Colin Montgomerie British Open Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 18, 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.
 
STEWART McDOUGAL: Colin, thank you very much.
 
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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.