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January 18, 2012

Colin Montgomerie


SCOTT CROCKETT:  Colin, many thanks for joining us, as always, and welcome to the Volvo Golf Champions.  Your thoughts on being here at Fancourt this week and your first tournament of the year.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  We have had two tournaments down here already but we feel this is a start and it's great that we have assembled a fabulous field together down here and this is a great place.  I've been to this part of the world but I've never been to Fancourt or George before, and it's fantastic, I think we are all saying the same thing.  The more fields we have of 35 players, the better I think; provided I'm in it, I think it's a great idea.  Saves having to beat another 120 others.  Fantastic.
So I'm looking forward to tomorrow, looking forward to a new start.¬† I have a new bag of clubs.¬† I'm back with Callaway after an eight‑year gap, and as you're probably aware, most of my success in the 90s came with Callaway equipment.¬† I won five Order of Merit in a row with Callaway equipment and seen the equipment and what's to come, as well, from what I've seen from the company.¬† I made that decision to go back again.¬† It's a little bit back to the future really and it's super, and I'm really excited about using the equipment I am for this particular week and onward.
Callaway have been super with me.  They have brought me back again.  It's very rare that you go back to a company after one's left a manufacturer, and it's been great that I've been able to keep that relationship alive, if you like, and go back to them and to hopefully realise more success with Callaway.
So, yeah, I'm looking forward to the year ahead and looking forward to trying to win.  That's the goal.  Just trying to win.  I really want to try and win out here again, and so change equipment to try and realise that goal.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  You're playing with Tom Lewis; shows the depth of The European Tour, doesn't it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Yeah, only one victory and he's only played in two tournaments I think, so very good, really (chuckling).  He's had a great start to his professional career and it's great that we have him in the field.  I thought I was the oldest in the field playing with the youngest in the field but he's not; Matteo Manassero is younger.
I'm looking forward to playing with Tom.  I haven't played with him before and I'm looking forward to seeing how he gets around a golf course, especially of this standing and I look forward to that challenge really to try to finish ahead of him tomorrow.  It's a good chance for me.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Your own game, Colin, you spent a lot of time on the putting green just before we came down.¬† How was the game in the Pro‑Am today?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Yeah, I'm hitting the ball well.¬† I'm hitting the ball well tee‑to‑green.¬† The irons are good right now.¬† I'm driving the ball safely and if I can hole the putts‑‑ to win out here, I know I have to putt very, very well, no question, to compete with the longer hitters out there that have a huge advantage over me with some of the length that they hit the ball.
So if I'm winning or contending to win, I have to putt well.  If I can hole out inside ten foot, that's what it always takes, never, ever have I won a tournament not having putted well, so you've got to putt well and now I've got to putt even better than well.  I've got to putt very well to have a chance of winning.
So that's what I'm doing.  Going to go back to the room and have some more putts and find ways to try to get the ball in the hole.  But the irons are good enough.  It's just a matter of taking that reward, when and if it comes.

Q.  The top four in the world are not here but they are absent; what do you make of that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† I think it's great because it gives me an opportunity of winning, because they are all quite good really and they are all better than I am.¬† So I think, fantastic, I wish more weren't‑‑ (laughter).
It is a shame, it is a pity but they all worked extremely hard towards the end of last year, especially Luke Donald, who was fighting for both Order of Merits on both sides of the Atlantic, and what an achievement it was.
And I don't blame with him with a new baby arriving to take time off at this time.  He can't play every week.  It is a shame, you know, that he's not here, being No. 1.  And of course, 2 and 3 and 4, I can't speak for them the same as I can for Luke.  But I understand Luke's position; to finish the year, having won that, and then down to Australia again to finish the year off the way he did, he must have been extremely tired.
I won one Order of Merit on one side of the Atlantic a few times and I understand what it takes out of you.  You need to recharge the batteries, indeed and I believe he's playing next week and it's good to see him out even before the end of January to be honest.
So, yes, it is unfortunate that the top four players in the world are not playing, but at the same time, we have a fantastic field.¬† We have a lot of winners.¬† I believe it was noted last night, we had, what, 14 major championships and 300‑something wins on the Tour here.
So this is as strong a 34 as you'll get and it's super that players like myself were able to qualify through having won ten or more tournaments and that's given the event extra kudos having the likes of Harrington, Retief, Ernie, myself, I suppose and in a lesser way, Robert Karlsson, Jiménez, Olazábal, these guys that have won more than ten events on the Tour to come out and participate, and I think it's great for them and it's good for the tournament, and it's good for Volvo, as well.

Q.  Is that a new putter hiding under that hood?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  No, it's a similar putter.  It's an Odyssey putter, obviously part of the Callaway group now, and there's a different weight in it and I want to take it home with me this evening and make it my best friend, so I can bring it out tomorrow and it will work.
Really, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  I really am.  I'm looking forward to the whole year to start fresh.  I feel like a bit of a rookie really with a new set of clubs and a new freshness.  I'm looking forward to it, I really am.

Q.  Just on the putter, you said you're going to take it back; are you going to work with it or just talk to it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Just sort of‑‑ it's a new grip.¬† I want to get the feel right.¬† It's not quite right right now.¬† I want to get a feel that I can bring with me to the course tomorrow.¬† It's all feel with me, the whole game is.¬† It's never been technical as such.¬† It's all just, if it feels good, it will work, and that's the way it's got to be.¬† I'm just taking it home.
I will putt in the room, for an hour or so, at least, just to get a feel.

Q.  Your views on the course?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  It's an exceptional course.  I hear it's ranked No. 1 in South African, which really means in African terms, it's ranked No. 1 in Africa, and deservedly so.
I played it twice now, on Tuesday and Wednesday, but we have not had the tournament pins yet.¬† They have both been so‑called Pro‑Am pin placements which have been in areas that we won't be using for the tournaments, and you'll find some more difficult, challenging pin positions tomorrow and on, and I'm looking forward to that.
I think the course stands up great.  It was quite damp when I arrived on Tuesday.  It's dried out now, and I think talking to the agronomists out there, they are going to leave it and let it dry out and become more linksy than it is right now.
I think that makes it difficult when the ball is rolling firmer on the fairways and rolling into trouble.¬† It's becoming firmer all the time, and I think it's an exceptional golf course and a great design, and I enjoy the challenge of it, I do.¬† I think it's a great place.¬† I really‑‑ as I say, it's my first time in this area of South Africa, and I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

Q.  As the proud creator of inland links of his own, how would you rate this against yours?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  It's a very good effort; obviously nothing like Carton House designed by yours truly.
And I'm glad actually the Irish Open is back at Carton in 2013.  That's great news to have that and I'm delighted that they have taken the Irish Open to Portrush, fantastic.  I think with Northern Ireland success recently, it's right that it's gone to the north, and super.
And back at Carton, similar, similar style.¬† The bunkers are very severe here.¬† They are a half‑a‑shot penalty with the new riveted faces that have been put in, and I think that it's a real challenge.¬† The bunkers are a real penalty.¬† They are really soft, and a lot of sand in the bunkers, which means it's more difficult and it is a firm bunker, and like the Carton House situation with me, going in there is half‑a‑shot penalty, too.
The run‑offs are similar and a very good job as been done in design here, an extremely good job.¬† It's been a long walk between greens to the next tee, but that gives you more of an option as to where to go and what to do.¬† I think it's a very good design, an exceptional design and all credit to Gary Player.

Q.  You said long hitters have a huge advantage.  How much are you giving away now?  What's a stark example?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  This course has five par 5s, and any course with five par 5s and only four par 3s, par 73 gives an advantage to the longer hitters obviously to reach these par 5s in two shots.
The par 5s are a risk/reward type of thing but when you're going in like a Nicolas Colsaerts or Ernie or Retief or the longer hitters out here, going in with a 5‑iron to my 3‑wood on firmer greens, it does really make a huge advantage for the longer hitters.¬† Provided of course they are straight and they can find the ball off the tee.¬† If they can do that, it's a terrific advantage, especially with one extra par 5 in there, par 73, to have the five par 5s.
So this particular course, it does favour, and most do nowadays, favour long hitters and that's a fantastic asset to have in this modern game.

Q.  How much are you giving away?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† I'm giving away‑‑ Nicolas Colsaerts is probably the longest in the world at this stage, he's up there with Alvaro Quiros if not longer; I'm giving away 60 yards off the tee to him, if I'm hitting it 280, he's hitting it 340, which is a big, big disadvantage and an advantage for him.¬† The last time played with him I was drug tested.¬† (Laughter).
And I said, now, what's this for and they said‑‑ in the Spanish Open, they said, "It's for performance‑enhancing drugs, Monty."¬† Both of my playing partners just laughed all the way down to their courtesy cars and I was taken into the laboratory.¬† Complete waste of time, that.¬† (Laughter)¬† I'd want my money back if that was the case.¬† They are wasting their time with that one with me.¬† So that was crazy.¬† They out‑drove me, Stephen Gallacher and Nicolas Colsaerts; it was embarrassing, and they drug tested me.¬† Anyway.

Q.  Are you any longer with this new driver?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Yes, the combination of Callaway ball and driver has given me another ten yards, which isn't enough but has given me an extra ten yards of distance, which is always handy to have.
And that's not just ten yards with the drive, it's also seven or eight yards with the second shot so it's 17 yards on a par 5.  So instead of getting to the front edge or around, I can almost get to the greens which is an advantage for me, yeah.

Q.¬† Have you noticed the re‑setting of the bunkers, and what have they done it with?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† It's not perth (ph) as we do it in Scotland.¬† It's a sort of plastic brown material that's been put over it, it's a soft material and does work very well.¬† It does work extremely well.¬† There's less maintenance obviously.¬† We have to go in before every British Open, three or four years before The Open, I know this because of the Troon situation, and have to re‑rivet the faces of most of the bunkers.¬† Here, there's no maintenance required and I think it looks very good and I think we should take this onto other courses.

Q.  Have you tried hitting into the face and seen it jump back at you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  No, funny that, because I want to play tomorrow.  (Laughter) We haven't really tried that.  But my amateur partners had a go today.  They had a go, and failed, yeah.
It sort of goes in and dents and then it goes down and plugs, which is worse.  So the bunkers are a real hazard here, and stay out of them, yeah.

Q.  Inaudible.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Been coming here for many, many years and that is dangerous.  That comes back faster than it came at you, so there's problems, but it's a dead sound.  It doesn't come back, yeah.
Well, do I hope this is not the only time I'm in here this week and hope to see you every week.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Colin, thank you very much.

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