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August 24, 2011

Colin Montgomerie


GORDON SIMPSON: Well, it's traditional on the Wednesday before the Johnnie Walker Championship that we speak to the Tournament Chairman, and the chairman has duly arrived, Colin Montgomerie.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sorry for the slight delay.
GORDON SIMPSON: No problem. Paul Lawrie prepared by walking about 90-odd miles last week, what has your preparation been for this championship?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, he did well. Was that the West Highland Way? 93 miles, he did extremely well.
My preparation has not been that. I've been busy running around Europe, but at the same time I look forward to playing, I do. I have not played since The Scottish Open at Castle Stuart competitively. So we look forward to competing and contending, and not just competing, so I look forward to the week ahead.
The golf course has never looked better. I think the changes, I've been talking to players, have been well received, especially the 7th. I think we have got that right now, the 7th hole.
The 12th hole and the 14th hole have more definition than they have ever had before, so that's great. And the greens are firmer, that we have been asking for and that has been duly received and the feedback from the players has been very good, very positive.
So that's super, and we look forward to the event, the clubhouse, the Dormy House has been received well, as well. With the new interior, the new changes to the locker rooms and to the facilities for the players and I think that everything is as hunky dory as possible. I look forward to playing myself and competing.
GORDON SIMPSON: There is a sense of Ryder Cup now, you can sort of feel it around the place, can't you.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: You can. This is the year off, if you like, I suppose between the two years. But it's great that Olazábal is playing. I'm playing with him, surprise, surprise, the first two days, and I look forward to that, always do, playing with him.
And no doubt we'll have a chat on the way around. But at the same time, I'm glad he's here to view his room that I had last time, and the most difficult selection of trying to select a team. So, great for him, and we wish him well, of course we do.

Q. As you say, you've not played since Castle Stuart, probably as long a gap as you've had, and how difficult is that for you to be coming back again and trying to compete?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's the longest gap I've had, ever, in the middle of my career, yeah. I mean, in the middle of the season -- you miss The Open, which of course that's the first time that's happened in 21 years, so it is the longest gap. I missed the Bridgestone and the US PGA, so, yes, it is difficult.
I've been keeping an eye on things. I was down at The Open and I was over at the US PGA with SKY Sports, and so I have kept my eye out on what's going on and very interested to see how everyone is doing. I always am now because that comes from being captain last time; that I can continue looking and watching and being interested in new talent coming through, which of course is extreme here in Europe, as it is in America now.
So it's a very exciting time. It has been difficult for me, no question. It's been difficult not to play, not to compete, yeah.

Q. What advice would you be offering José when you see him? Have you already done so or will you be offering any?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'll be offering no advice to José unless he asks.

Q. Do you expect him to ask?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If there's something that's particularly bothering him or there's a problem or there's something that he might need an answer on that he's having difficulty with, by all means. He knows my number; that's fine. And we get on well, so he's got as much experience as I have in Ryder Cups, and I don't foresee those difficulties arising.
I think he's his own man, a very passionate man and I think he will do it his way, which is only right, and I don't envisage any phone call to be honest. But if there is anything, I would have called Nick or Bernhard or Woosie to ask if there's any problem, anything that was going wrong or right for me at the time. But there didn't seem to be, so it was okay, I didn't need their support, if you like, and he might not need mine.

Q. Paul McGinley has once again been appointed captain for GB&I at the Vivendi --

Q. For GB&I for Vivendi. Do you think that strengthens his contention for the captaincy in 2014, and once again, what would your own possible role be here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: To go back to your second question first, my own possible role is only if asked. I'm not going to put my name forward at all. If the Tour, if the Committee would like me to do this again, of course, of course I would take that role. But need asked; I'm available; I'm not playing that week probably. So that's where I stand on that one.
On Paul McGinley, I think it does strengthen his case to be captain here, there's no question. I think he was found be a great captain of that Great Britain and Ireland Team as he was last year, and that might strengthen his case to be on José Maria's team come a year's time.
So I don't know what the situation is there. I hear that Jean Van de Velde is the captain of the Continental Team, so it might strengthen his case to be involved in that -- that seems to be the way that I set it up, anyway, putting Thomas Björn and Paul McGinley there. It was obvious that they were going to help me at Celtic Manor and it might be the same again. I don't know José's thinking without asking.

Q. Going back to 2014, what about Thomas Björn and his chances? I was thinking of yourself, McGinley and Björn as the likely ones?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, and you could have added Darren Clarke in there before his great success in The Open possibly.

Q. But he wants to play.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He wants to play. I think you'll find Thomas Björn wants to play in three years' time. I don't think you'll find that Thomas is out of that scene enough to want to play. I wanted to play -- I suppose you can go back to that. I wanted to play 2010. I wasn't playing well enough. So took the job on, another role, to help Europe.
But yes, Thomas is our Tournament Chairman and Paul McGinley, if somebody asks me, there's a few candidates that seem to have that option that becomes available to Europe now. And then in the future, of course, we are looking at the Clarke, Westwood, Harrington era, so we have some future potential great captains to lead Europe to success hopefully.

Q. Going back to only two wild cards next year, would you please surprised if a world Top-10 player doesn't make it again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think it surprised us all that a world Top-10 player didn't make it the last time and I do hope that that scenario doesn't come into play, because it was a very difficult decision to take No. 17 in the world at the time as opposed to No. 8, a very difficult decision, and a decision that was the most difficult of my time.
I do hope that Olazábal doesn't have that same issue and I hope it's more cut and dry for him than it was for me, because it's a very difficult decision to make, extremely difficult. So I do hope it's more cut and dry for him that the two picks next year are obvious and then we can just go with that and it will be easier for him than it was for me, because it was most difficult for me.

Q. Is it more difficult with just two wild cards?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The scenario does change, yes, there's a percentage -- it does become a greater percentage chance that that happens again; if it so happens that -- we were unfortunately crumps hardly, but Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer had won Majors, and Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy had won all the points in America. And so therefore, it was very difficult for an American-based player to make that team last time with only four of that World choice that I had.
That scenario might not happen again and that option, that choice might be more open. So Paul Casey played well; unfortunately he was fifth on that list, and it's very difficult. You base yourself in America, you are taking a risk to make The Ryder Cup Team, quite simple, if you have two Major winners and two guys that are at the top of the game in Westwood and McIlroy.
So it was a very tough team to make, that one. They all are but that was particularly tough, if you based yourself in America.

Q. You've talked about your approval of the changes of the course, there's a perception that the 18th isn't a suitable finishing hole for a Ryder Cup and there's been talk suggested that it might be changed. Are you privy to that and what's your opinion on it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm not privy to that at this stage. From what I've heard the course will remain fairly much as it is. The 18th hole, I agree that it is not one of the greatest strengths of this golf course.
But, as a reachable, potential reachable par 5, things can happen on the 18th hole. Look at Molinari last year and look at the superb finish we had playing that 18th hole. Could he make 4, or is he going into a playoff; can he win this event to make a debut on The Ryder Cup Team. There was drama enough there last year and I feel that that hole stands okay.
A lot of the holes, as you're well aware, I think they only went down the last on three occasions out of the 12 matches, there was McIlroy, there was Donald and there was Molinari went down the last, I believe, at Celtic Manor. It's not a hole that's used to be honest with you, an awful lot. If it was hole 15, 16, 17, it would be used an awful lot more, but that's fine. I'm very happy with the course, as I say, very happy with it.

Q. Do you think lessons will be learned from players from what happened last year, regarding the qualifications, as you say, basing themselves in America is a gamble, do you think players will take that on board and make sure that they are not in that position again in a year's time?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I don't want to be the guy that changes the rule book on having to play in this event. I asked players to play in this event, and one of the guys got picked because he played in an event, and not just because he played an event, but because he won it. And I'm a great believer, if you're not entered, you can't win.
I feel that Olazábal will have, I believe, a stronger, a stronger representation of potential Ryder Cup players next year than I did. Yes, I think that some players didn't believe that the risks involved in not making it in that top nine, as I was, his top ten in, that top nine that I had.
So it is a risk. If you're not in the top nine or top ten as it is now, if you are not in the top ten, you are at risk of not playing and it's as simple as that. It's quite straightforward. You have a qualification, and if you don't make the top ten, you might not make the team and you can't rely on a pick. And any player is wrong to do so, to rely on a pick. If you are not in the top ten, if you have not qualified, you are at risk, simple as that.

Q. You've made it clear that you want to contend in the Championship this week.

Q. I was just wondering, your own preparations, you said you've been both side of the Atlantic and all the rest of it, what have all of your own preparations been like in the buildup to the event?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I've been practising quite hard. My putting is a lot, lot better than it was. That's why I got to 11-under at Castle Stuart just after, what, 38 holes, I got to 11-under. So I was going okay. My putting is much better than it was and I know that throughout my wins, I have not ever won not putting well. So you've got to putt well to win. I know that. If I can putt well and keep the ball in play, I have a chance to contend, not just compete.

Q. Is it an odd situation that the one Scot in the world's Top-100 does not get Ryder Cup points until January?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Is that Martin Laird? He's not joining the Tour until January -- I wasn't aware of this fact, I'm sorry. Why is he not joining the Tour until January? Is that because that's all he can do?

Q. He didn't join the ET as he didn't commit to playing the minimum events required.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Because he couldn't commit this year, so he has to start in January? Well, that's unfortunate, the way that happened for him and for Scottish golf.
But at the same time, Molinari managed to make the team by starting from a Challenge Tour situation by starting in January. He proved to the captain, me, that he was capable of playing The Ryder Cup, and it's up to Martin Laird now to do what Edoardo Molinari did win three times, get as close as he possibly can to qualification, and be one of those two picks of Olazábal's, if he doesn't already qualify himself.


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