Colin Montgomerie’s professional career has spanned continents and generations – from heroic shots in Dubai and in the Ryder Cup, to memories of playing with Seve Ballesteros and Tiger Woods. He won a record eight Order of Merit titles on the European Tour and compiled a 20-9-7 record in eight Ryder Cups, and he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.
Since joining PGA TOUR Champions in 2013, Montgomerie has tallied seven wins, including three majors and one victory in the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs.
On March 25, Montgomerie was in London and joined PGA TOUR Champions for the Tour’s first “Lunch with a Legend” interview on Instagram Live.
Answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What’s more nerve wracking: playing or captaining in a Ryder Cup?
Captaining by tenfold. At least I have some sort of control as I was playing; I only had to play one guy or two guys with a partner. I only realized how difficult it was as a captain when you’d send out your team on the first tee and you’d pray that they’d come back with something four, four and a half hours later. You have no control, and I think that’s the nervey part about it. That’s why I’m so gray right now. Playing was easy, I had 11 great teammates all the time around me, but captaining was more stressful.
What’s the best pressure putt or best pressure shot that you’ve ever hit?
I suppose I’ve got one plaque in the world and I’m proud of it. It’s in Dubai and it was at the Dubai Desert Classic in 1996. I was one ahead of Miguel Angel Jiménez playing the 72nd hole. He outdrove me and he drew out his 3-wood, which was a huge error because it was a match play situation and he showed me his cards.
I said to Alistair, my caddie, and he’s still with me to this day, and I said “Ok, put the 6-iron away we’ve got to go for this.” The only club that I had in the bag to make the carry was a driver, so he said, “Well ok, just make good contact.” And as long as I made good contact, I was ok, but it was the most pressurized shot because if it had gone wrong, I would have lost the event. So, at the time and still to this day, it was 24 years ago now, that shot remains with me and will forever.
Who’s the best driver of the golf ball you’ve ever seen?
Greg Norman, easily. Two guys lost their greatest asset with technology. Greg Norman was the greatest driver of the golf ball there’s ever been, and to this day still is. McIlroy is good, don’t get me wrong, but Norman was a better driver of the golf ball than Rory McIlroy, with a wooden club. Suddenly when the metal clubs and the titanium clubs and all the easier-to-hit stuff came in, we all could do what Greg Norman did; we caught up with him.
And another person I’d say the same to was Seve Ballesteros. He was a magician with a 56-degree wedge, he could do anything with it. But when PING developed the lob wedge, we all could do what Seve did, or we could think we could. So, he lost his greatest asset and Greg Norman, too. A pity in many ways that they did because they were well ahead of the game.
Who’s the best putter you’ve ever seen?
Tiger is the best putter I played against. You somehow felt that you knew it was going to go in, the crowd knew it was going to go in, but more importantly so did he. I think Jordan Spieth got quite close in that run he had. I haven’t played with Jordan in a competitive round, but I have with Tiger many times. And many times he looked as if he was going to hole that putt. And you felt 1-down somehow because he was that good on the putting surfaces. It’s half the game and when you think about it, if he’s that good at half the game, the rest of it can be average. If Tiger putted well, he usually won.
What is your favorite way to celebrate a win?
What was my last win? It was the Invesco QQQ Championship at Sherwood. Well it was late because it was a playoff. Sarah Casey, my partner, was with me and we drove because the next tournament was the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix, and I hate to say it, I’m going to be honest. We stopped at a Wendy’s on the way, so that was the celebration I’m afraid. It was one of those things, we had to get to Phoenix, the practice round was due the next day.
It’s funny celebrating wins, you don’t always have that time. You’re on this conveyer belt and you’ve got to get to where you’re going as opposed to just taking time and smelling flowers along the way. And I wish I had done that a little more along my career, but that’s what we had to do, we had to get there.
It’s normally with family and friends, and you do hope you’re not on your own when you win. I was alone when I won the Mastercard Japan Championship that first year, and I just ordered six beers to the room and then we flew home the next day. Disappointing in many ways (laughs).
Why golf? Who inspired you to pick up the clubs?
It’s a very easy answer there. My father was, and still is, a keen amateur golfer; I think his best handicap was a 4 or 5. We were very lucky to live on the coast in Troon where there’s 10 courses within four or five miles. And everybody in Scotland has the opportunity to play the game of golf. We have more courses in Scotland per capita than anywhere else in the world, so therefore opportunity is available.
My brother and I and our late mother, we all started the game at the same time. I was 6 in 1969 and I was found to have a certain talent I suppose, and it was taken forward. But opportunity is everything, and I think Scotland gives every child more opportunity than any other child in the world to play the game of golf.
Who is in your dream foursome?
Not possible anymore, but dream foursome would be mother, father and brother. Not possible because we lost mom 30 years ago now, but we always used to have some quite good games. We were all off single figures at one stage, which as a family isn’t bad. Mom was 9, my brother was about a 6, my dad was 5 and I was a little bit lower. I always played with mom and we used to have some quite good games. It’s a four-ball I’d love to bring back, but obviously not possible.
What do you see yourself doing post golf career?
Buying a couple golden Labradors and calling them Chip and Putt, and buying a place at St. Andrews and going on a walk at West Sands Beach.
How many more years do you plan on playing PGA TOUR Champions?
We’re often asked that and it goes back to my good friend Bernhard Langer. He’s 62 now and he’s still winning. As long as I can say that my best performance on PGA TOUR Champions would be a win, I’ll still compete. If the best I can do, and I have to be honest with myself here, is say 10th or 15th place, well, catch me at St. Andrews beach.
The best I can do, I really feel that if I can play well and hole out well, I can still win. So therefore I keep going and I’ll keep going until it’s time where I say to myself, “Yeah, I’m not competing,” and it’s time to give up the hotels and the planes and back and forth across the Atlantic and it’s time to just relax for once in my life.
April 01, 2020
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM