential.

Q. Do you think they are being underrated? They seem to be playing the underdogs card quite well. Do you think they will be underrated?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: They won't be underrated by us, which is the most important thing. Anyone else can under rate them. There will be no complacency or underrated feeling from our side, none at all.
These matches will be hotly contested, closely contested, and I think this will be one of the most watched Ryder Cups there is. I think having lost last time, I think it's given The Ryder Cup -- I think The Ryder Cup this time is bigger, better, because of it. I think the inclusion of Tiger Woods has given everybody a bit of an, 'Okay, I wonder how he's going to play; I wonder how he's going to be used by Corey Pavin, I wonder how Corey is going to fit him in, and how is he going to be used, and is he not going to play five times,' whatever. It will be interesting to see how he performs and how he reacts to a different situation having been picked. I think this Ryder Cup, there's a lot of scenarios going on within the one scene, and I look forward to it all.

Q. Unless you see something unexpected, how close are you to knowing what pairings you'll send out on Friday morning? And just for yourself at the moment, is it more nervous than excited?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I'm both. I'm excited. I can't wait for the matches to start. We have nine days now before it starts and it's getting close now. I'm extremely close. In fact, I know who is going to be on that first tee on Friday morning barring, of course, accidents or illness or a complete lack of comfort within a position.
But they know and I know, yeah, already, and that's important to let them -- important to let them know earlier than not. There's no point in me keeping secrets. I go against the form of telling the team two hours beforehand whether they are in or not. I'm going to let them know so they can prepare accordingly.

Q. What are you looking for from your first pairing then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A win, really. (Laughter).

Q. Well, you can tell us --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: What am I looking for from the first pairing? Momentum. I'm looking for that momentum from the first morning onwards. I'm looking for a win in the series. We've only ever won five series in a row, once, and that was in Ireland. We won every series of matches Friday morning, Friday afternoon, Saturday morning afternoon and Sunday, and that's only happened once in the history of The Ryder Cup on either side of the Atlantic.
I would like to start off with a win in the series of matches. If we can win that first series of matches, that gets us off to a great start, momentum; the crowd then get going and we have a lively afternoon in foursomes, which is the most difficult form of golf. For those of you play, you understand how difficult that form is, and that will take us into hopefully a lead on Friday night. That's my goal come Friday.

Q. Telling the players, was that also to allay the nerves of the guys who are not playing on that first morning so that they can prepare if they are needed for Friday afternoon?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Exactly. They know. Everybody knows what's going on. I think it's important that they do know; that they understand that they are all going to be playing and they are all going to be available to play and all going to be up for that, and I think it's important they know exactly where they stand at all times. I've said that from word go, that I didn't want this to be blocked out and hidden and dark in any way. This is a very open campaign and it goes through to the players and it goes through to who is playing when and where.

Q. Do you want to open it up to us then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, not at all. (Laughter).

Q. Will all play 12 play that first day?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Barring accident, yes.

Q. All 12 on the first day?

Q. Thank you.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's as open as I'm going to be, I'm afraid. But at the same time, all 12, barring accidents, will play the first day, and I think that's most important, and then we'll take heed and we'll take stock of what's going on and we'll have a big meeting obviously Friday to discuss that with everybody. But everybody will play, and I'll tell you that when I have my first press conference, barring accidents, of course. Barring accidents or illness, everybody will play the first day.

Q. What was the reaction of this lucky person that's going to go out first?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's a bit different going out first playing at home. You don't have the first shot as such. That's a nervy exercise, I've had that twice myself and that's a very nervy exercise.
So it's the first game, but I realise having gone out first, a few occasions, first game is most important, most important, to get that momentum, to get that blue on the board, to get that thing going, to get the crowd going, to get the whole scene alive. Very important to get that first win on the board.

Q. And that decision to send these two out first, was that something, of course, you discussed with the four vice captains?

Q. All concurred?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yes, this won't be dictatorship. This will be diplomacy in the greatest way. We are all going to work together here. I happen to be saying who is playing, fine, and I'm doing all this, but behind the scenes, it's very much a team, yeah.

Q. When did you speak to them all?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've spoken to them all on the form. I've spoken to them all by text. I've got to keep my phones with me.
Yeah, they are all -- they are all fully aware of what is going on that first day, fully aware.

Q. When did you speak to them? Earlier this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've spoken to Peter, I've spoken to Pádraig and the others, I've spoken to Lee about his fitness and who he is going to be playing with; Martin; I've spoken to -- well, them all, Rory, Graeme. They are all absolutely ready and raring to go.

Q. Molinaris?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Wherever they might be playing and whatever they might be doing.

Q. Anybody surprised who they are playing with?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, they are not. No, they are not. This was -- I haven't told -- I would never tell anybody, oh, you're playing with him, ever. This has been not negotiated, but this has been talked about and dealt with through. I'd never tell anybody they are playing with anybody because that's unfair. The golf ball is an issue. The pairings, the countries, the what-have-you. You might find the Molinaris might well be playing together. (Laughter) That wasn't one of my most difficult decisions. I wish it was all that easy.
I just can't wait now. As you can see, you can feel that I just want to get going now, and there's a lot that goes on before the Friday morning, a lot goes on. I want that all to run as smoothly as possible for obvious reasons and then get into Friday morning.

Q. This is a very bold move, I don't think anybody's ever done it before; do you know if anybody has ever captained this way?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I wanted to have more of an Open campaign, I've always said that and there was no point in keeping things hidden to my players. I don't understand that way about -- no, I'm not telling you. Well, why not? I want to know. I wanted to know myself what was happening, and sometimes I wasn't quite given that opportunity of learning and knowing what was going on.

Q. What was the earliest you were told who you were playing with on the first morning? What was the earliest, was it a day before?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I had known. Bernhard Langer had informed me and Pádraig that we were playing the first game two days before. Wednesday morning we knew. That's the earliest I've known when I was playing. But everybody here knows what's going on. And everybody's going to play the first day. There's no question there, barring accident or injury or illness. Everyone is going to play the first day, and that, I think everyone can prepare themselves for that happening. That's important. They all know that they are going to be performing on that first day on Friday.

Q. You've been part of teams where people didn't play in the singles?

Q. And you've seen what it did to them. Is that the time when you decided if you've got the captaincy that you would do this?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There was no way that -- Mark James had a plan, and I can understand what he did. And to be 10-6 up going into the singles on Sunday, you'd have taken it, you would have done. And it worked out very well for us that the three rookies that had not played took their three top players in Mickelson and in Woods and in Love. It worked out brilliantly, actually.
Unfortunately what had happened was that the first two games, the momentum went against us. The first two games lost. And then the next three were always going to be tough, Mickelson, Love and Woods. And suddenly from 10-6 up, we are 11-10 down. Then it's tough, in America, momentum is squarely with them. They won the first five games. Bloody difficult then to come back when that momentum and that crowd are getting behind them the way they did on that Sunday.

Q. They know who they are playing with Friday morning, the eight players who are playing Friday morning?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, the eight players on Friday morning know who they are playing with. They do know who they are playing with on Friday morning.

Q. Are you not worried that you might be showing too much of your hand here?

Q. To the Americans; to Corey.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Doesn't mean they are going to -- does that - I'm not telling them.

Q. But they are going to look at the practise pairings and stuff like that.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: They might not play together in practise.

Q. You haven't got a sandwich list? (Laughter).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. (Laughter) If I see Corey's pairings, which of course I will, I'll take great interest, as you obviously are because you've answered the question regarding if I'm going to put so-and-so with so-and-so in practise, right. Say the Molinaris play together in practise, okay. Well, Corey doesn't know where they are going to play, what number they are going to go out.
So that doesn't affect his -- that doesn't affect his pairings or what he does, I don't think. It wouldn't affect me if I see Hunter Mahan playing with Dustin Johnson on all three practise rounds, I probably would say, okay, well, they might play together. Doesn't affect my team at all. I can only control my team and my team will go out there prepared to win. It doesn't matter who they are playing. My team are a team of 12, capable of beating anybody at any given time.

Q. Silly question --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, that wasn't a silly question but it needed answer. No, Iain (Carter) never asks a silly question. Yeah, write that down. But it needed answered; yes? Do you understand what I'm saying? Do you understand the answer?

Q. Absolutely.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because it's important you get where I'm coming from as well. I'm not showing my hand at all. I'm not telling anybody -- it's important my team know the eight players who are going to play on Friday morning know, right, and barring accident and illness, everyone is going to play on Friday, and that's important, on our first meeting on Monday so they can go away, they can go to bed on Monday night, prepared, knowing they are going to be playing on Friday to help the team.
Because I don't have a team where I don't have the team that we used to have in the 90s where it was definitely, there was a split, there was, and I was involved in that split in '90 when I felt very, very junior and very, very rookie. The guys that are on the team have all played in World events, they have all played majors now. I had not played; my first American major was 1992 at the U.S. Open in Pebble Beach. I had not played an American major by the time I turned up at Kiawah Island, I had not played, so I felt a real rookie. These guys here have played in these events, they have played in World events, they have played against the Americans, they are less rookies than we were, so I felt the team is much closer in standard of play than we've ever had before. There's that (indicating negligible distance) between the 12 of them, that's why they can all play on the first day.

Q. So where do you think it went wrong at Valhalla?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Momentum. Momentum. That's all.

Q. Team spirit?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, momentum. The Americans gained momentum the first day, and it's very important playing away from home to nullify that momentum that was given to them. Now, why it was given to them, there's all sorts of stories and all sorts going into that. But all I'm saying is momentum was with America and it's very difficult to get that back playing away from home, having lost the Ryder Cup three times in a row as America had. They wanted it back, badly. They got momentum the first day, it was perfect scenario for Paul Azinger's team.

Q. Do you know who will play No. 1 on Sunday?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. No. That depends on how we are doing. I don't know the singles outfit at all yet, no -- well, I do know the outfit, bluish. (Laughter) But I do not know who is playing where, no. No, I haven't got into that.
Anything else? Come on.

Q. Got another week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's it, isn't it. Surely you can't write anymore about this. Surely you can't write anymore. Give me a break. Come on.

Q. Blank pages. You're not tricking up the course?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I'm not. I'm not. I think it's a good question. I think sometimes we can tie ourselves in knots, I'm afraid, if you're not careful by setting up a course that we think is going to suit us and suits them. I think I'm going to have to rely on good golf winning this day, and I'm convinced, as I said, if our team play to their potential, they will win, on any golf course. But there's no trickery in the golf course. I think the golf course is set up is ideal, been down there, going down there tomorrow evening, speaking to Jim McKenzie, the green superintendent, having another go around the golf course to see how it's playing, but there will be nothing -- you'll see nothing that's untoward in the golf course now. Good golf will prevail.
STEVE TODD: Colin, many thanks for joining us.

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