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July 24, 2013

Colin Montgomerie


STEVE TODD:  Thank you for joining us.  Talk about your experience so far playing on the Seniors Tour.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† It's been an eye‑opener, the standard of golf, and yet it's been a lot of fun.¬† I've been welcomed over in America tremendously well, and I look forward to continuing in that vein and doing well here.
As England's top links golf course, if not Britain's top links golf course, it's in great condition.  The recent weather has made it into a true links test and a very fair one, and the greens are super, and just a hair softer than Muirfield was last week, which is fantastic, and I look forward to trying to compete again and contend and trying to win.
STEVE TODD:  And the nice draw.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Tremendous, Freddie Couples has been the defending champion, Mark O'Meara having won here in '98, so I've got a good draw, a good tee time, and I look forward to it.
Staying alongside them for the first two days, I'll be in contention no doubt, and if I can do that, I'll be happy.

Q.  How much do you feel like the new boy on the block and does that give you butterflies in your stomach as if you're starting out all over again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† It does, slightly, I felt brand new in Pittsburgh, 50 years old, very strange, and glad that I played the two in America before here.¬† This is the most important event of the year for a British over‑50‑year‑old player.¬† This is the most important event that we play in and the biggest one.
So I'm glad that I've played in two in America and got those butterflies and those new boy school ways off the chest, and I'm looking forward to it here.
I feel part of it now, and that's important.  It's a good feeling to have.  It's a feeling that I thought I would have where I tee up on the first tee with a chance of winning.
On the last few years on the European PGA TOUR, I felt if I played well, I could finish in the top 5, just, if everything goes to plan.  I feel that now I can really have an opportunity of winning, and it's a belief change and it's a good one.

Q.  You mentioned that you fancied your prospects, I can't remember the words, of winning a senior major.  After having experienced a couple of tournaments, how difficult do you think that's going to be?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  It's always difficult to win major championships, it always is.  There's more players over 50 than there are under 50, so the competition is extremely high.
You've always got to be a bit fortunate to win any golf tournament too, especially, any major with the way the courses are set up.  I finished my eighth in my first major in America and 30th in the U.S. Open, which was disappointing there.  I didn't putt very well.  I have to improve around the greens and that's what I'm working on now.
Hopefully I wasn't too late.  I've been working on that now to save the shots that I've been, say, a couple of shot per round have been going away just around the greens.  And I found that playing alongside David Frost and Bernhard Langer and those guys still are very, very good around the greens.  That's an area of my game that has to improve to be able to fully contend for these Majors.
But it's interesting that Freddie Couples, defending champion, in his exhibit at the World Golf Hall of Fame, placed the replica of this trophy here, last year's trophy, in the exhibit in the World Golf Hall of Fame, because he was very proud of his achievement of winning the Senior Open.  It meant very much to him, as it would to me; as it would to anybody who wins here.

Q.  I believe you've got a new old caddie on the bag, Alastair.  How has that come about?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† He was jet‑skiing off the coast of North Carolina.¬† I felt that was a big misuse of his talents.¬† You should see him jet‑ski; it's bloody awful.
Of my 31 Tour wins, I believe 25 of them were with Alastair; so we know what to do.  We know together how to win, and when you see the relationship between Bones and Phil Mickelson last week, and how close they are, and what a team that has been over the years.  And Alastair has caddied for me for 11 years of my professional career, half my time.
I just felt it was right that we should try and get together here.  And he's 57 himself, so it's only right and proper that we try and win Majors that we came very close to doing properly, and now in the Seniors events.  It would be lovely to see, for his sake, as much as mine, to try and win a major together.  We've been very, very close over the years and all my Orders of Merit came with Alastair on the bag, all eight of them.
We know what to do together.  It's just a matter of piecing it all together at the right time and place.

Q.  I know you played The Open Qualifying at Gullane; have you played anywhere else coming in here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† It wasn't really links practise at Gullane.¬† It was trying to qualify for Muirfield and I was going great and ran out of steam, playing with the jet‑lag and what‑have‑you, coming back over from the states.
I was at Muirfield all last week and I was watching with interest.  I wasn't commentating there, but I was watching with interest there, players, went on the course a couple of times and watching with interest the links golf, because that was the test of links golf we'll ever have.
It's amazing, the standard around the greens; Phil, that's why Phil Mickelson won.  Not just 17 and 18, but what a pitch shot and what a putt he hit at 16 to keep the momentum going to allow him to birdie 17 and 18.
This is what I have not been doing.¬† I've in the been one‑holing the momentum putts or pitching the ball or chipping the ball to the standards that I used to have.¬† So that's something I'm working on.

Q.  Are you working with anyone on your short game?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† No, I know what I'm doing now‑‑ you get a coach or whatever the case may be, and I've been working with Paul Marchand on the long game and that's coming good.¬† I'm very happy with what I'm doing tee‑to‑green, very happy, as happy as I've ever been.
The short game, I know what to do; it's just a matter of doing it.  Nobody can really tell me anything new.  I know it all and I remind myself sometimes of what I used to do and how to do it and what have you.  That's what I've been doing on the practise range, there's two great chipping areas now.  There used to be one and they put a new one in in the fabulous practise facility and I've been doing that this morning.

Q.¬† The R&Alast week ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ you hate slow play‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† I played alongside Tom Watson yesterday in the Pro‑Am, and he gets on with it, as well.¬† He tees on with it and goes.¬† His caddie is clubbing distance while he's swinging; that's that doesn't happen enough.¬† Pace of play was far, far, too slow, and one particular chap, unfortunately a Japanese player, got a shot penalty and I have to tell you, he wasn't far off the least.¬† He finished in the Top‑10 himself.
What we would love to see, as a fast player, knowing it might not ever happen to me is one of the top players to have that shot penalty and then it would really resonate through the rest of the field, if one of the top guys finally, finally was found out.  You know, because we are still taking too long.
Yes, it was better at The Open, I think getting around in four hours 45, which is, wow, we are breaking four or five hours, we are getting somewhere.  We should be playing in no less than four hours; or rather, no more than four hours we should be taking to play a round of golf, any round of golf, any course.  And unfortunately, we are given far, far, too long to play the game.
The only way around it is, as at The Open, that we have a referee with every match, with the nearly 60 or 50‑odd games, there's 52 matches.¬† There's 52 referees and every referee should put their players on the clock from word go.¬† And that is the only way we are going to get around in the allotted time of four hours and ten minutes or four hours‑‑

Q.  Everybody?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Everybody.  Well, the group is on the clock from the first tee.  Bloody hell, fancy that.  We are on the clock, as soon as Ivor announces, you should be on the clock.  Why do you have to wait to be slow before you're put on the clock?  There's 52 referees out there, and they should all have a clock and at major championships they should all be able to put yourself on the chock from the first tee, and then you will get around in time.

Q.  (There has been talk of a shot clock).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Well, it's been interesting, that's been mentioned.¬† 24 seconds is very quick because that's half the time we are allowed.¬† But whatever shot clock that is, yes, there should be an allotted time to play the game.¬† A bit like chess; you've got enough time to play your particular pieces, and I think that's something like that‑‑ what I'm saying is something like that.
But every game should be put on the clock from the word go.¬† Well, we are not going to get around in time, are we?¬† The trouble is, I think it was the last tournament that was played or something, the first group or first two groups took five hours to play, whatever it might have been.¬† Well, then the day is gone; especially if you have a one‑tee start like they do at The Open, the day is gone.¬† You can't make it up.¬† But if that first group is taking four hours, five minutes, allotted time, well, then we've got half a chance.¬† On the clock from the first tee forward.¬† New method.

Q.  Do you find pace of play better in America?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Very good question, very similar really.  Very similar.  I think that there's no difference.  We all take too long.  You've got the Japanese Tour, the South African, the Australian, whatever it might be, we are all taking too long.
You can say what you want about belly putters and what‑have‑you, but the biggest buzz kill in golf is slow play, it's killing the game.

Q.  How did you find your reception in the U.S.?

Q.  You're going to play more there now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Yes, it was very warm‑‑ in fact, it was a hundred degrees‑‑

Q.¬† I didn't mean Fahrenheit‑‑
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Very welcomed, very welcomed, yeah, yeah.  It used to be it 'Go home, Monty' and now it's 'Go, Monty,' it's fantastic.  They have dropped the 'home.'  I think it's super (laughter).
And I look forward to going back.  I'm back there next week again.  I'm in Minnesota next week.  I'm going after this and I'm there for a month again, and I really look forward to it.  Great competition.  The courses are great.  The weather is super and I look forward to it.

Q.  Are you going to take residence, too?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Not at all, no, no.¬† I think with the children still at school, at home and what‑have‑you, I'll just keep going back and forth.

Q.  Could I just take you back to having Alastair on the bag again, I know it was very difficult for you personally when the time came to part ways.

Q.  Did you worry that the friendship would suffer at that point and did you always think that maybe one day you two would get back together again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I think after 11 years together and 11 very successful years, the most successful caddie/player relationship we have had alongside Bernhard Langer and Peter Coleman possibly that we've had on the European circuit.  All good things come to an end; we got a wee bit stale, and I think if you spoke to Alastair, he would say the same thing.
It's great that that friendship has remained and been able to rekindle here.  I look forward to walking the fairways with him again.  You know, you do reminisce.  You do back a lot into what we did here, say, '91, '98.  We played two Majors here, and you do tend to remember shots that you hit and everything around these particular events.  So I look forward to working with him again.

Q.  Do you feel there's unfinished business for both of you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  We would love to win a major.  I would love to win a major, not just for myself, but for him, as well.

Q.¬† Is there a two‑year plan, a five‑year plan?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† With regard to seniors golf, I think it's more a five‑year plan than there is a two‑year plan, hopefully, if I can remain as fit as I am, that would be good.

Q.  To be successful, do you have to win a major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† Yeah, possibly, possibly, and I wouldn't say that on the regular tour.¬† But I would say that‑‑ you cannot say that about Lee Westwood, and he has not won a major, and me included out there.
But Majors are more important for me here to win and there's more emphasis on winning a major out here.  I'm still very young to this and I haven't been in contention for awhile in a golf tournament.
My last win, as you're probably aware, was The European Open at The K Club in 2007, and you know, there's six years between, just coming up six years.  A long time to not be in that winner's circle and a long time to get in that belief and idea of being right there and the feeling that that it brings.
So the more contention, I talk about being in contention, as opposed to competing; competing you're in the Top‑25; contention, you're in the Top‑5.¬† I want to try to feel, get into contention.¬† And if this doesn't happen, I've got five chances next year, and major championships that I'm playing on The Seniors Tour and I look forward to trying to win one of them yes.

Q.  A couple of years ago you made some very interesting comments about the clock tickingfor Westwood, now he's reached 40 and now it's not happened.  What's your thought?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† He's fitter than he's ever been, and he's stronger, physically, than he's ever been.¬† I think this is very difficult not to feel sorry for Lee Westwood on Sunday, very difficult.¬† A Lee Westwood fan, as what I happen to be, what I was saying there was a compliment to him and how close he's been, and at 40 years old, it's proven‑‑ Phil Mickelson is over 40, well over 40, and he's still winning Majors.
It gives him more time.  All I said was there's less time than there was, and of course I'm sticking by that.  But at the same time, he's proven again that he's knocking on the door and let's hope that one day the door opens for him.  Because nowadays if anyone deserves one ahead of anyone really, it's becoming Lee Westwood, best player in the world never to have won a major, and he's taken that baton on.
Let's hope that he can put that behind him and gain from that experience that he gained, whatever that is; if it was a negative experience, let's hope he can gain some positive from that and move on to the US PGA and try again, and that's all we're going to do.
We're going to pick up the pieces and start again, and to get into be contention on Saturday night the way he so gloriously did, finishing the way he did, playing alongside Tiger on Saturday.
I think if he was to be perfectly honest, I think we all just think he didn't play well enough.¬† His strength let him down at the end of the day.¬† He still held a lot of putts to keep him in there really, but his game tee‑to‑green let him down unfortunately.¬† And you know, being in that position myself, you know someone in those groups, whether it be Scott or wood or whoever it might have been, Mickelson, was going to shoot a good score.¬† One of them was going shoot a good score, and you have to counteract that with play of your own.¬† And he tried his best, but wasn't to be, and we just wish him well at the US PGA.

Q.  You said on last couple of years on the European Tour, you were frustrated not to win; do those frustrations go away now on the Senior Tour?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I think it's the opposite.  I really do want to win out here now, and expectation is quite high.  That's why I'm talking to you here.  So with expectation quite high, I think I've got to try and get a win under my belt here.
But as I say, the competition, it's a hair's breath from the PGA TOUR.  They can play.  Kenny Perry has been scoring 63s and 64s out there at will in the first two tournaments I've played in, and that will compete with anybody, knowing the quality of the courses and the difficulty of them.  I'm rather glad that he's managed to stay other side of the pond and he hasn't come over, giving us all a chance.
I look forward to playing with O'Meara having won The Open here and Freddie Couples the defending champion.¬† If I can stay with them over the first two days, I'll be right there in the Top‑10 with opportunity over the weekend.

Q.  Are you slightly more relaxed now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I am, much more relaxed, on and off the course, I am.  The days of intensity and the desire and ambition has reduced to an extent allowing me to play possibly better than I have for a while.
Tee‑to‑green I'm playing as well as I have, and I am more relaxed, and the need doesn't tend to be there.¬† I would love to win, of course.¬† I think winning now would be a bonus than it would be a need than it was when I was playing those years to try and win a major between '93 and 2000, yeah.

Q.  Your swing has not changed a lot, but having watched you at Gullane, do you think it's now back to what it was in your prime?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† I've been trying to get it back to the way it was.¬† I tried‑‑ I fell afoul over the last few years.¬† I fell afoul of a lot of people's issues in length.¬† I was trying to hit the ball too far.¬† I'm trying to hit the ball with a draw, trying to hit a ball so it hit the deck and started to run more and what‑have‑you.
I've been back to playing to my strengths, which was fairways and greens, as opposed to trying to hit the ball too far.  I think a lot of people from 45 to 50, especially, fall into that trap and I was one of them.
So I would love to think that the swing is back to a controlled swing and not necessarily having to hit a 7‑iron playing with PGA TOUR pros.¬† You play with Nicolas Colsaerts and see what he's hitting and you feel slightly embarrassed if he's hitting an 8 and you're hitting a 5.¬† That's not good.¬† Okay, well, let's at least hit a hard 6.¬† (Laughter).¬† You fall into the trap of trying to hit the ball a little bit too hard and with a draw and it goes further and what have you, and end up making bogeys instead of playing to your strengths.
Yeah, I fell into that trap and openly admit that.  So we are back to what we do best, so let's hope that works.

Q.  Is the biggest difference between Monty 2003 and Monty 2013, you may have already answered this part, but you're now much more laid back and enjoy the game more; would that be correct to say that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I'm enjoying the competition more than I ever have, yes, very much so.  This is different because when I'm pegging the ball up as I said, and as I said, without knowing how it's going to feel, the feeling of pegging the ball up tomorrow afternoon will be of one that I have an opportunity here to win, as opposed to treading water on the Tour thinking if all goes well I might finish, as I said earlier on, fifth, sixth, something.
It's a very different feeling and therefore, a more relaxed feeling, and I am enjoying my golf more than ever.  I'm practicing more than ever because I'm enjoying it.

Q.  Inaudible.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  You don't have to duck, you never did.  (Laughter).

Q.  If I remember right, in 2008 when the Open was last here, Kenny Perry didn't come either, does it disappoint youthat more of the top players are not here?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  I can't speak for Kenny, I don't know why or how; but having won two Majors so very well, he'd have thought he would like to make that three in a row.  I would.
So I can't speak for him, but I don't know why the situation is, family commitments or something, I don't know.  But if I won two Majors that way, and I think he was second in driving distance, as well, latest on the PGA TOUR recently; the guy is playing some of the best golf of his life.  Seems surprising that he's not here but that's not for me, it's up to him.  He's had a very good time and why not take a week off; enjoy it.

Q.  Do you intend playing a few European Tour events?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  Main Tour events, a couple towards the end of the year.  I'm playing Turkey in the course I designed, Maxx Royal, the week before The Race to Dubai, and a couple of European Senior Tour events I'm going to play in, as well as going to America.
It's great, suddenly I'm a member of three tours, you're even pure, I'm still exempt it are for that European Seniors Tour and the Champions Tour, and three weeks ago I was a member of one.  This is very rare in sport that that you get the opportunity of a complete new chapter in ones life at 50.  The only sport that I think of that you can start again and really mean it at 50, as opposed to anything else.  It's fabulous golf, very, very fortunate to have this facility, yeah.

Q.  (Inaudible.).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:¬† My draws, Hal Sutton, Bernhard Langer, I played with David Frost, these guys, so far.¬† I am a similar length to them.¬† Either two yards here or they are ahead or I'm ahead.¬† That wasn't the case in Europe.¬† I was definitely‑‑ I had two shots in a row, I was third to hit off the tee because I had made a bogey, and then I was first to hit my next one, as well.
So I always had two shots in a row on The European Tour, and it got to the stage where you've got guys‑‑ the game has changed, we all know the game's changed.¬† It's more of a bomber's game than it ever was, but I would have to say that I was 30 to 50 yards behind, and 20 yards, average, which is a lot, which is the 7‑iron into the green into a 9‑iron.¬† So a big difference when the pins are located in corners of the greens nowadays, big difference.
It was okay when the pins, when I started off, more middling of the greens, you could hit a 3‑iron in there.¬† But when they put the pins just over bunkers or sides, you want to be hitting 9‑iron and not a 7‑iron in there and that's what was happening to me.

Q.  Are you doing anything to stay fit?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE:  No, I'm very supple, I'm very lucky, I'm very he flexible and I will remain that way, hopefully.
STEVE TODD:  Thank you very much.

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