Golf: Ice-cool Monty achieves his goal

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WITH THREE of Europe's leading stars chasing honours at Montecastillo, only two at most were going to leave happy men. Darren Clarke's course record-equalling 63 took care of winning the Volvo Masters but Colin Montgomerie's third place also assured the Scot of his sixth successive Order of Merit triumph.

The odd man out was Lee Westwood, whose four wins for the season counted for nothing on the final day when his closing 75 dropped him to 12th in the tournament and third on the money list.

Prior to this season Clarke had only won twice since turning professional in 1990 despite a huge talent but he followed a win in the Benson and Hedges International with the biggest victory of his career. His winner's cheque for pounds 166,000 took him past Westwood into second place on the Order of Merit for which he earned a bonus of pounds 120,000.

But Montgomerie, a master of winning the tournament within a tournament at this stage of the season, just had to finish in the top eight to stay in front of the Irishman and a 68 left him a shot behind the runner-up, Andrew Coltart. Monty won pounds 63,000 for third place plus the top bonus of pounds 170,000 to set a new tour record of pounds 993,077 for the season.

"The standard is improving all the time and I've had to go with it," said Montgomerie. "Darren's 63 is an example of that. This is a super win for him and when he eagled the ninth, the tournament was his. I just played away from the pins and did what I had to do.

"Although I went through a hiccup in the middle of the year, I'm mentally stronger than ever. When you've been No 1, you don't like being No 2 and that still drives me," Montgomerie said.

Clarke made a blistering start to his round by birdieing four of the first five holes, tapping in at the fourth and fifth, but it was the 10- footer at the ninth for eagle that put him out in 30 and opened up a three- stroke lead. Further birdies followed at the 11th and 16th before he holed from eight feet at the last.

"I feel brilliant," Clarke said. "I have had a lot of chances to win and finished second three times this year but I played really well today. To go out and win in the style which I did is very gratifying. My goal for the week was to win the tournament and then I couldn't affect what anyone else did." Clarke paid tribute to Montgomery. "Both Lee and I tried our hardest to beat Monty this year and we couldn't. Our best just has not been good enough."

Clarke was inspired by the death of a close friend to him and all the players in the Andrew Chandler management stable in businessman Stephen Bowler. "His wife and son said one of us should win this week and this victory is for him."

The day began with the duel set up seemingly between Westwood and Montgomerie, who trailed the 25-year-old and Australian Peter O'Malley by one with a round to play. Westwood's misfortunes began at the second, where his tee shot at the par-three just caught the lip of the bunker in front of the green.

From there it was his putter that let him down, just as it had against Tiger Woods in the semi-final of the World Match Play. Having come out of the bunker to four feet, Westwood missed the par-saver -his first dropped shot for 41 holes - and went on to let birdie chances slip at the next two holes.

Montgomerie had promised to make sure his main rival was forced to watch him make the birdies following two days of the reverse situation and after the Scot claimed his first at the fifth, Westwood followed him in.

But after Monty had added another at the ninth, Westwood could only par the hole by three-putting from the front edge, missing from four feet again. By now Westwood was trailing Clarke by four and Montgomerie by one.

If his chance hadn't already gone, it had by the time he took four blows on the 14th tee to get a ball in play. His first went left at the par- three and thinking it was out of bounds, he hit a provisional to 10 feet. But the ball was found, albeit in a position where it was unplayable and undroppable, so he had to go back to the tee. His third was also unplayable and when he found the green with his next he two-putted for a seven.

"My chances had gone by the 14th," said Westwood. "It was the start of my round which let me down."

Coltart, who will become Westwood's brother-in-law next year when his sister Laurae marries the Ryder Cup player, was playing alongside his World Cup partner Montgomerie, who was no doubt urging him on as Coltart birdied five holes out of eight from the ninth.

The importance of a high finish for the 28-year-old Scot was to ensure his position in the top-15 on the money list, and so gain entry to more American majors next year, and also to consolidate his place on the world ranking. But having birdied the 16th to draw alongside Clarke at 16-under, Coltart three-putted the 17th while Clarke birdied the last.

MONTGOMERIE'S RECORD

1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998

No of events 24 21 20 18 22 17

Victories 2 3 2 3 2 3

Top 10s 9 13 14 11 11 9

Stroke ave 70.81 69.60 69.70 70.26 69.37 69.66

To par -65 -160 -146 -87 -177 -121

Money pounds 613,682 pounds 762,719 pounds 835,051 pounds 875,146 pounds 798,947 pounds 993,077

Best round 66 65 63 61 62 64

1998 ORDER OF MERIT

1 C Montgomerie pounds 993,077

2 D Clarke pounds 902,867

3 L Westwood pounds 814,387

4 M A Jimenez (Sp) pounds 518,820

5 P Sjoland (Swe) pounds 500,137

6 T Bjorn (Den) pounds 470,798

7 J M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 449,133

8 E Els (SA) pounds 433,884

9 A Coltart pounds 388,816

10 M Gronberg (Swe) pounds 358,779

11 S Leaney (Aus) pounds 310,643

12 P Baker pounds 307,163

(GB unless stated)

FINAL SCORES FROM MONTECASTILLO

271 D Clarke 67 73 68 63). 273 A Coltart 69 73 65 66. 274 C Montgomerie 70 67 69 68. 275 P Baker 69 72 67 67; P O'Malley (Aus) 67 71 67 70. 276 B Langer (Ger) 72 69 67 68. 278 JM Olazabal (Spa) 68 70 70 70. 279 R Allenby (Aus) 69 73 70 67; S Torrance 72 69 69 69; C Hainline (USA) 73 70 67 69; E Els (Rsa) 70 71 68 70. 280 P Lonard (Aus) 68 66 75 71; A Cejka (Ger) 67 73 69 71; S Leaney (Aus) 71 70 68 71; L Westwood 70 68 67 75. 281 MA Jimenez (Spa) 71 72 69 69; P Harrington 70 69 70 72; M Gronberg (Swe) 73 67 68 73. 282 K Tomori (Jpn) 72 71 70 69; G Chalmers (Aus) 67 75 70 70; P McGinley 68 72 69 73; G Brand Jnr 67 74 68 73. 283 J Sandelin (Swe) 67 71 73 72. 284 S Luna (Spa) 69 72 72 71; J Van de Velde (Fra) 75 69 68 72. 285 R Karlsson (Swe) 72 77 68 68; A Cabrera (Arg) 70 69 74 72; G Turner (Nzl) 73 72 68 72. 286 E Romero (Arg) 75 73 69 69; V Phillips 73 71 71 71; R Wessels (Rsa) 71 71 72 72; S Webster 70 75 67 74; P Mitchell 72 70 68 76. 287 M Florioli (Ita) 74 73 69 71. 288 P Quirici (Swi) 72 74 73 69. 289 C Rocca (Ita) 71 75 72 71; M Roe 73 69 75 72; M McNulty (Zim) 73 7074 72; J Spence 69 74 72 74; N Faldo 71 73 70 75. 290 I Woosnam 74 71 74 71; S Allan (Aus) 74 72 73 71; R Claydon 72 71 75 72; D Gilford 69 73 75 73; P Price 71 72 74 73; S Ballesteros (Spa) 72 72 71 75; T Bjorn (Den) 72 67 75 76; I Garbutt 72 73 68 77. 291 R Goosen (Rsa) 75 68 79 69; P-U Johansson (Swe) 71 75 73 72; P Sjoland (Swe) 72 72 73 74; G Orr 69 75 72 75; D Howell 72 71 72 76. 292 P Broadhurst 72 75 71 74; S Struver (Ger) 72 71 71 78. 294 M Hallberg (Swe) 73 72 73 76; M Lanner (Swe) 77 72 69 76; T Gogele (Ger) 72 74 69 79. 295 O Karlsson (Swe) 75 75 74 71. 296 P Fulke (Swe) 69 74 75 78. 298 M Harwood (Aus) 74 74 73 77; T Johnstone (Zim) 72 72 74 80. 299 I Garrido (Spa) 72 76 73 78. 300 D Carter 77 76 69 78. 312 Cheng Jun (Chn) 73 70 84 85. Retired: M James.

(GB or Irl unless stated)

Comments