Golf: Europe set to benefit as Belfry remodels Brabazon

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The Independent Online
COLIN MONTGOMERIE and other prospective members of Europe's next Ryder Cup team will get the chance to familiarise themselves with the remodelled Brabazon course at The Belfry, venue for the 2001 match, at next year's Benson and Hedges International.

As well as the change in venue from The Oxfordshire, where Montgomerie won in May, the four-year deal sees an increase in the purse to pounds 1m. Since it last staged the Ryder Cup in 1993, The Belfry has benefited from an investment of pounds 40m, including a third course and pounds 4m spent on the Brabazon. Three of the holes have been completely redesigned.

"I truly believe one of the reasons for our victory at Valderrama in 1997 was superior course knowledge and this will give us an added advantage for the Ryder Cup in 2001," Montgomerie said.

Crowned European No 1 for the seventh time, Montgomerie is not resting on his laurels. He will visit course design projects in China and Hong Kong at the weekend, before playing in the World Cup in Malaysia, the Australian Open and the Million Dollar Challenge at Sun City in successive weeks.

But while Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia will be playing more in America next year, Monty is sticking to his plan to cut back in the States. "I am very happy with what I am doing and my position in Europe," the world No 3 said. "As we have seen today, the purses are increasing all the time on the European tour and I'll go along with that.

"I seem to gain enough world ranking points here without having to go to America more. My goal is to get to No 2 in the world. I don't think anyone is going to catch Tiger Woods but being second to him is not bad. He is by far the world's best performer and by far the best in his sport of any No 1."

n Tiger Woods has been named the winner of the Vardon Trophy for best scoring average on the US PGA Tour. Woods completed 75 rounds with an adjusted scoring average of 68.43. David Duval was runner-up with a 69.17 average over 74 rounds. The previous best adjusted scoring mark of 68.81 was set by Greg Norman in 1994.