Golf: Montgomerie's gain

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The Independent Online
COLIN MONTGOMERIE ended two years of frustration and a string of second-place finishes by capturing the Dutch Open and a pounds 180,000 cheque with a magnificent closing 69 at a windy Noordwijk yesterday.

In conditions reminiscent of Pebble Beach last year, when he shot a last-round 70 to earn third place in the US Open, the 30-year-old Scot ground out an impressive three-under-par round to beat the Argentinian Jose Coceres and Jean van de Velde of France by one stroke.

Montgomerie battled through the field as winds gusted to 40mph to outstay his rivals by finishing with a seven-under-par total of 281. Ian Woosnam was two shots further back on 283 for fourth place.

Van de Velde, Coceres and Woosnam all held the whip hand at one stage but faltered over the treacherous last three holes as Montgomerie came home in 34 with an eagle and eight pars to claim his third European victory.

'I've waited a long time for this win,' Montgomerie said. 'There have been a lot of disappointments and near misses but I felt I just had to be patient and it would eventually happen.'

Montgomerie, who has been runner-up five times since his last victory in the Scandinavian Masters in July 1991, was forced to fret for an hour before victory was confirmed.

A thunderstorm caused play to be suspended for 45 minutes and when it resumed, both Woosnam and Coceres bogeyed the 16th to fall back.

Montgomerie revealed he had not even intended entering the Dutch Open, but decided to 'play my way out of a rut' after missing the cut in the Open last week.

He said: 'I was going to take the week off but I'm glad I decided to come. I now have the confidence for the rest of the year and the Ryder Cup.'

Starting four strokes behind Coceres, Montgomerie was spectacular around the turn, holing from 40 feet for a birdie at the ninth and rattling in a 35-footer for a precious eagle at the 11th.

He admitted: 'It was just like the US Open at Pebble Beach with the winds gusting all day. But I had been patient all week and I was determined to be patient today. It was a good round of golf - definitely in my personal top 10.'

Montgomerie's win took him to second place in the Ryder Cup points list while Woosnam improved his prospects of an automatic Ryder Cup place by earning pounds 32,500 to move into 14th.

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 27