NCG meets: The world according to… Colin Montgomerie

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Steve Carroll found the record breaking Order of Merit winner in talkative mood as he discusses the Champions Tour, beating Bernhard Langer and keeping dress codes…

NCG meets – Colin Montgomerie

“I love the Champions Tour. I really do. They have embraced me and I have embraced them. I could honestly say, 20 years ago, that wasn’t the case.

“Sometimes my issues and their issues – they combined and it wasn’t working. Now it does. I used to be the biggest threat and now I am not. So I am not holing putts in the Ryder Cup anymore, so they like me.

“I am enjoying it and I am a great believer, and I have said many times, that if you enjoy something you are usually quite good at it – whatever it is.

“I am enjoying what I am doing. I am really excited on the first tee and, therefore, you tend to hit the fairway. Simple as that.”

“You come up the last in these Senior Majors. You are competing against the best players over 50 in the world, it’s the same exact feeling I had when I was doing it 20 years ago.

Colin Montgomerie

“I was hoping it would feel that way. And it is. Thank God it is. The way you feel, that is self-esteem and that’s how I feel when I happen to win.

“You feel absolutely fantastic as you would if you were at the top of your particular class – whatever it might be.

“Against 80 other guys who fancy themselves too and, especially in a Major when there are 150 of you starting, you think ‘this is wonderful, this is fantastic’ and the feeling you get – the buzz. Superb.

“I am as ambitious and driven as I ever was. And I was driven then. I really am excited about starting the new year.”

“I tell you. If you are not scoring 66 (on the Champions Tour) you can forget it. The standard is bloody good. It’s fantastic, it really is.

Colin Montgomerie

“In my last tournament, I was round a par 70. It was Phoenix, one of these classic desert courses. The greens were small, 13 on the stimpmeter, PGA Tour quality rough. 7,000 yards. I shot 65, 66 and 68. Third.

“You think ‘bloody hell’. You’d expect to walk it with those scores at 53. Third. And you think ‘OK, game on here lads’. The standard is bloody good and that’s what shocked me and it shocked everybody who has competed on that Champions Tour.”

“They say 50 is the new 40. We are very lucky in golf that everybody tends to play our game when they retire from their respective sports and we are very lucky that we are still competitive at 50 years old. I can speak for all 81 of us who compete every week, I think we are very, very fortunate and we really do enjoy it.

“I have been very fortunate to stay healthy and flexible. Flexibility is the one thing that’s going to stop us. We can’t get to a position at the top, or through the ball or hit the ball the way we did. So flexibility is key.

“I am exactly, to the yard, the same as I was 20 years ago. When I led the Order of Merit I was 274 yards off the tee. That was my average distance hit, which was at the time in the top 15 per cent.

Colin Montgomerie

“Now, the new rankings have just come out – 274. So it proves that although my swing speed has reduced by somewhat, technology has kept my ability to hit the ball the same distance.

“So the ball and the club added together, and I am sure you talk about new glove technology, new shoe technology in transferring that energy forward, has aided me by hitting the ball the same distance I did 20 years ago. Which is bizarre.”

“I think I was really treading water from 47 through 50 on the European Tour. I think most people do. I was looking forward to turning 50 and starting again. It is a more level playing field, with guys who are your age instead of guys that are half your age and under. So it has reenergised that competitiveness and I am looking forward to the next year – as I have enjoyed the last three.”

“Bernhard Langer has set new standards for his age. You would accept it if he was 51 or 52 but he’s not. He’s 59 and that even makes it better – so much stronger – what he’s achieved.

“I think he might well be under-rated, very much, on what he has achieved.

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