Golf: Montgomerie's bogeyman

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The Independent Online
To land one of the two biggest prizes in golf, Colin Montgomerie first has to beat the South African Ernie Els, the player who has twice denied him the US Open. The pair meet in today's semi-finals of the Andersen Consulting World Match Play Championship in Scottsdale, Arizona, with the winner then facing either the US PGA champion Davis Love or Hajime Meshiai, of Japan, in tomorrow's final.

Montgomerie qualified for the final four by winning the European qualifier last May, defeating Jose Maria Olazabal, Sam Torrance and Costantino Rocca. The Scot's performance at The Buckinghamshire kick-started what until then had been a disappointing season and he went on, of course, to be crowned Europe's No 1 for a record fifth successive time. But still he did not win a major, Els beating him by one shot in Washington to bring back memories of Montgomerie's play-off defeat in Pittsburgh three years earlier.

The two met again during the Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews in October and the match ended all square. They did not have to go to extra holes because South Africa had qualified for the semi-finals. "We'll carry this one on to Phoenix," Els said then. Now the time has come.

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