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September 28, 2010

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everybody, welcome to Colin Montgomerie, first official practise day, Colin. It's been a long time coming. How are the lads enjoying it out there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, fine, they are very relaxed, they are enjoying themselves. The weather is great. The golf course has had rave reviews from all 12 players. Fantastic, the work that Jim McKenzie and his staff have done in preparation here. And fantastic, really. I think everything is going very smoothly. The three fourballs that were sent out will be matches between themselves and I feel that's what they want to do. I'm a great believer, I've said this many times, if you are enjoying yourselves, you're quite good at what you do and they are enjoying themselves and everything is according to plan so far.
GORDON SIMPSON: Off the golf course last night you had your first chance to meet up with everyone.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, it was an important meeting the first one, I included all of the wives and partners of the caddies and a number of tour officials at the first meeting last night. I think it went -- I can't really say, I think it went okay, to be honest. I think it was very positive in every way. You know, we know the goal at the end of the week here is to obviously try to regain The Ryder Cup, and of course, it's a job.
The American Team is strong, we know this, but the opportunity has been given to us to attempt to regain this. And that's our task and goal, and we will be doing everything, as I said a year and a half ago, everything to try and achieve that goal.

Q. Can you just clear up Twittergate and whether they are allowed to Tweet or not, because Poulter has been Tweeting and said it's okay, just seems a bit confusing, this end.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I didn't say it was okay to Tweet. Tweeting has not been banned. I think banning things is very dangerous, because, say, someone does it, what's the -- how can you then say anything.
So Tweeting, let's get this cleared up, right -- talking about Tweeting, I thought I was the captain of a golf team, not the captain of a Tweeting organisation. Never mind. (Laughter).
Whatever they do, whatever they are, respect is shown for what is said within the team room. That's what I have banned. And they are respectful, the ones that do, that are on these social websites, the ones that do use them, they understand fully what was said and they respect that view. But they can do whatever they have to do elsewhere regarding, you know, their thoughts and what have you.
But at the same time, whatever is said within that team room stays within that team room so they respect that decision.

Q. Couldn't help notice you came in clutching a case; is The Ryder Cup in the bag for Europe?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: God, you tabloid guys. (Laughter).

Q. I'll take that as a yes.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If only it were. If only it were. It's not. It won't leave my side this week, believe me. A lot is in there -- no, we have been talking a lot on the golf course. I'm so glad Sergio is with us this week. He's been super on the golf course and giving his views about all of the players out there and situations that might arise.
Darren, Thomas and Paul, I've known for many, many years, and respect their views, as well. So we have been talking around all morning, and it's been good and enjoyable conversation, really, to see what's what. So a lot of the notes that have been made are in there and that's why I carry it around.

Q. Can you just clear up the point you made the other day when you were asked on the radio, I think, about who you would choose for the American Team. I think you said that you would go for Furyk or Stricker ahead of Tiger. Can you tell us just why you would make that choice? Doesn't look so uninspired after Furyk's 7 million, does it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, I'm thinking more fourball and foursomes, and also singles players. I would put Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker right at the top of the tree when it comes to pairing people with anybody. And I think that we have a few players like that ourselves, so one particularly, in Luke Donald, and that type of player is a Ryder Cup player that can play in both forms of matches, especially the foursomes matches, which is the most difficult form of golf that we can play.

Q. Given the relatively limited preparation time, what should we read into the groupings that you sent out this morning?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, nothing much really. Today was used to go and see the course. Lee Westwood had not played the course before, for one. So I'm just using today as a practise round. We are going to chat about it this evening, and see how we want to progress, but you can read more into the pairings possibly tomorrow and Thursday than you can today.

Q. Could you give me your thoughts on Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thought somebody might be asking that question.

Q. Will they be a formidable combination this week in your opinion?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Let's hope they are formidable. It's untried in Ryder Cup play. They are both very confident individuals, and I think that's a huge plus when it comes to playing together that both are confident, and confident of their own ability and confident of their partner's ability.
As you say -- as I say, it's untried in Ryder Cup play, and let's hope it works out.

Q. What do you attribute your own personal success in The Ryder Cup to, and do you -- is there a moment, perhaps when you knew that this was going to be something that you were going to be good at? And is there any of that that you can impart on your players?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think putting in The Ryder Cup is most important, obviously. You know, you never putt for a loss of a hole, so you're obviously putting for a halve or a win. I've always hit my putts slightly firmer in Ryder Cup play, personally, and I'm trying to pass on that knowledge to the rookies, especially. Especially when you have someone behind you in foursomes or in fourball play. I think I've always been able to rely on them. I've been very lucky with the partners that I've had in my foursomes and fourball play, when you think about the partners that I've had, the Faldos and Langers and Harringtons of this world, it's allowed me for freedom to hit my putts firmer than I would have done normally and it's amazing how many of them go in.
That's what I attribute my personal success in The Ryder Cup to, and I'm just trying to pass on that knowledge to the rookies, especially, that it's amazing how many first putts in fourball play, when there's two balls on the green, it's amazing how many first putts are holed, the guy that's outside his partner, because he has that freedom, and that's what I used to do.

Q. You waited a long time for this morning to come to actually be sending this players out to practise, just wondered if anything about this morning surprised you at all or that you had not anticipated?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was actually surprised, being a rookie myself, I was surprised with how relaxed the rookies were, and how they felt so much part of the team. Delighted with the way that the three picks are playing. It's always a little bit difficult as a pick, I found that in 2004 in practise, that I felt somehow, because I had six Ryder Cups where I had not been picked before and qualified, so there's a different feeling with that, and I'm glad to see them feeling so much part of the team, as well.
And I was just encouraged by the way they enjoy playing the golf course. I think the golf course has matured into a very, very good one here, in a very short time, and I think it will stand the test of Ryder Cup play here. I'm just very excited about the way they are. They are excited, so therefore, their captain is.

Q. You had spoken to Lee, but how keen were you to see him on the course, and talk about his importance.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so. I was speaking to Lee individually on the course, and for him to start off so confidently, today, even with three or four birdies in practise, I know it means very little on Tuesday but it's always good for one's self-esteem to start off that way when he has not played in six or seven weeks and comes in and starts ripping the ball like he is. So I'm very excited for Lee Westwood this week.

Q. Ever since you made the fateful decision to take P√°draig Harrington at Gleneagles, you've taken a fair bit of schtick, can you tell us how you've reacted to that criticism, and how important, if any -- which importance, if any, do you place on his final round in Paris on Sunday?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I feel the criticism was very unjustified to be honest. I know what P√°draig Harrington can do, and that's why he was picked. I've never seen anybody -- he's like a rookie out there today. He's had three eagles out there today already. He's playing the best golf of my team out there, and I feel the criticism early on before The Ryder Cup is very unjustified.
He's a world player; he's won three major championships, and the stature of the guy is second to none within our team.
I'm very happy that he shot 64 the way he did with seven birdies and an eagle the last round; in Paris, moved up from 40th to 8th, in fact, one shot off third. That was great for him, and as he said in the papers this morning, it was important that he felt he had a card and pencil in his hand the week before the Ryder Cup and did well.
I met him when he came in on Sunday evening. He flew back to Dublin and then flew back again with his wife, and I met him Sunday and he walked into the Celtic Manor as if he was a rookie, fantastic, and he was really up about the whole thing, and has been since.
There's reasons why P√°draig Harrington was picked, and judge me -- judge me about that selection on October the 4th and not on September the 26th. (Sic).

Q. Thomas Björn, why did you pick him?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I didn't pick him, thank God, because he's not playing very well. (Laughter).

Q. Did you choose him as a vice captain, what do you expect of him this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I like Thomas, Thomas is a friend of mine, as is Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, and Sergio was a fantastic guy to come in as No. 4. I did pick, sorry for the comedy, I did pick Thomas, Darren and Paul. Sergio asked to be picked, so the difference.
But at the same time, Thomas and I -- I have great respect for Thomas. He runs our tournament committee extremely well. He knows the players extremely well and I was very impressed with Thomas when he captained The European Team at the Vivendi Trophy last year, and was put into place for that reason to test him out, really, to see how he performed and he performed very, very well.
I'm so glad Thomas is on the team, and I mean a team, to help. He's played on two Ryder Cups and won them both and I think Thomas is a great asset to our team this week.

Q. If you would look at the record of Luke Donald and Ian Poulter and say, they are good Ryder Cup players, could you also look at the records of Tiger and Phil and Jim Furyk and say they are not, based on their records?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You can say that about a number of players to be honest. Tiger's record in The Ryder Cup is not quite as bad as people think it is. It's just because his individual record is incredible.
Jim Furyk is a very difficult man to play against in any form. He keeps the ball in play, very, very steady, and of course, is coming off a fantastic win last week. So obviously full of confidence.
And Phil Mickelson, I mean, he's just the most talented guy out here, and has not put it together in Ryder Cup, you're right; but who says that won't happen this week. Him saying that, very equal to anything that we have in our squad; Luke Donald has a great record in Ryder Cup himself and is very, very confident with the way he played in the FedEx series. And Ian Poulter has to be the most confident golfer in the world, bar none. He's just confident, about everything, on and off the course. We have a number of players that you can say that for. And because of that, we look forward to the competition starting on Friday now.

Q. Why do you think the American record, the ones I mentioned, why do you think their Ryder Cup record is so poor?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would not say they were poor. In Phil Mickelson, what he was saying earlier on, I was listening to a number of the views of the American players and I think the FedEx series has helped the Americans and I think it helped them win in 2008, because the Americans were playing golf, especially when it came to the home tie. Flying over here is tiring and playing away from home is obviously more difficult, just as it is for us when we go to America.
I think it helped America win the 2008 Ryder Cup, because normally after the US PGA, the American tour takes a bit of a fall, and in the fall. (Laughter). That was good. The tabloid guys can use that. The broad sheets, just ignore everything I say. (Laughter).
So, it's different now that the FedEx series, they are playing four tournaments in five weeks leading up to The Ryder Cup, and I think that it did help them in Valhalla, definitely, to play golf and to play golf so well as they did. We'll have to see if it's the same when they have to travel abroad the way they have done.

Q. Curious, as far as the individuals on each team, who do you think is likely to appeal most to the crowds and be able to sort of stoke the crowds the most, either with their play or antics?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's interesting that Ian Poulter and Miguel Jiménez have played in five Ryder Cups between them and have not actually played at home yet. I think they are the two on my team that will do. Miguel Jiménez has become very, very popular here in Europe, extremely popular and has not managed to play a home tie yet. All his three have been away from home and Ian Poulter the same. He's played twice away from home and he can't wait to get going and to be part of a British success within this European Team.

Q. You mentioned that Sergio asked to be picked as a vice captain; can you elaborate on that conversation, when it first occurred? As a follow-up, the vice captains and yourself, I noticed you out there having a lot of fun with the team today to the extent that you took one of their drivers and hit a tee shot. So what measurements are you doing to keep your team loose?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We are all players, less than them but we decided there were three of us on the 17th tee and decided to hit a tee shot with the group, and not one of us hit the group and that's why we are not playing. And then were shown up by Graeme and Rory, he especially.
No, I had a conversation with Sergio at St. Andrews, and there was three big tournaments to come for Sergio, the British Open, PGA and the Bridgestone World Event, and he knew that he had to show extreme form in those events, not just for me and for him but for his peers, as well, and for everybody on The European Tour. Although there was a decent performance at the British Open, the two in America did not show the form that was required, and he said, if this happens, could you give me a buggy; cart, in your world.
And I went, "So what are you saying.
He said, "I'd like to help out, please. I'd like to be part of the team. I'd like to be part of this somehow, if I'm not able to be on the team and not able to be selected by you," Which is obvious at this stage.
He said, "Look, if I can have a cart and help the team in that way." So it's fantastic that a 30-year-old can do that. It's one of the youngest vice captains ever, and one of the best current players, ever, to be a vice captain. And it's a real positive for The European Team to have him in the team room, the passion that he brings to it. He's up there with Seve and with Ollie in that way, and I think that it's a great example of how close The European Tour are in trying to regain this trophy back.

Q. Could you discuss, what's your views of the reaction between the Molinari brothers when you see them out playing together? I guess we know the advantages to being brothers and playing; is there any disadvantage to being brothers on the same team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, there's obviously advantages. You can write that till the cows come home about the advantages of brothers and how they think and are wrapped together and how they play golf together so often in their lives.
The differences are negative, I believe, in my view. You are only looking at the pros and the cons are very, very limited within that. They are great and very excited to be here. They were excited in the team room last night. Yes, we will be playing them together, that's obvious. When and where is up to us, but they will be playing together, and they really do look forward to it.
And it's great to see the first brother relationship that's played in our European Team, and I wish them well and I do think they will do very well. They are very up for the whole competition.
GORDON SIMPSON: Colin, we look forward to hearing what the players say now, and don't forget the bag.

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