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Colin Montgomerie

For the better part of the 1990s and 2000s, Brits descended onthe Open Championship to celebrate their national tournament. Specifically, many came with the hopes of celebrating a Colin Montgomerie victory. Montgomerie never claimed a Claret Jug, or any major for that matter. His best finish was 2005 at St. Andrew's when he was runnerup to Tiger Woods. Monty won't be in the field this week at Carnoustie, but he has decades of experience with the course. Shortly after the U.S. Open, Montgomerie spoke with ThePostGame about the upcoming Open Championship, Woods' comeback and this fall's Ryder Cup. His media appearance was part of a tour with Loch Lomond Whiskies, the official spirit of the Open Championship.

ThePostGame: There were a lot of complaints by players about Shinnecock Hills on Saturday of the U.S. Open. What do you remember being the hardest U.S. Open course you ever played on?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oakmont in '94. These greens were the quickest I have ever played on, including The Masters.
TPG: I would have expected you to say Winged Foot, to be honest.
MONTGOMERIE: No, just the last hole there. Not the rest of it. The rest of it is OK. But Oakmont overall, the greens were so quick, so I would have to say that was the toughest.
TPG: Well, I am glad you have a sense of humor about that, Colin.
MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, you have got to.
TPG: In terms of the U.S. Open, you look at it now and the three recent winners are [Brooks] Koepka twice and Dustin Johnson once. These are massive guys, power hitters. Is that what the U.S. Open is becoming or does that just happen to be a trend right now?
MONTGOMERIE: That's just golf right now. I was always told when I was growing up that the greatest asset to have in golf is length. And I would have to agree. You can always control it, but to have it an asset, as you say, the last three winners are Koepka, Johnson, Koepka. These guys are athletes, and the game of golf has changed very much, and I think it will remain that way. Pebble Beach could be the one that gets in the way next year. The course is by far the shortest on the U.S. Open rotation. You have to fiddle your way around Pebble Beach more, but still, having length is a fantastic asset. To be able to hit a 2-iron the length of some people’s driver makes the game a hell of a lot easier.
TPG: Now we are coming up on Carnoustie, just looking at the last four Open Championships, the winner has been at worst 12-under. This course is where Paul Lawrie was 6-over when he won in 1999. We haven't seen the weather conditions, but do you expect this course to be a little bit more of a beast than we have seen in past Open Championships?
MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't think so. I think they will set it up the way they did in 2007, when they were very, very fair with Carnoustie. They learned their lesson from '99, which was too severe. It is all well and good to find the best players of the week, but let's keep it fair -- '99 wasn't. But I am convinced they will do the same they did in 2007. Carnoustie, in my view, can stand up to anything. When you get a breeze around there, it suddenly becomes a beast. So you have got to be very careful. It is the one course that can come back and bite you, and you don't want that to happen, so you are and able to play it safe.
TPG: Carnoustie is kind of now back in the rotation, slowly but surely, how do you feel about the course as a whole? 
MONTGOMERIE: It's the best of the lot. It is the toughest of the lot. It is two shots tougher than any of the other courses. I think Carnoustie is a fantastic place. I really do. As a golf course, there is no better from the first shot and onwards. There is no layup, no letup. It is just a phenomenal golf course.


TPG: We have seen some guys up there in an age such as Tom Watson, Darren Clarke and Phil Mickelson compete at the Open Championship recently. I want to say people are going to start to talk themselves into Tiger Woods. Is the Open Championship, maybe, the most likely major that he can still win?
MONTGOMERIE: That is a very good question. No, I don't think so. I think the most likely one for Tiger is the Masters. There is still a little more room off the tee at the Masters than there is at other majors and that's his weakness. He would agree himself. He has got to get the ball in play. If Tiger gets the ball in play, he is going to win it. I think the best chance for Tiger to get the ball in play is at The Masters. Of course, he could win anywhere, don’t get me wrong, but the best opportunity is at the Masters, where he can use his strengths on and around the greens.
TPG: Do you think Tiger wins another major?
MONTGOMERIE: No, I don't think he wins another major. I think he wins another tournament, which I wasn't saying at all two years ago, so that is a huge compliment to him.
TPG: What have you noticed about this particular return and what has improved the most for him?
MONTGOMERIE: I think mentally, he is ready now. I think he is going to come back. As all sportsmen do, they come back too quick. They think they are ready and they are not. I think he has given it the time now. After all those operations and how old he is, to have the fastest club head speed on tour is quite phenomenal at his age. So, I think he is ready now and I don't think he was before. You give him enough time and patience is an almost impossible thing to have in any sport, but he has given it now, and as a result, he is performing better.
TPG:  Do you remember a moment, maybe in the 90s, when you realized how good he was going to be?
MONTGOMERIE:  Oh yeah. The first time I was out with him at the '97 Masters. I realized very quickly that this guy was very, very special. This was the third round. I was in second, so we were playing together the last off. I was blown away, just as everyone else was. We weren't ready for this.

Woods shot a 65 that day. Montgomerie posted a 74.
TPG: I would not say that American crowds were always so kind to you during your prime. When you're out there on the PGA Tour Champions, what are the fans like when they see you coming down the fairway?
MONTGOMERIE: It has been very, very different. I have been very welcomed. The crowds have been fantastic. There is no angry out there and no big egos. On the PGA Tour Champions, everyone is genuinely happy for anyone else's success. I think it is a fantastic place to play and all credit to the fans for inviting me onto that tour and welcoming me there with open arms. It has been a real blessing.
TPG: Who is someone on the PGA Tour Champions that is just really stroking it, someone who is playing outstanding right now that most people might not expect?
MONTGOMERIE: Well, you expect Steve Stricker to be stroking it, you expect Bernhard Langer. Jerry Kelly has performed extremely well. He is shining right now and is a favorite in most weeks and proves why. I wouldn't say he is a surprise right now, that is unfair, but he is performing really well.
TPG: We have the Ryder Cup coming up. It felt like, to me, after the '99 win for the U.S., for the better part of the last decade and a half, it felt as if the Europeans -- losing just once for a long time -- were the dominant continent. But right now, we would expect the U.S. to be the favored side. What is the vibe like on the European side?
MONTGOMERIE: We got to be wary about this. The U.S. have a message now. They have a captain in Jim Furyk that everyone respects and a team that they respect, as well. The U.S. are a team that is confident in what they're doing right now, especially having won the Presidents Cup dramatically, yet again. But, at the same time, we haven't lost the Ryder Cup for 25 years at home and we don't plan on starting that now. We will have to fold some times, but it will be very close. We have got 4-5 guys coming into this team that are real world-class players right now. We have Tyrrell Hatton. We got Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Paul Casey, Alex Noren. That's almost half the team right there. They're newcomers, but they can play on a world stage. So, we are quite confident as well. It is going to be a super event, as they always are.
TPG: When you played those Ryder Cups at home, how did you feed off of that crowd?
MONTGOMERIE: It was simple. I wasn't feeding off of the crowd. I was feeding off my fellow players. I was playing for them. And they fed off playing for me too. We all played together. It was very easy. The crowd just helped us perform, but I was playing for my other teammates more than anything.
TPG: How much do you know about this course in France, Le Golf National?
MONTGOMERIE: We played the French Open there for 20 years. I won there in the year 2000. I won the French Open at the Ryder Cup course in the year 2000. I played there for 15 years in a row. It's an extremely good golf course. The French will run it extremely well. They will put out all the stops. I think there is a great big golf ball being hung from the Eiffel Tower. It is going to be a superb event.
TPG: Tell me about the whiskey you have coming out. Is it Colin Montgomery whiskey?
MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I'm promoting my ambassadorship of Loch Lomond Whiskies, which has become the spirit of The Open Championship. It is one of two of Scotland's best exports -- golf and whiskey. And here we are, promoting it in New York and we are having a great time. Both bottles are here, the '99 edition -- which is by definition 20 years old -- and another bottle which is 12 years old, as well. It has been super to promote them here in New York.
TPG: Were you one to be able to handle whiskey on a Thursday or Friday night of a major tournament?
MONTGOMERIE: Definitely. All Scots can. Come on now. I wouldn't be a true Scot if I didn't like and sample whiskey. It does help me sleep, as well.

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