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Just days after Europe’s winning Ryder Cup matches, we caught up with 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain and De Vere Golf Ambassador, Colin Montgomerie at De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland, where he was entertaining Slaley Country Club members and guests of De Vere.

We are here today at Slaley Hall in Northumberland, the scene of your European Tour triumph at the European Open in 1997; how has the resort changed since you were last here?
Colin Montgomerie (CM): I think the golf course has improved and matured very well, and the hotel has been completely revamped to a fantastic standard. I was recently at another of the properties within the De Vere Hotels & Resorts portfolio, Cameron House on Loch Lomond, which we chose for our own wedding, and I have noticed the similarities in terms of the impressive design and facilities across the resort.

You must have some very happy memories of the golf course here?
CM: I do have happy memories. I won the Compaq European Grand Prix here in 1997, when I managed to beat Retief Goosen and Lee Westwood, who were second and third respectively. That evening, I drove down to London for my flight out to America to compete in the USPGA Championship, where I unfortunately just missed out by one shot.

How do your form this year compares to your form back in 1997?
CM: It’s been a fantastic year for me, having won four times, along with three second places and two third place finishes. It has been my first full year on the Champions Tour and I have really enjoyed it. I came back for the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl, and came up against Bernhard Langer who was in unstoppable form winning by 13 shots. However I did manage to win two of the Majors myself. I put four good rounds together at the US Senior PGA Championship, and managed to come back from four behind in the final round to take the US Senior Open Championship. It really has been a great year, but I am looking forward to some rest and relaxation at the end of it. I’ve got four more tournaments to go, including the finale of the Charles Schwab Cup, which involves the top 30 players on the Champions Tour, so hopefully I can continue with my good form.

Would you then say that your form this year has been as good as it has ever been?
CM: I have certainly been playing very similarly to how I was playing in the mid-90s. The only real difference that I have experienced this year, compared to when I was number 2 in the world, is that I haven’t been driving the ball straight enough. However, I managed to put this right in Russia, where I won a few weeks ago, by hitting 28 out of 28 fairways, which is extremely pleasing.

Having spent the week up at the Ryder Cup, do you think you could have been competitive yourself?
CM: The course was long, and the younger guys are hitting the ball 30 or 40 yards past me, if not further! So I would have found it extremely difficult length wise, but I would have loved the competition and to have competed in the Ryder Cup in front of the Scottish crowd. Bernhard Langer and I feel that we could still perform for Europe, and it is great that the sport of golf can allow you to feel that way.

Paul McGinley has received a lot of praise following the European team’s victory on Sunday, do you think he has rewritten the rule book for what some are terming a ‘modern captain’?
CM: It is difficult to say without being in the team room, but obviously the players thought very highly of him as we have seen the whole team come out in praise of Paul, which is an extremely positive statement from the team towards the captain.

As someone who will be involved in the selection process for the next European Captain, what are the names that immediately stand out to you as leading candidates?
CM: I think there are five main candidates: Thomas Bjorn, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Miguel Angel Jiminez and Darren Clarke. You would feel these would be the main candidates in the running for the position, and I’m confident that whoever is selected would do a great job.

Do you look for slightly different credentials when selecting a Captain to lead the team in the US?
CM: There is no question that it is more difficult away from home. The Americans played their ‘wildcard’ this time in selecting Tom Watson as Captain, but the question is where they go from here. They are fed up of losing and have two years to get it right. So we have to pick a Captain that will be able to counteract that positivity that will come from any American Captain.

It was obviously not a great week for the Americans, but do you feel that there were some positives for them to take away from the matches?
CM: The most pleasing aspect for the Americans will be that the three rookies did a great job – Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker. The rookies are often the weaknesses of the team, but on this occasion they performed well – it was the rest of the team did not back them up.

Do you think this signifies a changing of the guard for the US team?
CM: Well it certainly does when you have the confidence to send out a 21 year old rookie first off in the singles, 10-6 down, followed by another rookie. This shows that the Captain has the most faith in these players ahead of the rest of his team, in order to try and get early points on the board. *continues I expect Tiger will be back for the next matches, which will certainly give the team a presence if nothing else, as well as Dustin Johnson, who provides a big-hitting talent. So there is no question that they will be stronger, and I’m sure they will involve the FedEx Cup Champion if he is not already included. You have to feel that it will be much closer next time with them being at home as well.

Any thoughts on who might be the next American Captain?
CM: Nobody has any idea what the PGA of America will do at this stage. If Tom Watson had won, you would think that some of the older guard such as Larry Nelson and Mark O’Meara might have a chance. However, now there is the dilemma as to whether they stick with someone of this age or move for someone who is playing alongside the team in the way that Europe do.

Do you think Europe will continue with this winning momentum?
CM: It will certainly be difficult for the European team in Minnesota, but it has been difficult every time and we keep on coming out on top, so all credit to everyone that has performed.

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