Golf: Montgomerie out to raise Scots' standard: England's World Cup campaign hit by Gilford doubt. Robinson Holloway reports from Orlando, Florida

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The Independent Online
OVER the 40 years of World Cup competition, this event has seen dramatic shifts in its importance. It was cancelled twice during the Eighties, but some things remain constant: the teams from the countries with the fewest golf courses wear the best uniforms, and England and Scotland never win.

With Colin Montgomerie, winner of both the Order of Merit and last week's Volvo Masters, teamed with Sam Torrance, this could be Scotland's best chance to take the World Cup. Montgomerie said: 'This week's going to be great. Sam's playing well, I'm still on a high, and we both like the course. I've got to help Sam, and see if I can relax and not think about what I've just done, because usually after a win you don't play that well.'

England's prospects are uncertain. David Gilford was named last week to play instead of Nick Faldo, but there was concern earlier this week that the replacement might need to be replaced. Gilford missed the opening ceremonies at Lake Nona on Tuesday, had a minor operation later that day, and checked out of his hotel. He appeared in time for the pro-am tournament yesterday feeling more embarrassment than anything else. Prior to his round yesterday he said: 'It's not too bad right now. I've got plenty of painkillers, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm playing.'

The rules are flexible enough to accommodate a late change for Gilford, so long as two Englishmen are at the first tee this morning. Rumour has it that Howard Clark is somewhere in Florida and could be available at the last minute.

It has been a week for pre-tournament misfortune. Bernhard Langer missed the pro-am yesterday when his 10-month-old daughter's hands suffered burns. He is expected to return for today's first round.

There are several formidable teams among the 32 competing this week, but the joint-favourites are the defending champions, Fred Couples and Davis Love of the United States, and the team from Zimbabwe, Nick Price and Mark McNulty. The US have been very successful in team competition recently, with wins in the Walker, Ryder and Dunhill Cups, and Couples and Love are both playing extremely well.

The Zimbabwe team may be the most strongly motivated duo in the competition, as Price and McNulty have just been recognised by their government as Zimbabwean golfers. The two are relishing the opportunity to play under their country's flag.

Price has to cope with great pressures of expectation having topped the US prize-money list this year with a record total of dollars 1.4m ( pounds 1m), collected the Vardon Trophy for best scoring average, and being named Player of the Year. He is also a member at Lake Nona, plays it 50 times a year and is coached by David Leadbetter, whose headquarters here have made Lake Nona known throughout the golf world.

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