Colin Montgomerie British Open Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2002, 4:00 pm
STEWART McDOUGAL: Ladies and gentlemen we have Colin Montgomerie in for an interview. Thank you for coming. Give us a summary about your preparations for this new championship. How is it going.
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The same as I did last year really, I hope to finish 12 places higher. I practiced last night. I started at 4:00, as I did at Lytham and it worked very well. There was no one around. I was the only one on the golf course and I finished at 8:30 last night. I was hearing you a lot in one of the tents so thank you for coming in so early, 9:00.
 
It's worked well. I played well the last day, especially at Loch Lomond and it's always good to do that. If I was, say, third and finished 14th as I did, I would be disappointed, but coming up from 50th to 14th is positive. And I played well yesterday evening and look forward to it. The course itself is in immaculate condition and rightly rated as our top British course. This course, I believe is the best one in the lot, and we have a lot of good ones. I believe Loch Lomond is the best inland course we have, and this is the best links course that we have and rightly ranked in the top in the top five in the world as it has been for many many years.
 
Q. (Inaudible)
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's a matter of getting the whole thing together. When that happens, I tend to do quite well.
 
Q. Why is that here? Do you see yourself doing what you did last year?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I plan on contending. Of course I do. It's just a matter of getting everything together. The first three days at Loch Lomond my game wasn't good and then it all came good in the last day and then I lost my putting. So it's one of these things that swings around about. If I can just get the whole thing together, yes, of course we'll contend. That's the thing we have to practice on today. Whether I'll play today, I'm not sure. I just need to get into a frame of mind that I'm confident of all aspects of the game on the first tee.
 
Q. If you can get things going (inaudible) --
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Definitely. Even more so north of the border than it was south of the border. But, yes, to birdie the first two holes last year at the Championship spurred things on and kept it going the whole week, which was fantastic support, especially around 6 under after 10. The whole thing was just progressing well and I hope for the same support, if not better, as I say, north of the border.
 
Q. I know you said the other day -- (inaudible) --
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, possibly the last time I came here in '92 I just had done well in the U.S. Open and had just lost out to Peter O'Malley at the Scottish Open, and I was obviously one of the favorites here and this year possibly, not in that same light, but at the same time I am 10 years more experienced and I think that will stand in good stead, that I'm not seen to be one of the top favorites and that's actually quite a benefit sometimes.
 
Q. Straight hitter, and that is absolutely paramount here; isn't it?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is paramount here, more than most. The course, as I said, is set up very very well. We played this course 10 years ago, as I said, and most of us were still using wooden clubs and very different distance of golf balls and stuff. We were worried in case this course was too short or whatever, but having played it yesterday and having to figure out 2-irons or 3-irons or even 4-irons off the tees, the course is amply long enough and a fantastic condition, but you do have to put the ball in the fairway. They've done well on the 1st hole. They've really done well there, because that's the narrowest fairway on the course, a fearsome opening tee shot. The second shot opens up actually, but it's to put your tee shot within range of the green and they've done that very very well.
 
Q. When you first saw the draw -- obviously you look for your own name - but do you then hope that you're close to Tiger because he has the reputation -- (inaudible)?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Let's hope this time, with all respect to him, it does work the other way around, because I'm exactly opposite times to him, to the minute. So let's hope so. I think the weather is set sort of fair. There doesn't seem to be any extraordinary weather due. But no breeze or a little breeze here makes a big difference and to certain holes. Last night there was very little breeze and it was good to practice in conditions like that. The first thing you do is look for the time. The time is the most important thing. It doesn't really matter and it shouldn't matter who you are paired with. The time is the most important thing, and I like to actually go late/early, to get the whole thing over and done with as opposed to early/late. You have got a whole day in between your times and I don't really like that as much.
 
Q. How has your back been holding up?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, my back is a concern obviously but at the same time, it was fine yesterday and played around okay and I take it day by day and it's okay right now. If this is real wood, I'll touch it and be okay.
 
Q. Are you on an exercise regime?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I am on one and it's very well, I have a 12-month program and I'm only in the first few weeks of that and the big test will be sort of a comeback next year and everything will be clear, and that's what I plan on having done.
 
Q. Is it stretching or pumping iron?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Stretching mainly. It's all too tight, so I have to stretch out.
 
Q. Are you on one of your intermittent diets? You look leaner, trimmer, fitter (inaudible).
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's not. Thank you very much.
 
I have lost weight. When I came to this tournament last year, I was two and a half stone heavier than I am here. And it does affect the swing and the pace of swing and the contact and what have you. I'm happier at this weight. I was told to lose weight because of back problems and have done so. I've got a bit to go and I actually look forward to it now. I've got into sort of a regime now and a routine that I enjoy.
 
Q. What is your weight?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm just under 15 stone.
 
Q. Are you down to your fighting weight?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would rather go lower, but it's not bad from what it was before.
 
Q. (Inaudible) tell us what you did after Sunday.
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Rested. I did putt well at all at Loch Lomond. I shot a 66 the last day, but I putted very very poorly, and now with my new putting technique, if you like, I've just got to go with it. There's very little practice that can be done once you aim and the correct posture, and what have you, so it's not the same as it used to be, where I only had my hands to blame, if you like. Now there are three points of contacts, the body, the two hands and into my belly. There's little need for practice as opposed to pace. The pace was just off, so coming from greens that were quite quick at Loch Lomond to greens that are slower here or different grass or different pace, there's very little reason to practice.
 
Q. Do you look back on last year as an opportunity missed?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, very much so. I know I won't get many opportunities of winning majors, and that was one that was missed. I think David Duval took that opportunity on with Tiger not performing last year. It was an opportunity for everybody. He took it. I didn't.
 
Q. What do you take from that for this year?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, we hope Tiger doesn't perform, for one, and then we all will have an opportunity, and let's hope that I can take the opportunity this year, if that door happens to be open, but if he plays the way he has been and is doing, we all believe that the opportunity won't arise, but let's hope it does.
 
Q. If you play your best and he plays his best?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He wins.
 
Q. Nine times out of 10 or 10 times out of 10?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Something like that.
 
(LAUGHTER)
 
Q. (Inaudible)
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's my what?
 
Q. 13th opportunity -- (inaudible)
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I never knew that. Okay, it might be lucky. You never know. But I'm not really, no.
 
Q. Just as the Europeans (inaudible)?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure.
 
Q. Do you believe that yourself or other British or European golfers (inaudible)?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's just coincidence, to be honest with you. Augusta is very different even for the American players. It's a very different course for everybody and it's not their type of rough and it's not their type of shots, shot-making skills that they have to perform week in and week out in the U.S. tour, so it's very different for them, which helps us at Augusta. Here, I believe that the rough has become more severe over the years and the courses are longer, lusher and playing more into Americans hands than it is ours. But in saying that, it's purely really coincidence that they happen to have at the time the best players in the world and they tend to come to the fore in championships of this quality. We all said that St. Andrews was a bit of a lottery because it was so dry and who's going to win there, anybody can win there. It's funny, the last group was No. 1 and 2 in the world. So it proves that the course stood the test and I envision this to be something similar.
 
Q. How much does length matter here?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, everything seems to narrow up considerably. I mean, I'm quite fortunate that the caddy I have now, Andy Prodger (ph) won this event with Nick in 1987, and it's always nice to have a caddy that has won an Open. He's won a couple, but at the same time around the same course, and it's amazing how he was plodding his way around yesterday with me as if he was with me in 1987, and the course hasn't changed that much from the tee. I think there is only one new tee, I believe, since then. We position our ball and I don't think length is so critical at this event as it has been in the past.
 
Q. Even if it's not done deliberately, is this a (inaudible)?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: This isn't a deliberate move not at all. It's just the way the course has been designed. There are a lot of 2-irons and 3-irons off the tees, and obviously his greatest asset is not just his length, but his straight length, and that tends to take away that. But we said St. Andrews was fast and anyone could win there. He won by eight or whatever it was, so we'll see how it goes.
 
Q. What advice would you give Justin Rose?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was just about to answer your question, what advice would I give to Tiger. Advice to give to who?
 
Q. Justin Rose.
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: He is playing with Tiger. He has to play his own game. Do you know, I've said before and I'll say again, he's not going to beat Tiger in length. He is a not going to beat him on mental skills or mental ability or putting or chipping whatever. The only way to beat Tiger is to score a lower score. That's it. The that's the only way you can beat him, is to shoot lower, and Justin is in the same boat as another 155. We all have to do the same thing.
 
Q. How many people in the field would you expect would have a legitimate shot to contend and assuming the weather stays fairly mild, how low would you expect the scores and last, what advice do you have for Tiger?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Right, we'll be a while. There is a northerly wind to blow here. It's to be dry, I believe, but a northerly wind to blow which is quite tough, and I reckon you won't find the scores any lower than 10 under to win. Now forgive me for your other two questions.
 
Q. How many people --
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, sorry. You look at the top 20 in the world and that's generally, apart from Carnoustie, which was a unique occasion, if you like. But over the last 10 years, if you look at the top 20 in the world, and generally that's -- you win it from that, who can contend and who can compete and who can win. There is plenty of people who can contend. Don't get me wrong. Winning is another thing. Who can make a four at the last. Who can finish with five pars to win. Plenty of people can contend up to that stage, but who can actually take that forward step, and there is very few, and I reckon 20 out of 156 competitors are capable of doing that.
 
Q. And no advice for Tiger?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sven here could actually say something, but not me. No advice at all.
 
Q. (Inaudible)?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Definitely, yes, and I would expect that and want that, definitely, yes, there are playing to go and places not to go, you know.
 
Q. Give us some examples.
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There are a few places. It's difficult to sort of name an example now. The last time I played the course was 10 years ago, you know. So it's difficult to say, but there is the odd circumstance where he mentioned where it was, and how he got out of it, and how he got around the situation, because you can't put your ball in the right place all the time, but it's putting the ball into the place where we can make five from and not six, if you know what I mean.
 
Q. Are any of those places, Colin, notable for being shorter than you were in?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not necessarily. The course was playing quite long last night. It was drizzly. It was wet and damp and one of these heavy days where the ball wasn't flying very far and on the fairway as well, so there wasn't any particular instance that I felt I was 20 yards past him or 30 yards past him, no, not at all. He was a lot longer in '87 than he is now.
 
Q. Who decides whether you play today?
 
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If depends how I practice. I want to go out and see a hole that I wasn't happy with last night. It tends to bend the wrong way, the 6th hole. It goes right to left off the tee and I would like to go have a look at that again and find out my aim. It's a very difficult hole to get your aim on. There's nothing there but a bunch of hay in front of you, so you can't really see the fairway, so I want to go out and see that again and chip and putt around and get a feel for the pace of the greens and that type of thing. I probably won't play today.
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Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.


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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”


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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.


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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1