Els, 26, beat Montgomerie in a play-off for the US Open two years ago, and to have him back in top form as the world's best players gather at Oakland Hills, Michigan, makes the Scot's search for a first major victory all that much more difficult.
Els, who also beat Montgomerie in the final of the 1994 World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, shot rounds of 65, 66, 69 and 71 in the Buick. Greg Norman finished 12 strokes back in 16th place, and the Masters champion, Nick Faldo, was four shots further adrift. Els' 271 total was the same as he returned on the same course in the week before his US Open win two years ago.
Buick Classic final scores, US Open tee-off times,
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