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July 6, 2011

Colin Montgomerie


SCOTT CROCKETT: Welcome to The Barclays Scottish Open. Give us your thoughts on going into this week, on a new venue for this tournament.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's a shame, I feel a bit of -- I haven't played the course as yet, so today is my round around the course but from what I've heard from everybody, it's very exciting and all credit to Barclays for bringing it up north. The ticket sales I hear are ahead of Loch Lomond which is amazing to think that we are not in the central belt of Scotland where the population is.
So all credit to everybody for having the vision to bring it up here and we all look forward to it. I think the reason that we are here is because of the strength of the field, the quality of the field, wanting to improve before an Open Championship, and I think he's got it almost right that the number of players that were not playing at Loch Lomond on a so-called clay court before a grass court major.
So at least we are playing on two grass courts now. If you can understand the analogy.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You've just come from the range, how are you feeling about your own game coming into this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: My own game, I had a very poor finish in France, dropped four shots the last three holes there to finish 30th. That was disappointing. I was in the Top-20 again and I was Top-20 the previous week at BMW. So things are improving, yes, and I'm back into the top 300 in the world, thank you. (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT: Applause was deafening.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it was, it was a muted applause as usual. But starting the season at 420, I'm now 280, so there you go. It's dramatic, the improvement.
SCOTT CROCKETT: The only way is up, as the song goes.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very few people improve in their 40s, and obviously I'm one of them, which is tremendous.

Q. 'When' you qualify for the Open at the end of this week, and I hope you appreciate the fact I said 'when' and not if, where will that rank among your many achievements?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If I can qualify for The Open, if I can finish in the top 5, not just the top 5 -- you saw last week that second place didn't make it. In fact, first place didn't make it. (Laughter).
It's difficult, very difficult, so I've got to perform really to the top of my ability and we'll see what happens, but it's a challenge and I don't want to miss The Open, I really don't. It's the last throw of the dice here. And 22 years, 21 years in a row I've played in The Open and not having won it, you've got to find a way of qualifying somehow, 21 years in a row and I'm proud of that.
So I'd like to not have that record broken, but it's a challenge, believe me and we'll see how we golf but I'm looking forward. I've got a good draw with Luke Donald, No. 1 in the world and Peter Hanson, two of my Ryder Cup Team, and I'm looking forward to playing alongside them and hopefully they can pull me along to bigger and better things.

Q. Do you feel additional pressure?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's no pressure on my golf, no, I don't feel any pressure to perform, no, but I would like to play in The Open, yes, because I'm a great believer in if you're not playing, you can't win. And on a fast-running course like Royal St. George's is, that gives me, nowadays, at 48, it gives me my best opportunity; the way that Greg Norman performed at Birkdale and the famous occasion where Tom Watson performed at Turnberry. So it does give an opportunity for those who don't have a certain length off the tee more of an opportunity, so I would love to be able to play, yes.

Q. They say there is no such thing as a poor bookmaker, but do you find it insulting that you are quoted as 200/1 to win here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, that's the way it is. I came here in '99 as favourite, and that was realistic. It's realistic now, yes. That's the way it is. I'm playing better than that, I know I am. So I wouldn't put myself at that level. But, at the same time, yes, it's realistic where one is on a list of achievements over the last three years, I'm afraid, yeah. It's reality. Hurts sometimes, but I'm playing better than that. So I don't take that into much consideration.

Q. If you were to qualify, would that make you a contender at Royal St Georges?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yes, you have to look at current form going into an Open. Very few people find a game at a Major Championship. You have to sort of bring it with you and I've had a couple of decent performances leading up to this, and if I can finish in the top three or four places and qualify for The Open here, of course I would go down there having a shot, definitely, yeah.

Q. In all your many successes over the years, have you ever been tempted to jump in a lake to celebrate?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Never. I think it's the silliest thing that players have done over the years, I really do. Funny, I played with Thomas Björn on the Saturday, and he unfortunately put his ball in the water on the right-hand side on the 15th, and Wobbly, his caddie, put the pin into the lake, if you like, down, only about that much. And we go, whoa, hang on, people have been diving in here and jumping if here and stuff. And we said together, the two of us said together, Thomas and I said: Well, we do hope it doesn't happen, because someone is going to do themselves an injury here. And we are actually lucky, lucky, it was only a leg injury.
I've always been suspect about people diving into lakes that don't know, one, how deep it is, and what's in there. There could be a something, a spike in there, sharp, whatever and most unfortunate. But it's not the way to celebrate and let's hope that's the last time that ever happens, and it's not the way to celebrate a golf tournament win by taking the next three months off because you've hurt yourself.

Q. Can you think of a better place than here to end your run of not winning?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Super. I've always enjoyed playing in Scotland and we are lucky that with The Open, that when The Open is in Scotland, we have four events here which is super.
I always look forward to playing here, especially a new venue like this, a lovely links course, a beautiful place. We just wish the weather forecast was better, it's improving slightly I believe, but it's not great. But it will add a certain something to the game here. I think a few people have said the fairways are quite generous, the greens are quite large and it needs -- any links course needs a little bit of breeze or needs some sort of weather to make it challenging, and we have it this week, so I just look forward to it, I really do.

Q. What is your incentive in the game now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: To try, as I said, I gave myself two years to get back into the Top-50 in the world. Now, that would not be realistic over one year but two years, I feel, okay, if I can keep on sort of motivating myself to get there, that's the goal at the end of the day. I'm not unrealistic. I'm not talking about Top-10s or whatever in the world. Top-50 in the world.
I feel if I can play well for the next year and a half, I can achieve that, and that would be good from 420. As I say, I started when I was Ryder Cup Captain, I started at 47 in the world, and finished outside the top 400. That shows what that did to my career for those two years and I want to try to get back from that 400 position back into top 50. That's the goal that we have right now.

Q. Do you think it was a risk coming here away from an established venue at Loch Lomond?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it is a vision, I suppose, it is, and it was super to choose this location as a links venue. We were looking for a links venue for The Scottish Open for many years, and Loch Lomond's field wasn't what the Barclays chairman was looking for, and he feels that he's got it now. He feels that he's encouraging Pádraig Harrington, for one, who never really played at Loch Lomond and was practising on links courses before; now he can practise in competition, and it's super that he's here, along with a number of others.
We have got 1 and 2 in the world here as well and they might not well have been playing if it was at Loch Lomond. So they were looking for a links course, this is a super venue, a great place, and we all feel it's a superb setting. The golf course is challenging enough. I think you'll end up with a super tournament at the end of the day.

Q. Against the positive of playing a links course here, is there a danger of players being worn out by the weather as you were at Carnoustie a few years ago?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did at Carnoustie once. That was unfortunate. But I think it's giving -- I don't think the weather is going to be that severe. The wind forecast isn't that severe. Rain we can put up with. Monday off to travel down from here, the long distance down to Royal St. George's, Monday off and can practise Tuesday and Wednesday, that's okay. They are all fit nowadays. I never was. So there's no issue there.
They want to feel certain shots around the greens, they want to strike around the firm turf that links courses gives you, and I think it's a great -- hate to say, and this is wrong of me to say this, but hate to say, to use The Scottish Open as a practise for The Open Championship because it stands on its own two feet. And believe me, any of the guys that are here for the first time, to use this as a practise, if they get into contention Saturday evening, they are onto win The Scottish Open. Forget what's happening the next week. They are going to be here to win, which is only right.

Q. Will you drive down to Royal St. George's if you qualify?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Definitely. I'll go home Sunday night and go down the road. I've got to go to Lanarkshire on Monday, there's an EMF site visit for a few hours on Monday there down at the site of the first Maggie's Centre there and drive down from there. Always drive.

Q. But Inverness to Sandwich is a long way?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is but I did Perth to Turin before, that was an effort, so Inverness to Sandwich is really just around the corner. (Laughter).

Q. Graeme McDowell described the course here as weak off the tees but strong into the greens - your thoughts on that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so, I felt that Loch Lomond was similar to that, the way that Tom Weiskopf designed that, a second-shot golf course, if you like, and that favours Graeme, His iron play is as good as any. And it favours the likes of myself, as well, who always prided himself on his iron play if you like. So it's good that way, second-shot golf courses I like.

Q. Does it fit with your design strategy?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it does. So the greens are quite sloping I hear. The pins will be in quite difficult places. You've got to judge the way the ball comes into the green. You've got to be drawing it in or fading it in to get the run or the stop on the ball, and so there's a lot more to it than just hitting the middle of the greens here, and I like that.
I enjoy that challenge coming into those greens to try to get as close to the pins as possible. You'll find the pins tomorrow through Sunday will be in the corners of the greens. They will be quite difficult, close to edges and slopes. It will be a challenge to get it close, and I understand what Graeme was saying.

Q. A lot is made of fitness nowadays, you're not tempted to turn into a gym bunny are you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. I asked for a sandwich last night in Aberdeen, I had an discussion evening on stage with Dougie Donnelly of the BBC, we were doing an event and asked for a sandwich, and "Anything that you don't like, Colin, on the sandwich?"
I said, well I never got to this size having missed out on anything, so no, anything goes (clearing throat).
There's a serious side to this. A lot of people have been injured in gyms over the years, an awful lot of people have been injured in gyms, and I'm not one of them (speaking proudly).
A lot of injuries and they are real tight athletes, and things go wrong. And I think although I've been playing this game professionally for 25 years now that I feel that flexibility-wise and when I've played, I've only really been doing it for ten. I don't feel any differently than when I was 18, flexibility or otherwise. I'm very fortunate that way. You can't play 21 Opens in a row, by definition, that means you've been healthy for 21 years in a row. I'm very lucky to say that. Order of Merits for seven years in a row, you have to be very healthy for those years in a row, or someone is going to overtake you.
I've been very fortunate, touch wood, that I have looked after myself to a certain degree. I haven't jumped into lakes. (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you, Colin, as always.

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