Colin Montgomerie British Open Press Conference Transcript
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.
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.
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.
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.
McIlroy making big statement in first start of 2018
Rory McIlroy marched the fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club Saturday with that fighter pilot stride of his, with that confident little bob in his step that you see when he is in command of his full arsenal of shots.
So much for easing into the new year.
So much for working off rust and treating these first few months of 2018 as a warmup for the Masters and his bid to complete the career Grand Slam.
McIlroy, 28, is poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
With back-to-back birdies to close his round, McIlroy put up a 7-under-par 65, leaving him just one shot off the lead going into the final round.
“It’s good,” McIlroy said. “I probably scored a bit better today, short game was needed as well, but I hit the ball very well, so all in all it was another great round and confidence builder, not just for this week but obviously for the rest of the season as well.”
McIlroy can make a strong statement with a win Sunday.
If he claims the title in his first start of the year, he sends a message about leaving all the woes of 2017 behind him. He sends a message about his fitness after a nagging rib injury plagued him all of last year. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game’s best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.
After his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro, McIlroy is eager to show himself, as well as everyone else, that he is ready to challenge for major championships and the world No. 1 title again.
“It feels like awhile since I’ve won,” McIlroy said. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
A victory would be all the more meaningful because the week started with McIlroy paired with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and reigning European Tour Player of the Year Tommy Fleetwood.
McIlroy acknowledged the meaning of that going into Saturday’s round.
“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy,” he said. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and one of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”
It’s worth repeating what 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman said last month about pairings and the alpha-dog nature of the world’s best players. He was talking about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge, when Immelman said pairings matter, even in off season events.
“When you are the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Immelman said. “They want to show this guy, `This is what I got.’”
A victory with Johnson in the field just two weeks after Johnson won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in an eight-shot rout will get the attention of all the elite players.
A victory also sets this up as a January for the ages, making it the kind of big-bang start the game has struggled to create in the shadow of the NFL playoffs.
Johnson put on a tour-de-force performance winning in Hawaii and the confident young Spaniard Jon Rahm is just a shot off the lead this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia is just two off the lead going into the final round of the Singapore Open. Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines next week.
To be sure, McIlroy has a lot of work to do Sunday.
Yet another rising young talent, Thomas Pieters, shares the lead with Ross Fisher. Fleetwood is just two shots back and Johnson five back.
McIlroy has such a good history at Abu Dhabi. Over the last seven years, he has finished second four times and third twice. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year.
“I have never won my first start back out,” McIlroy said.
A strong start, whether he wins or not, sets McIlroy up well for the ambitious schedule he plans for 2018. He’s also scheduled to play the Dubai Desert Classic next with the possibility he’ll play 30 times this year, two more events than he’s ever played in a year.
“I’m just really getting my golf head back on,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been really pleased with that.”
A victory Sunday will make all our heads spin a little b it with the exciting possibilities the game offers this year.
Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open
SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.
The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.
Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.
Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.
''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''
The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.
''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''
Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.
''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.
Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.
He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.
Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.
Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.
He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.
Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.
McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54
Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.
McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.
McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.
McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.
Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.
“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.
Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.
''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''
First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.
''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''
David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.
The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''