Golf: Montgomerie heads the money makers

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A chaotic end to the season amid the rain in Spain sees the Volvo Masters cut to 54-holes and Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie smiling. Andy Farrell reports from Jerez.

The 1997 European Tour was washed out yesterday leaving Colin Montgomerie high and dry as the money list winner for a record fifth successive time. A morning storm left the Montecastillo course flooded and with a bad forecast for tomorrow, the Volvo Masters was cut to a 54-hole tournament, giving Lee Westwood his first win this season.

It was a chaotic end to the year, but probably a fitting one. While things have not always gone smoothly off the course and on the greens, Westwood has been at the top of a cache of new young stars, Montgomerie the dominant figure.

The leaders never got near the course yesterday, the best anyone managing being 14 holes. Westwood held a three-stroke lead overnight from Padraig Harrington and his pounds 166,000 prize took the 24-year-old from Worksop to third on the money list.

And by finishing above Bernhard Langer and Darren Clarke, Montgomerie did more than enough to earn his pounds 160,000 bonus as the season's No 1. His tally was pounds 798,947, beating Langer by pounds 106,549 with Clarke fourth. He has collected career earnings in Europe of pounds 6,177,012.

"It's a season-long schedule and winning the Order of Merit for the fifth successive time is not an anti-climax," Montgomerie said. "The competition is increasing all the time. I feel I have improved every year in all aspects of my game and knowing I've achieved that is very satisfying. If I had stood still, I would have been overtaken."

Montgomerie's reign became when he won the Volvo Masters in 1993 to vault over Nick Faldo on to the top of the money list. No one has been able to shift him since. Seve Ballesteros and Langer were his closest challengers the following year, while it was not until the last putt on the last green that he beat Sam Torrance in 1995. Ian Woosnam had to give up at the penultimate event last year.

"My consistency has been very satisfying this year," Monty added. "I've not missed a cut world-wide and that's the first time I have achieved that. I have a terrific ambition. My desire to succeed has kept me going. I have hit more fairways and more greens but it is my desire that is my greatest asset."

That desire will see him announce today that he is taking up his US Tour card, but he will still keep his playing rights in Europe. If he is to have a successor, Westwood could be the man. "Most people expected Lee to hold on today," Montgomerie said. "He is a great asset for the European Tour."

"That's nice of Monty to say that," Westwood replied. "I was confident of holding on to a three-stroke lead. I have been hitting the ball well and putting well together for the first time this year. I have achieved a lot, and the Ryder Cup was the highlight, but it felt a bit empty without having won."

Being the European Tour, the day's non-events were far from straightforward. Mutiny was in the air. After play was first suspended due to lightning, two players, Sam Torrance and Greg Turner, refused to go back out.

Apart from the higher places on the money list, the season-ending event decided other things, like qualification for the Open and the US Open. Turner, winner of the British Masters, started the week in 17th place, two outside the mark needed to be exempt for the US Open.

"I want to qualify for the US Open, but I don't want to go there cooked," Turner said. "What good is a posthumous entry to the US Open to anyone? I told John Paramor [the tournament director] that I wasn't prepared to go out when it was not safe.

"I'm not looking to get nuked. There were lightning strikes when we were out on the third green and we sheltering under umbrellas for 20 minutes before they got us in. My wife has just had a baby and I was thinking about him. I didn't want to die before, but you change when you have new responsibilities.

"What are we doing, sending people out in a potentially dangerous situation? It's not the rain, or that I wanted to get home tonight. Safety should come first."

Mel Pyatt, from the sponsors, said: "I am sad on behalf of Volvo because this is our biggest event and we have lost out. But I think it was the right decision to cancel the final round. We are a very safety conscious company. Sam Torrance came to me and said he respected everything Volvo had done but he was withdrawing because he had nearly been hit by a strike."

With the last round called off, neither Torrance nor Turner's withdrawal stood, but Turner dropped to 18th in the table anyway.

VOLVO MASTERS (Montecastillo, Spain) Final-round scores (reduced to 54 holes, GB or Ireland unless stated): 200 L Westwood 65 67 68. 203 P Harrington 66 70 67. 204 J M Olazabal (Sp) 66 67 71. 205 R Karlsson (Swe) 68 67 70. 206 P O'Malley (Aus) 68 69 69; M McNulty (Zim) 64 69 73; P Sjoland (Swe) 64 68 74. 207 C Montgomerie 65 71 71. 208 E Romero (Arg) 71 69 68; I Woosnam 67 69 72; C Rocca (It) 69 65 74. 209 J Coceres (Arg) 68 69 72; S Ames (Trin) 67 69 73; M Long (NZ) 65 69 75. 210 D Carter 69 68 73; B Langer (Ger) 66 70 74; P Broadhurst 70 66 74; T Bjorn (Den) 70 66 74; P-U Johansson (Swe) 63 71 76; D Clarke 69 64 77. 211 D Howell 70 68 73; I Garrido (Sp) 70 66 75; P Lawrie 70 65 76. 212 M A Jimenez (Sp) 71 74 67; B Davis 70 71 71; P Price 69 71 72; R Allenby (Aus) 71 68 73; A Coltart 68 70 74. 213 A Cabrera (Arg) 72 72 69; S Ballesteros (Sp) 72 71 70; J Sandelin (Swe) 71 70 72. 214 S Struver (Ger) 72 75 67; D Chopra (Swe) 71 73 70; M Roe 70 73 71; P Baker 71 69 74; J Haeggman (Swe) 72 68 74; A Forsbrand (Swe) 70 69 75; N Fasth (Swe) 71 68 75; Zhang Lian-wei (Ch) 69 69 76; M James 68 69 77; P Mitchell 70 66 78. 215 D Gilford 68 73 74; G Turner (NZ) 72 69 74; R Goosen (SA) 75 66 74. 216 S Torrance 75 68 73. 217 M A Martin (Sp) 72 72 73; D Edlund (Swe) 75 68 74; R Green (Aus) 69 73 75; P McGinley 74 67 76; C Watts 70 70 77; T Gogele (Ger) 65 74 78; R Rafferty 68 71 77. 218 R Claydon 74 73 71; T Johnstone (Zim) 71 74 73; R Chapman 68 76 74; G Brand Jnr 72 72 74. 219 P Lonard (Aus) 72 72 75; W Westner (SA) 73 71 75; S Henderson 73 70 76. 220 A Cejka (Ger) 72 76 72. 222 C Whitelaw (SA) 76 72 74; R Russell 71 75 76. 223 R McFarlane 72 73 78. 226 Cheng Jun (Ch) 72 77 77. 227 M Jonzon (Swe) 74 77 76; M Harwood (Aus) 76 73 78.

EUROPEAN ORDER OF MERIT Final placings: 1 C Montgomerie (Sco) pounds 798,947; 2 B Langer (Ger) pounds 692,398; 3 L Westwood (Eng) pounds 588,718; 4 D Clarke (N Irl) pounds 537,409; 5 I Woosnam (Wal) pounds 503,562; 6 I Garrido (Sp) pounds 411,479; 7 R Goosen (SA) pounds 394,597; 8 P Harrington (Rep Irl) pounds 388,982; 9 J M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 385,648; 10 R Karlsson (Swe) pounds 364,542; 11 P-U Johansson (Swe) pounds 354,580; 12 C Rocca (It) pounds 315,077; 13 E Romero (Arg) pounds 290,469; 14 M James (Eng) pounds 271,510; 15 T Bjorn (Den) pounds 264,938; 16 R Russell (Sco) pounds 250,633; 17 P Sjoland (Swe) pounds 245,274; 18 G Turner (NZ) pounds 239,869; 19 J Haeggman (Swe) pounds 228,479; 20 R Claydon (Eng) pounds 225,005.