Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS interview: Colin MontgomerieJune 24, 2013
MARK WILLIAMS: Thank you, everyone, for joining us for this conference call today with Colin Montgomerie, who's going to turn 50 years old on Sunday and will be making his Champions Tour debut at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship at Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh next week. Colin, are you there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I am indeed, yes.
MARK WILLIAMS: Great. Colin, welcome and thank you for making the time on this call. Just want to get it underway, just want to ask you what sort of excitement level do you have on turning 50 on Sunday and what do you anticipate next week when you join the Champions Tour?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, you don't normally look forward to a birthday, do you, when you get towards had 50, but in golfing terms you do. We're very fortunate that in other sports you would be well gone at 50, never mind, you know.
So we're very fortunate that right now I'm a member of one Tour, which is the European Tour and a very proud member I am. And then in three days' time I'll be a member of three tours, the European Seniors Tour, I'm still a member of the European Tour, and of course I'm going to join the Champions Tour. So it's great excitement really here in our home and also for myself.
When you talk about the Champions Tour, and I've been watching more television than I would normally, Sky Sports do a very good job in broadcasting the Champions Tour over to Europe, and I'm always surprised at the level of competition and standard that the Champions Tour has.
I know Bernhard Langer very well, he's a personal friend and we've played many matches together in Ryder Cups and all sorts and I know how good he is. Although he's on top of the tree right now, the standard is quite phenomenal and I'm in no illusion at all to think that this will prove very difficult, but I look forward to the challenge of it and look forward to competing again on a level playing field.
You know, right now I'm playing against guys that are well under half my age, I've got children older than them, and it doesn't seem fair. So at least when I get to America on Monday into Pittsburgh that I feel that I'm on more of a level playing field. So to answer your question I really look forward to it.
MARK WILLIAMS: Colin, you mentioned being a member of all three tours now. When it comes to scheduling, is that going to pose any problems to you, or what do you intend to play in the United States on the Champions Tour and how much on the Europe Seniors Tour?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, say I'm playing about 20, say I play about 30 tournaments a year, say that's about average over the last few years for me. Out of that 30, I intend to play, say, 20 on the Champions Tour in America, I would play about six or seven on the European Tour, and about three on the European Seniors Tour. That would be around about the sort of percentages that would involve. So the majority, of course, would be in America, yes.
MARK WILLIAMS: And having said that, would you still continue to do your television work that you're currently doing?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I do the TV work for Sky Sports, I announce for Sky Sports on the three American majors, obviously the Masters, the U.S. PGA and the U.S. Open, and hopefully will continue to do so because there's no Champions Tour event opposite those particular events. So I look forward to announcing on that particular stage throughout 2014.
So yeah, that would keep me involved in America, it would keep me sort of in touch with what's going on more as well spending more time in America, so I look forward to it.
MARK WILLIAMS: Colin, next week obviously being your first start on the Champions Tour, can you recall or do you have any interesting moments that you can recall from your first ever start on the European Tour? I was going to say it was probably about, what, 25, 26 years ago maybe?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'm afraid it was. It was 1987, yes. It was 26 years ago now. It's amazing. You know, I'm the oldest player on the European Tour with an official Tour card, and by definition I've become the youngest obviously on Monday, so I would feel a rookie, yeah.
I haven't played many of the U.S. courses before as I hadn't when I joined the European Tour, so that would be different for me. I'd have to practice and take note of the courses more intensely than I would normally in learning the courses quickly. Okay, I've played Pebble Beach and I've played some of them, but most of them I haven't played, so that's the biggest difference between the tours.
I'm playing here in Munich right now, you've caught me in Munich playing the BMW tournament and of course I've played here for 25 years so I know the course very well. Pittsburgh, I don't know Fox Chapel, so I would be on the range and feeling a new boy very much so. I never joined the PGA TOUR full time and this is the first time that I've actually joined a tour in America and I really look forward to it, I really do. And what I've heard from people over in America, especially last week when I was over at the U.S. Open, was super. You know, people seem to be looking forward to me competing in America as I am coming over and trying to compete. So it's a fantastic opportunity for me to come over and try and play.
MARK WILLIAMS: You mentioned Pittsburgh. You don't know Fox Chapel, but you do have some experience at Oakmont. Coming back to Pittsburgh in your first event on the Champions Tour and having had that experience in that city, how do you think you'll be received by the crowds when you get there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I hope so very well. I think the Champions Tour crowd is a very different spectator audience than the normal Tour and I look forward to that. Pittsburgh, of course 1984 springs to ‑‑ 1994 springs to mind when it was very hot. I do hope it's not going to be as warm as that, that was boiling, so let's hope it's not quite as warm as 1994. And let's hope for a better result than finishing 2nd.
But at the same time, you know, it means a lot to me coming back to Pittsburgh. It's strange that the only course I played in Pittsburgh is Oakmont and I look forward to seeing the nuances of Fox Chapel. I hear the course is in excellent condition and one of the best conditioned courses that you have on the Champions Tour, so I look forward to competing.
MARK WILLIAMS: Okay. Jackie, if we have any questions in line from those on the call, they wish to ask Colin a question, please let them go ahead.
While we're waiting for a question, Colin, while they're getting set to do that, you shot 1‑under today in the first round of the BMW International.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did indeed, yeah.
MARK WILLIAMS: How would you assess your game having been on the broadcast last week with the Golf Channel and coming out to play this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I know it's been difficult. I just got back to Scotland and had a company day at Glenneagles Tuesday, flew out here Wednesday morning. It's 100 degree heat here and I managed to get around okay, 71. My game is in good order. I just skimmed the hole a number of times today, so yeah, my game is in good order. The bag of clubs is good, the equipment is okay. I'm just looking forward to having an opportunity of competing on more of a level playing field. You know, this is what it is. A lot of sport is age related and I'm fortunate I'm playing against guys that hit the ball a mile now and I would like to get back to normality where I can at least compete off the tee with some of the older guys, so I look forward to it.
Q. Happy impending 50th birthday.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you.
Q. You mentioned Bernhard Langer. I'm wondering what Bernhard and a guy like Roger Chapman, who was so successful last year, have told you about the Champions Tour and what sort of questions you've asked them to help you get more familiar with it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay, good. Yeah, I've spoken to Bernhard Langer, I spoke to Mark O'Meara at length as well when he came over to play the Dubai Desert Classic there in February of this year and he shot 67 the first round, I shot 69 and we went on from there, it was great. He was saying that it's a very, very enjoyable place to play golf. It's the best Tour in the world, he said, and I would have to ‑‑ even thinking about it, I would have to agree with that. He said the intensity is slightly less and yet the competition is very, very fierce. And the standard, he said, made no bones about this and I accept this wholeheartedly, the standard of golf is extremely good. And he said, do not be fooled by thinking that these courses are six and a half thousand yards long. These courses are nearly if not 7,000 yards long. So I'm not in any way fooled by the thought of going over there and having a pitch and putt and score 65 every day. These are major courses that we use. In fact, Royal Birkdale for our British Senior Open has been used and that's on the Open rota and I'm sure the tees won't be that far forward from the back tees that we use in the Open.
So I'm under no illusion. This is going to be very difficult. I know how good Bernhard Langer is and always was. At 56 in August he is now and he's still competing to this level is amazing. He's as stiff as he ever was and his hunger for the game remains intact. And I've got a new hunger for the game now and I've been working all year towards this date whereby I can fly to Pittsburgh and compete against him again. We used to have great battles on the European Tour, Bernhard Langer and myself, and I look forward to it. I used to come over and play against Couples and Mark O'Meara and Kenny Perry and David Frost and all the great players you have on that Champions Tour. Now I look forward to competing against them again. Really, it's a new chapter in my life and one that I'm really looking forward to.
Q. Hi, Colin. Just wondering how you view what you potentially do on the Champions Tour, how do you think that will sort of slant how people feel about your career? I know you're in the Hall of Fame now, but if you have a really, really good senior career, do you think that will burnish what people think about you as a golfer?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's always something. You know, I had a great career, a great normal career if you like, and I would get to No. 2 in the world, now being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a great honor, but of course there's always an omission, isn't there, when you talk about me, there's a lack of a major championship.
All I can do now from now on is hopefully add a major championship to the resume already in place and I look forward to trying to achieve that. It was very interesting that Freddie Couples hadn't won an R&A event, he hadn't won the British Open and it was amazing that in Freddie Couples' exhibit in the Hall of Fame when I went over last month in May that his British Open, his Senior British Open replica had found a place in his exhibit and I asked him about this. I said, There's the Senior British Open. He said, Yeah, it was a real proud moment for me to win an R&A event and to beat Bernhard Langer at Turnberry if you remember last year and it meant a lot to him, a real amount to him and I think it would the same to me. So if I can compete in any major championship, I think it would fulfill a dream, of course it would.
There's more golfers over 50 in the world than there are under and it would be fantastic to try and achieve the dream of winning a major championship finally, whether it be normal Tour or Senior Tour, I do look forward to it.
Q. Colin, before you were talking about how the fans are a little different from what you hear on the Champions Tour. I'm just wondering when you look back when you played here in majors, how were you received by fans now that you look back at their treatment of you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think over the years I was a threat, I suppose, when I got to No. 2 in the world to Greg Norman in the world and of course I was quite a threat. So therefore, if there was a target, I suppose I was it. But it was quite a good bank that we had. And over the last eight years maybe since I've been coming over to America playing in Tiger's event over at the Chevron there, it used to be Tiger, didn't it, at one stage over in America and also playing in the majors still over the last eight years, the crowd reaction has been very supportive and I think they respect what I've achieved more and I have played the part and have witnessed a differing view towards me.
So I look forward to that continuing on the Champions Tour and really, really look forward to playing a role with the crowd, getting involved with the crowd and involving them in the game. I think that my personality will show through on that stage as opposed to the intensity of trying to win a major on the so‑called proper tour, on the PGA TOUR. So I think that I'm not worried at all about the crowd reaction. In fact, I'm very positive and I look forward to engaging with the crowd in a very different way.
Q. Happy early birthday.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you.
Q. You answered the question of why you're doing this, you sound generally excited to join the Champions Tour. I'm curious on the timeline of when you decided you were going to do this, to commit to 20 events over here in America. At what point did you make up your mind that was something you wanted to do?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's interesting, good question. I always felt, and I said this openly to the European Tour, that I wasn't really going to play Champions Tour golf or senior golf as we call it until I got to 50 and found I was as fit ‑‑ well, I've never really been fit but as fit as I have ever have been. I think allow 50 is the new is 40 to be honest. I think health has improved to that degree allowing us to go on longer than we would. But 50 is old, I thought I would be retiring and I would drive my wife nuts if I stayed home all the time. So I thought I'm better off doing what I do best, which is play golf, and I look forward to the competition almost more than the love of the game of golf. I'm very competitive still and I've remained hungry, hungry for success, and I think that's important. If you are that way as Langer so well has over these last six years, remaining that hungry for success as I am, that you can continue. I'll play seniors golf as long as I'm hungry for success. My competitive nature remains that way, so all I can say is that I'm hungry, I'm still competitive and I want to do well. So it was about a couple years ago, three years ago that I decided that I would change track and play seniors golf or Champions Tour golf, yes.
Q. We look forward to seeing you up here in Minnesota, thanks.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I'm playing in the 3M Championship, so I look forward to it.
MARK WILLIAMS: Colin, I don't know if we have any more questions lined up, but I just want to thank you very much for taking the time to join us and good luck.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Not at all, thank you.
MARK WILLIAMS: Good luck with the rest of the week in Germany and we look forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh next week.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I turn 50 the 23rd, so I'm flying on the 24th so I can't wait, so I look forward to it.
MARK WILLIAMS: Jackie, one more question?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Okay, sure.
Q. Thank you. One last question, Monty. You talked about your competitive instincts and nature. Are you a guy who sets goals? Are you saying I want to win X number of tournaments or I want to win a major, or would you be more likely to get out there, start playing and see where that leads you, or do you have something in your mind that says this is what I want to accomplish this year as a rookie again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I would have to answer that in your latter statement, which said that I'm coming over to Pittsburgh to see how things lie, to see how the land lies, to see everybody there that I haven't seen for many, many years, and to play and to see how I do.
As I say, my game's in quite good shape right now. I'm very happy with my game right now. Obviously we can all hole more putts, that's not an issue, but the game from tee to green is actually okay. So I do look forward to trying to do well and if that means win, well, I haven't won a professional golf tournament since 2007, which I won the European Open over at the K Club in Ireland, so it's been a long time. I'm sure I haven't forgotten, but at the same time I would like to get into contention to see how I fare. If I don't do well, okay. Well, I can learn from that and see what happened and then go from there.
So I feel very much a rookie in many ways. So yes, to answer your question, there's no particular goals set. I'm just going to do as well as I can. Then if I do fail, well, I will work out and I will come back the next week stronger and better.
MARK WILLIAMS: Colin, it looks like we've got a couple more questions if you've got the time to stay on with us.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Sure, yes, not at all.
Q. Hello, Colin. Curious what your thoughts are on spectators being allowed to carry cell phones nowadays and wondered if you ever encountered any memorable cell phone moments along in your career.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: We've always encountered cell phone moments. It's unfortunate that the odd one has gone off and the certain timing unfortunately. And some of these ring tones are awful, I must admit. I wish they were just like a phone and not like music blazing out.
At the same time, we live in a different social world now that to take your cell phone away from someone is like taking an arm off. I mean, it really is. It's attached to people's body, aren't they, cell phones nowadays, and I think it's wrong to take them away. Provided the cell phone is silenced on the course, I don't see any problem for it. It can vibrate in one's pocket or whatever the case may be nowadays. There are ways of texting SMS we call it, texting, I'm sure you do the same thing, without annoying anybody. It's on silence or vibrate, I'm sure that's fine. I think it's a social world we live in that where we go, our cell phone goes, and I think it's quite right that we got to the stage of allowing them on the course.
Q. Hi there, Colin. You mentioned the 3M tournament in the Twin Cities that you're coming over to play.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Did Hollis Cavner have to pull any strings to get you to come to his event and are you looking forward to playing in Minnesota, and really why are you looking forward to playing at the 3M?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, great, it's a good time for me. It's after the British Open finishes and then I have the Senior British Open. I have a week off and then I'm coming over for the 3M and then I'm going to announce at Rochester, Oak Hill for the U.S. PGA, and then I'm staying on for two more tournaments, the Dick's Sporting Goods I believe and then going to the Boeing Classic in Seattle. So the 3M fits into the schedule very well.
I played Hazeltine a couple times in majors and I enjoyed it and I look forward to coming over to the Twin cities and enjoy myself. And hopefully if I haven't won before then, well, hopefully I can do well in your tournament. So I do look forward to it. I look forward to every challenge that's set and yours is no different.
Q. Hey, Colin, just a quick question. Wondering if you could sort of take us through your itinerary. You said you're flying into Pittsburgh on Monday. Just wondering about your practice rounds and sort of what's your schedule leading up to the tournament?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, sure. The reason I'm flying on Monday of course is because it starts on Thursday and I want to give myself every opportunity to do well. I've just come back from the U.S. last week and flying back again is tiring, so I want to give myself the best possible chance. I'll be out on the course Tuesday morning because I'll be jet lagged, I'll be up early, so I suggest I'll be on the course before 9:00 on Tuesday. Then I believe there's a pro‑am on Wednesday that I'm involved in. So that's my practice round Tuesday, the pro‑am I look forward to, and then we go on Thursday. Then back home Sunday night to try to qualify for Muirfield, back into the local final qualifying up in Edinburgh in Scotland and back out again for the U.S. Senior Open in Omaha, Nebraska. I need a season ticket on the airlines, I do. I'm going back and forth a lot over the next couple of months, but that's the way it is but I look forward to it.
MARK WILLIAMS: Colin, with that, since you're such a busy man given all that you just explained, we'll let you go.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'd better get some rest, hmm?
MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, get some rest, keep playing well in Germany, and as I said before, we look forward to seeing you here next week and enjoy Sunday when you turn 50. Thank you so much.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I will indeed. Thank you very much.
MARK WILLIAMS: And thank you for everybody for contributing and participating in the call, too. Thanks again.