An interview with Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie sat with the press Thursday to discuss his success at the Ryder Cup in years past.
September 15, 2004
JULIUS MASON: Colin Montgomerie, ladies and gentlemen, playing in his seventh Ryder Cup Matches. Good morning, Colin.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good morning.
JULIUS MASON: Some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q&A please.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why don't we just go to Q&A.
JULIUS MASON: I like your style. Questions, folks.
Q. To start with the obvious first, how do you --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: How obvious is this going to be?
Q. Pretty damn obvious.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If it's that obvious we are all waiting for this, come on. (Laughter.)
Q. How do you explain your amazingly successful record in this event?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Was that that obvious, was it? It's all downhill from here.
I have a reasonable record here. I think I've been very fortunate in the partners that I've managed to obtain over the years. Been very fortunate with the likes of playing with legends of European golf in Bernhard Langer and Nick Faldo for a while. I was lucky there. They taught me an awful lot.
The one thing I am proud of is my singles, my singles record, not having lost, if you like. I've been very close a number of times but I haven't lost. And that record I'm proud of.
But I don't know why it should be. I don't like to lose, I don't think, really, and that's kept me going.
Q. When people, their divorce is finalized and they have different emotions, they are either disappointed or upset or frustrated or kind of relieved, any of those emotions or is it just a formality?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay, excuse me here for one second. I'm here as part of a European Team and I'm here for a team competition this week. And if you would like to please keep your questions to a team format and if you don't mind, no personal questions will be answered here. I don't mean to be rude in any way, I just, I'm here for a team event and if you keep your questions to a team format, that would be great, thank you.
Q. On a different subject.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, thank you for that.
Q. Wonder if you could talk a little bit about in '99, it was a tough event for you and for your teammates. How do you deal with that, if it comes up again this week, and a second question, totally different, Mickelson has switched clubs two weeks before, driver and three of his woods, I wonder how you feel about things like that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I'll answer your second question first, and you'll have to ask Phil regarding that. That has no interest in our team room at all.
Your first question regarding Brookline, I think that's been spoken about an awful lot and probably overanalyzed and overwritten about. I don't think we're going to have that problem here.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Why? Because I think that was -- that's been done and that's a thing of the past. I think that Hal Sutton made a very good comment and answered the question very well in his press conference yesterday, I believe. I was watching on television and he answered the question very well and if you want to go back to what he said, I think he said everything in a very, very fair and very well thought out way. I don't think that Brookline will appear again. I think the world is a different place, a better place since then. I don't think we'll have that situation at all.
Q. Speaking of overanalyzing, we look at stats and say, you know, that no European player on this team has won any major championships and who has won tournaments this year and all that stuff.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah.
Q. Does any of that really matter when it comes to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I don't think it really does, to be honest. And I'm not saying that because there's no European that's won a major this year, I'm not saying that because of that fact. I don't think it does matter, to be honest. I think it's the eight guys that play on Friday morning, it's very important how they can handle themselves under the severest of pressure. I'm not saying that major championships aren't pressure. I've been in situations where it has been quite pressurized, but nothing prepares you for this.
It's a unique situation and I don't think that winning majors or doing well in majors can prepare you for what's to be had on Friday morning, especially.
Q. Can you explain what is the difference, just because you're not playing for yourself?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, the whole difference is that you're playing for, you know, in a European sense, not just for your country, but your continent, but also more importantly, for your 11 other teammates and also your captain. We're a very close-knit team and that's where the pressure builds from. It's actually not letting down your 11 other teammates. We are used to letting down ourselves on a regular basis week-in and week-out. In this situation, we're not and it's different. You do not want to let down 11 other guys that have tried and qualified and are giving their all as well. So that's where the pressure comes from.
Q. In answering your first question you talked about how both Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer kind of taught you in the early days when you were playing in this event.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Is your role a dual role now in the fact that you've been doing this for so long that you are going to be imparting some of your knowledge to some of the younger players? And how comfortable or you with that dual role?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I do enjoy this competition. It's obvious for everyone here to see and to witness, and I have enjoyed it over the years. I enjoy that position I have. I was the leader of the pack in Europe for a while I suppose through these seven years of mine and I took on that role towards the end of that time and have now, and I enjoy it. I enjoy it. I think it's in my character and my personality that comes out in this event. I really do enjoy it.
Usually when you enjoy something, you're usually quite good at it. That falls in for me here. Yes, I've been speaking to rookies, as, of course, as Captain Langer has as well. I think we're preparing in a very, very positive and a very, very good way and we should be ready by the time Friday morning springs around.
Q. Some of your teammates, Darren yesterday, among a couple of guys, talked about the European side as an underdog and it seems like often you guys do fancy yourselves as underdogs. I wonder if you feel that way now and particularly because it's a home match, so to speak, for the U.S.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is strange to think of fancying ourselves as underdogs. It is a strange type of thing to be involved with, to fancy yourselves as underdogs.
At the same time, we have come into these matches as underdogs most of the time. I don't think this is any different. We're playing away from home and we're underdogs. We'll start that way and then hopefully after about two hours, it might be different. (Laughter.)
Q. Just as a follow-up, again, personally, the importance of this event to you, speaking to Captain Langer yesterday, he said he felt because of where you grew up and how important these matches have always been, maybe that kind of seeped into your mentality when you were younger, is that kind of where that came in or did it really start once you started playing these events?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, personally, personally, this event means absolutely nothing to me. Never has.
Q. I don't understand.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: And actually never will, personally. I'm here part of a team. And Bernhard selected me as a wild card pick to help the team cause. He felt that I could help his team gain the 14 or 14 and a half points that we require to win. That's my job this week.
It doesn't matter who attains the points this week. It doesn't matter on our team who gains five points, three points, two points. It all adds up to 14 and a half hopefully at the end of the day. The same can be said, I'm sure, for the U.S. Team. But it doesn't matter who gets the points.
So personally, my personal record in this event is meaningless to me. I'm just glad that I've been part of, in my six previous Ryder Cups, I've been privileged to win three times.
Q. As a voice of experience on this team and a focus of this team the last couple of years, how is that different being a captain's pick, compared to previous years where you were the top points earner, for example?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it is different in the way I qualified this year by not qualifying.
Q. Well said.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: So it has been different, but at the same time, I feel very much part of the team and my team, the 11 others have supported me tremendously. I feel very much part of that and I'm there -- as that other question came through, I'm there in many roles this week, I suppose. Hopefully I can prove myself on the golf course and off it for the team cause.
But at the same time, I'm here in many roles to try and help Europe get 14 and a half points. That's why I'm here.
Q. Hal has said that he will not tell his players who they are playing with until the 11th hour, just before he has to announce the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. A, did you know that; B, have you ever been involved in a team where that has been done; and C, what do you think of it? And before you answer the question, I think you're going to say it's their team and not ours?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, that was very good, John, you should actually come up here and answer your own question, really. It would be easier, wouldn't it? (Laughter.) Save us all a bit of time.
I have been in situations where captains have made an 11th hour decision, especially during matches that the captain might have had an idea of who is playing in the afternoon and then suddenly something goes a bit of awry in the morning and then you have to have contingency plans available to change. That happened the last time when I was playing with Bernhard and I had to find another partner for Saturday afternoon. Padraig Harrington became my partner on that occasion and we did particularly well.
But at the same time, you have to have contingency plans available. Everything, the best laid plans out here for a Ryder Cup, you can't stick -- you can't just stick to them. You have to be able to have other ideas and other pairings up one's sleeve so that things might be going wrong on the golf course and somebody might feel a little more uncomfortable than he might have thought.
So, yes, I think we'd know -- I think our team would know what we're doing Friday morning in advance. I don't think we'd know what's happening 100% Friday afternoon. And I think that's only right, for a captain to have that option.
Q. What are 6 37s?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I actually haven't actually got to that stage. I do my 37 times table on the first tee. I tend to have this cue that I take my mind off what I was doing and I did that in the singles last time and I got to, I think 3, which was good, before my name was announced, thank goodness, because I didn't know what 4 was.
So to answer your question, 6, you'd have to have a calculator, I'm afraid.
Q. Is it 228?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it might well be.
Q. You state rather plainly that the Europeans are underdogs, yet they have won three of last Ryder Cups. To call them underdogs would be silly, so how can you state plainly that the Europeans are the underdogs?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. I think our whole basis of world golf now is based on an official list of World Rankings, and if you add up those World Ranking, we are heavily, heavily underdogs again. The advantage here is of course it's not a stroke-play event, it's 18-hole match-play and it's pretty quick 18-hole match-play. We tend to figure that we have more opportunity in an 18-hole match-play than we would normally in a stroke-play event, so might be slightly more even. But at the same time, we are playing away from home, and on a U.S. Open/U.S. PGA style golf course. We haven't won a U.S. Open or a U.S. PGA for a very long time, Europeans; and therefore, I think we start as slight underdogs, but that's always the case. We started slight underdogs possibly at The Belfry two years ago. I think we start the same situation here.
Q. To follow-up on an earlier question, not talking about one player in particular but golfers in general, switching equipment before big events or any time during the course of a season, how much of an effect does changing equipment matter to professional players or are you so good that you can play with anything?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think the equipment situation is, you know, it's like cars now, really, I suppose. There's very few bad cars made now. There's very few bad anything made right now. Competition is so high and so strong that there's very few bad anything put together. I think golf clubs and balls and equipment are the same, so I don't think there's that much of an effect that there was.
But at the same time, that's a question, I know what you're trying to ask, and you're asking the wrong person. That's a question for one of the U.S. Team to answer and not me.
Q. Watching you yesterday during the practice round, you were smiling a lot, acknowledging the gallery, you really seemed like you were enjoying it this time around and relishing, are you smelling the roses or how are you approaching it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, there's few flowers out there, so there's not many roses to smell. But at the same time, I do enjoy this competition, it's obvious to you and to my teammates that I do enjoy this competition. There's no doubt that that's the case. I do enjoy the team environment, the team spirit that we have and I just try to aid that along. I like being here. Especially as a sort of wild card pick, it's a bonus, it's an honor to be part of this team and I am enjoying myself, totally.
Q. Two questions, please. One, how worried were you if at all, that Bernhard would not pick you or did you genuinely deep down feel that he would?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Everyone at home, I don't know whether it was said here, but everyone at home assumed that I was going to be selected for this team. I didn't know officially until about half an hour before the announcement was made just two weeks ago that I was on the team. So you're always a little bit on edge just in case Bernhard has a different view.
I knew that I had nothing to prove to Bernhard. Over the year, we've played since 1991 together in these matches, 13 years we have been sort of partners on and off in this event. We even played the UBS Cup together last year and we won both our games. So he knows what I can do in this situation, and it was up to him. The ball was put in his court, if you like, and I'm glad he served an ace.
Q. Looking down the road in your life, whether it be 10, 15, 20 years from now, how much would you desire one day to be a captain of the European Team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I hope it might happen before 20 years, if it is going to happen. At the same time, it would be a fantastic honor for me. When and if that situation ever arises, I will obviously do my utmost to captain a European Team. It's the greatest honor that could be bestowed on any European or U.S. professional golfer in my opinion.
If that ever happens along the way, I'll be greatly honored.
Q. Every American golf fan I know, not just assumed you would be on the team, but would have been devastated if you weren't and are delighted that you were. They couldn't imagine a Ryder Cup without you. Your identity in this country is so wrapped in this event; how do you feel about that? Would you be content if that's your legacy golfing-wise?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, very much I suppose, you know, I won the sort of money title, the Money List or I don't know what you call it over here, the same thing we have, it's an Order of Merit-type thing, I won that a few times. I've played seven of these Ryder Cups and I have a reasonable record, and that would be a fantastic legacy if I go down like that. The major championship business, I've been quite close a number of occasions and just haven't managed to walk through a half-open door unfortunately. One of these things.
But if it happens from now on, I don't know. If the golfing gods are smiling on me one day, it might well happen. If that is my legacy about this competition, I'll be very glad to take that with me.
Q. Phil Mickelson was in here earlier and he was asked about you and your record here.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. And he said that record, maybe it's best that we shouldn't piss him off and maybe shouldn't agitate him too much. That's obviously a record to this crowd. If anything naughty does go on, does it inspire you or the Europeans to play better if anything happens?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I think you've answered that question really yourself. I don't think it's just me that it might upset or might rile or whatever you might say. I think the whole team, if someone has been upset or whatever, we take it as a team. We take it together as a team, and I think we'll all build on that, if you like and it does tend to go in our favor.
Bernhard has everything planned and everything has been worked out and everything has been as I thought it would be. We are prepared for any eventuality, but as I said to your colleague behind, I don't feel that that will happen in any way.
Of course, the cheers will be louder if an American putt goes in or whatever and that's obvious; we are playing away from home. I do hope, and saying this to everybody here, I do hope that good golf will be applauded, and that's why this competition is what it is. This competition is what it is because there's two great teams playing, very well-matched. It would not be a competition if it wasn't for the other side, and we have to remember that.
Let's hope that good golf is applauded, and I know it's a cliche, but let's hope that golf wins again here this week.
Q. We know about Friday morning the golf will start but so much goes on during this week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. And it must take a lot of nervous energy and mental energy away from your preparation for the golf, so how do you personally deal with that? Do you read or listen to music or do all of the team guys have to play ping pong together or what do you do for this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it is true, this week is kind of different for me. But at the same time, the lads we have, we have a good group together and I'm talking about all sort of 25 of us this week together in the team environment and the team room and we have good assistants with us for the European cause. You saw our plane arrive in on Monday and it was full of a European cause, if you like. We were all on that plane together for a cause, to try and gain 14 and a half points and bring back something that we had brought with us very precious to Europe and the European Tour as a whole.
It was a great honor for us to hold the Ryder Cup and we've been trying our best to retain it.
So everything is done to further that cause, and we're a very close-knit unit together, we are all working for each other and we are all playing as a team and that's probably why we do quite well in this event.
Q. How do you explain your incredible weight loss and has it helped your game? And will it help the team then?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yeah, good question. I don't know. I decided I suppose that I would try and lose a bit of weight and it worked. I lost, I don't know what, 30-odd, 36 pounds or something since the Open. You see the scale go down one pound and the will power goes a different way. You can further it easier. But at the same time it has not affected my golf in any way. I just feel a little bit better about myself and self-esteem is huge in this game, especially when you're out in public an awful lot. So self-esteem is huge and confidence and I feel better about myself and fitter and whether it helped the team can only be seen on Sunday. If I gain some points, well of course it will help the team. So that's why I'm here. But it wasn't done for the team cause on this particular occasion.
Q. Do you think it will change the crowd's perception of you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it does. I think it's seen as -- I think it is seen as a crowd perception. I think you're right there, it's a positive outlook to crowds in general. I'm getting a lot of positive crowd reaction out there. I look forward to my round again today.
JULIUS MASON: Colin Montgomerie, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...
- Team U.S.A. (9/19/04)
- Team Europe (9/19/04)
- McGinley & Harrington (9/18/04)
- Clarke, Garcia, Westwood, & Donald (9/18/04)
- Bernhard Langer - Afternoon (9/18/04)
- Hal Sutton - Afternoon (9/18/04)
- Toms & Mickelson (9/18/04)
- Chris DiMarco (9/18/04)
- Bernhard Langer (9/18/04)
- Hal Sutton (9/18/04)
- Casey & Howell (9/18/04)
- Stewart Cink (9/18/04)
- Garcia & Westwood (9/18/04)
- Haas & DiMarco (9/18/04)
- Chad Campbell (9/18/04)
- Colin Montgomerie (9/17/04)
- Chris Riley (9/18/04)
- Woods & Riley (9/18/04)
- Clarke & Poulter (9/18/04)
- Europe Secure Ryder Cup After Singles Success
- EUROPE WIN THE RYDER CUP
- All the Drama from the Final Afternoon
- Europe Take Record Lead into Singles
- Langer's men set for singles showdown
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