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Monty Discusses the Changing Order of World Golf


Editor's Note: On the eve of the Johnnie Walker Classic in Phuket, Thailand, Colin Montgomerie, the "King of the Ryder Cup," discusses that event as well as his game and the results of last week's Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, Ariz.

MODERATOR: Welcome back to another Johnnie Walker Classic. You've been to a few before.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I have.

MODERATOR: You've won 30 European tour titles and this would be a nice one to add to the burgeoning collection?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It would. I'm looking forward to playing here. I played here a few times in '94, '98 and also came here for the tsunami field back in 2005 and did a charity Skins Game. I'm playing quite well, actually. Although I had one bad round against Paul Casey in the Accenture Match Play, didn't play well at all, but the first round I was very encouraged. I had seven birdies and a bogey against Johan Edfors and won that. And I look forward to continuing to some good golf here. I played well in practice and I look forward to going well tomorrow.

MODERATOR: And how would you assess the season to date?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I've played three events, so it's not much of a season really. It's like a sort of month. But what have I finished, 14th, 10th, and 17th last week.

MODERATOR: Middling?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Middling. Some people would say that's pretty good. Some people would say it's poor. I would say it's middling.

MODERATOR: In that case, we'll move on to a question or two.

Q. When you were starting out, it used to be a matter of playing in Europe or going over to America with just the odd excursion maybe to Australia, and now things are becoming more and more prominent in Asia, aren't they, all of these tournaments and all of these players.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.

Q. Can you talk about the changing demographics of the game?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I think I'm personally coming to Asia four or five times this year, again in Shanghai just after The Masters. It's very much changing, you know, and it's good for us. It gives our Members opportunities to play that we didn't have before when I first started playing in '88. But these opportunities for Members were not available. Yes, we have 60 players here and some would say that's not enough out of the 156. But there's 60 more than we had back in '88.

You know, there's always someone that misses out and there's always someone that doesn't get a start, and therefore, you know, well my suggestion there is your opportunities arose last year and you've got to do a bit better and be able to compete in these great events. You know, the money is good here now. The weather is -- well, some say good, some say too hot. The weather is a lot better than it is at home, believe me, and it gives opportunities for Members to play and I think it's fantastic, these early-season events, so-called, away from the mainland of Europe. I think it's great that we're coming into China and forming new relationships all the time, so it's different.

Q. Retief was saying earlier that a lot of the players now actually prefer to come this way than to go to the States; would you agree with that statement?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, the States is for some people. I've never personally done that. I can't speak for others. I can only speak for myself, and I've never really done that. I've always come east, if you like, apart from going west to the States. Of course, I'll be back there for a month to incorporate the Masters. Next month is always spent in America and I've always enjoyed coming east and always enjoyed my time here. It's for some and not for others I suppose. There's a few younger guys, the Poulters, the Roses of this world trying to make ends meat in America, and then there's the likes of myself and Retief possibly that enjoy traveling around the world.

GORDON SIMPSON: And also you have people like DiMarco who have suddenly woken up to opportunities and came to the Gulf, and Mike Weir has never been here before.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It is changing slightly. It's good that Chris DiMarco came out to Abu Dhabi last year and won and then came back again and had a good defense. The more he can tell how great it is, not just the Middle East, but the Far East to his friends on the U.S. Tour, the better, because we are always after stronger fields, and we have one again this particular year. We have four of the Top-10 and it's great again. All fields are getting stronger, and it's good to be part of it.

Q. Do you still set targets every year, and if you do, have you set any for this year?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, I do. I started the year off and I'm in the Top 20, and I really do feel still that I'm able to get it back in the Top-10. I don't think that I'm thinking about overachieving to get to that degree at 43 years old, but I feel that still I can get back into the Top 10 and that goal. I've got to win a couple of times at East obviously to do that and possibly win in America. But I'm playing -- I'm playing quite well right now. Actually I'm hitting the ball well and I'm confident. I look forward to the next month. But yes, I set the odd goal and one is to improve obviously, but again, I'd like to get back into the Top-10 in the world and I feel that that's not so far away. I'm 20th as we speak and as you say, a couple of good wins will get me back in the Top-10.

Q. I know 18-hole match play is different, but there were some strange or different results last week, do you see a slight changing of the guard in world golf now? A lot of good youngsters came through last week.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, certainly, you know, it's the first time that the final has been played without an American participants, so that's changing for a start. And I think there was only one -- what, one American in the last eight? Chad Campbell was the only American in the last eight. And remember that these events are played in America. So that's a big change. And the Ryder Cup's that we've done so well in over the years has proved that and the strength of the world game right now is great. The Americans are going through a bit of a dip, I suppose, and the rest of the world has caught up. It's good for the game.

Q. Do you detect any talk over there amongst the Americans of the way things are going, any concern there?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No. They feel they have a very strong, a very strong tour, which of course they do, the PGA Tour in America. They are a very strong tour. And there's not much concern, I suppose. You know, they have got their No. 1 player in the world and by a long way, and that will take a bit of catching over the years. You know, they should be very proud of their tour, justifiably so. So I don't think there's much awry there. I just feel that the rest of the world has caught up, really.

Q. Can I ask you about grooves? The R&A and USGA have put forward a proposal that effectively means that they will go back to V-grooves, and the idea being to punish players for going in the rough, because it's too easy to get out at the moment with spin and control. So I just wonder what your reaction to that might be?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I'm all for that. You know, I still feel that the 60-degree club that came in with lob-wedge came in many, many years ago and it did a shot-around-the-greens; it took away inventive shots. I know two people, especially Seve and Greg Norman at the time, the No. 1's in the world at the time, and they were against that type of thing. I still feel that 56-degree should be the highest loft allowed in a bag and that would bring back inventive shots around the green, and those who can do and those who can't. You know, the 64-degree club in your bag, any shot is possible now. I'm all for going back to V-grooves, as opposed to boxed grooves or square grooves if you like to aid people having to hit the fairways and hit -- if they are laying up or whatever the case may be; the second shot on par 5s because people get it up-and-down too easily now. I feel that's a benefit and it will aid better play and that's what we're all after.

MODERATOR: That's coming in 2010.

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I was hoping it's next week. These are all sort of 2010, you know. They decided eight years ago to build a roof on Wimbledon. That's great, it hasn't happened yet. It is happening, eventually. So is Wembley.

MODERATOR MPSON: Thank you very much for coming in and have a good week.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.