May 25, 2014
AN INTERVIEW WITH:
KELLY ELBIN: With his first official victory on American soil, Colin Montgomerie joins us as the 75th Senior PGA Champion. Congratulations. A closing round of 65.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Um hum. Sound good so far.
KELLY ELBIN: How does it feel?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Fantastic, really. Superb. There's a motto, if you fail and fail, you come back and try again. I've had a couple of failures here in America and close calls, especially in Major Championships, and it's great to finally, finally win, never mind just a Champions Tour event, but a Senior PGA Championship event.
It's great. I've been associated with the PGA of America for many, many years since I first started my Ryder Cup venture back in 1991. So I've been sort of around the PGA for a long time and it's great to finally win an event run so well by themselves.
KELLY ELBIN: You never let up today. You hit 12 of 13 fairways, 17 of 18 greens in regulation, did you just feel in the zone all day.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I did. It was, I've been swinging the club very well recently and as Tom Watson said on Wednesday, this course should suit me. And it's funny, I kept that in my mind all day, when he was charging at me, you know. I must admit, if his Ryder Cup team this year have the determination and drive and ambition that he does, I think we're in big trouble.
Fantastic round of golf by Tom Watson. 64 years old. Superb effort today.
But, yes, I was finding the fairways and as you say 12 out of 13. If I can do that, I always said my strength of my game is my iron play and I could use that from the fairways. I managed to hit the fairways to the, which was key.
KELLY ELBIN: Want to open it up for questions, but the key for you were the birdies at 8, 9 and 10. Run through those three holes, please.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The middle ground, I was caught, Bernhard Langer had caught me by then. I had 3 putted the fourth and Bernhard had caught me. I think we had a good score come in as well. Tom Watson was going well. So it was very tight at that stage. It was between about seven or eight players that could actually win.
The birdies at 8, 9 and 10 were key. The birdie at 8 was a 3 wood and a sand wedge in to 10 foot and I holed that.
9 was a good bunker shot from the side of the green to about 10 foot and that went in. Two good putts there.
10, I was just short of the green in two at 10 and I chipped up to about four foot past the hole and holed that. That was the key to the round. 8, 9 and 10.
KELLY ELBIN: Very good. Open it up for questions.
Q. Obviously, it was a great display of ball striking. Were you feeling the pressure? You said you sort of remembered what Tom had said, but were you feeling did it feel like a Major? Did it feel a lot of pressure out there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It felt like a Major, very much so. Very much so. It did. It had that Major feel to it. I think the golf course made it that way. I think that the Michigan crowd made it that way. I think they were superb, turned out in droves here.
I think that it had a great feeling of a Major Championship, this. Very much. And competing against guys that I had competed against on the Regular Tour, this was a strong field, a very strong field. Having to play with Bernhard Langer for four days in a row, he's been dominating seniors golf for many years and it's great to play and finally beat him. I'm sure normal services will resume next week with him. But finally I've managed to get the better of him.
But, yes, it had that Major feel. I didn't feel nervous from the moment I struck my 7 iron into the first green right on line and holed that putt I felt very comfortable.
KELLY ELBIN: What was the length of that putt on 1?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It was about 15 foot, I suppose. Five yards short of the pin. Yeah, 15 feet.
Q. Today's obviously a very monumental moment, your first win on American soil. I would like to ask more personal side of question, in 1991 you lost your mother Elizabeth to cancer and since then you have been working tirelessly to support others who also are dealing with cancer. And you're giving. What do you think your mother would say to your persevering spirit of continuously going forward and here today and now actually winning your first Major?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's very interesting you say that. I won my first PGA Championship at Wentworth that's just been played today and congratulations to Rory on May the 25th.
This is May the 25th. And my mom's birthday is May the 25th. I lost mom in 1991 to lung cancer. Very poignant time, as you say. We built two cancer centers in Scotland and we have raised over six million dollars in the process over the last four years. So we have done very well with great support from Aberdeen, the City of Aberdeen, the City of Glasgow, and the City of Edinburgh. We would like to branch out. We're trying to build one in Wales because of the Celtic Manor connection, so it's a very poignant moment. I knew that exactly what date it was today. Always will. You always know your mom's birthday, believe me.
Yeah, that's, yeah, that was that stuck with me, because I won my first PGA in 1998 on May the 25th and the two afterwards, it's always around this time, Wentworth, and today just happens to be that date.
Q. With these greens as complicated as they are, you could hit what you thought was a perfect shot and maybe not get the bounce you wanted. How critical was it all week to keep telling yourself that I hit a great shot, not let it get you frustrated, to keep staying positive?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think a good caddie is important at that stage. And Alastair McLean, my caddie now for what, we got together in 1991, so we have been together for 23 years, on and off.
I think it's very important that he was on the bag today and kept the positive vibes, positive thoughts up. If you hit a shot on line and it hit one of the so called slopes, whatever, and didn't finish where you were expecting it to do, he was very positive and kept those positive thoughts around. My iron play all week was very good. Eventually it would pay off. That's what he was saying. And it did around the turn there. And also the holes around 12, 14 and 15 were good iron shoots, too, for birdies.
So it's very important to have a good caddie on the bag when it's such a challenge and such a demanding challenge as this golf course is.
KELLY ELBIN: What were your thoughts walking down 18 when you knew you had finally won this?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, a four shot lead and I hit the fairway, so that was fine. Yeah, really excited. More relief almost than anything. I've been coming here since 1992 in Major Championship golf, Pebble Beach was my first Major in 1992. Very nearly won the U.S. Open there. I've been coming here for a long time, 22 years, to try and win a Major Championship or any event, to that degree. And it's just a relief that it's happened now and hopefully this, I can build on this now and move forward from this, knowing that I can do this now. It can only give you more confidence and the self esteem goes up and the confidence levels rise and you look forward to doing it again. I look forward to the next Major Championship that we have to play.
Q. You think you just answered the question I was going to ask you about how this fits in with coming so close so many times in the Majors. Tom Watson mentioned earlier when he was in that you're not, it's not quite the same, because you're not playing against the absolute best, but yet it is your age group.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's a lot of good golfers in this world over 50, believe me.
Q. This one feels as good?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There's more golfers over 50 in this world than there are under. You only beat who you there's 156 good competitors here, believe me, this week. And every year we tend to gain Jeff Maggert here, Stephen Ames, Davis Love will be joining us. It's amazing the standard of golf that is when you're over 50. Tom Watson keeps improving at over 60, for goodness sake. Incredible.
So there's a lot of good golf, a lot of good golfers over 50 years old in the world and it's great to sit on top of the tree at least one day. It's fantastic.
Q. You talked about 8, 9 and 10 and how well Bernhard has been playing how big then was the ninth hole when you're in the bunker in two and he's home in two and you get up and down for four and then he makes five and it gives you a multiple shot lead heading to the back side.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That was crucial. He having missed a putt on 8 as well around about the same distance of mine. I holed mine, he missed it. Then I went one ahead.
Two ahead going into the back nine then was crucial, knowing that he had to beat me by three. The way I was playing, the way I was driving the ball and the feeling I had that that was going to be difficult. Although he birdied 10 and, unfortunately, made a mistake at 11, and then that gave me even more confidence.
But I do enjoy playing with him. He is the standard out here week in week out he is the standard. If you can always beat the standard, you're a happy bunny, as I am today.
Q. When that final putt goes in on 18 and the crowd roared, was there a sense of relief or what was that moment like for you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, you know, well, it was even unmissable, even for you, because it was only about a centimeter. And I could really, you know, that's almost a gimmie, you know. I'm so glad that Bernhard holed his putt because the ball would have gone right over my marker and it would have been a bit of a mess.
But, yeah, you got one of those putts and it's great to see it go to the bottom of the hole and you pick the ball out and, yeah, it's a great feeling. I've been very lucky to have won 40 odd times worldwide and now that's 41, I believe. But very special, being a Major champion, being a Major Championship, and I treat it as such. I really do. It might well have a senior connotation to it, but it is a Major Championship and I'm thrilled to be part of this history, 75 years this has been going, it's been a long, long time. I just love to be now part of history.
Q. You talked about how you you've had chances in the past at Majors, obviously you
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: A couple, yeah.
Q. Obviously you prepared yourself going into a final round the night before thinking about it, how to deal with it, did you deal with it differently this time?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Good question. Not particularly, no. I just had to play my own game. I had to concentrate on me. I think before I think I got a little bit wrapped up in other people's play before. I was almost sort of concerned about their play as opposed to my own.
Today I concentrated on my own play and could only worry about myself. That's what I did. As soon as I hit that 7 iron to the first and holed the putt, I felt good about things. I did.
So I think you learn, I think you mature, I think you learn, I think every round of golf somebody learns something. We all do. We're always learning. We're always trying to find out different techniques and different ways of getting that damn thing in that damn hole. You know?
Yeah, we're always learning. And I learned today to concentrate on me and that's all I could do. Possibly I haven't in the past.
Q. This victory gets you in the PGA Championship.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It does indeed.
Q. At Valhalla, another Jack Nicklaus course with some interesting holes.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, super.
Q. After what we saw Miguel Angel and Fred Couples do at the Masters, does this give you or, number one, are you planning to play the PGA?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I am indeed, yes. Yes.
Q. And does this give you a little more confidence and do you think you can compete there?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: If I can drive the ball as well as I did here, and hit my iron shots as well as I did here, and hole out as well as I did here, who says you don't have a chance?
Valhalla's a great golf course, a longer course, yes, of course, but at the same time the emphasis there will be hitting the fairways and hitting the greens. If I can hit 17 greens in regulation around here today, if I can play the way I did today there, I can compete. I look forward to trying to compete at that level again. It's great. I will do my utmost to present as a Senior PGA champion a good showing.
Q. Can you just talk about, you mentioned the fans and everything, could you just talk about your stay here and how much you've enjoyed it?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Fantastic. It is my first time to actually play in Michigan. I played in Chicago around the corner a few times, but never in Michigan. Fabulous.
I drove up from Alabama, we were in Shoal Creek Alabama last week and I drove up, I drive everywhere and I drove up, it was only 11 hours this one, it was quite close.
So I drove up and I found this area very special. Saint Joseph there is a lovely, lovely town. And Harbor Shores, I had heard a lot about this golf course, and a lot about the severity of the greens, but how wonderful a place it is and what a linksified sort of front nine and a parkland type back nine.
The weather this week has been fantastic. The hospitality has been superb. I've just been down to the volunteers there, 1,900 volunteers, and they make or break a tournament. And they have certainly made it this week. They have been fantastic. So all credit to them for making me and my fellow 155 other competitors very, very welcome. I've enjoyed it thoroughly.
Q. Will this course now hold a very special place in your heart, being the first win in the U.S.?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very. The most. Absolutely. How can I say otherwise? This is it. I thought Pine Valley was good, you know, but no, no, no.
(Laughter.) This is it. Harbor Shores. This is it. Fantastic.
KELLY ELBIN: On May 25th, Colin Montgomerie wins the 75th Senior PGA Championship Presented By KitchenAid. Congratulations.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you very much. Thank you.
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