Golf: Monty a champion on merit, but not on charm: Colin Montgomerie went top of the European Tour class by scooping the pool at Valderrama. Tim Glover reports

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AS THE new standard-bearer for the European Tour, Colin Montgomerie's next move is to win a major championship and continue the rehabilitation of a man who has proved he can live with the best. His golf game is undeniably impressive but he still has a lot of work to do on the public relations front.

Big Monty began the season by being fined for criticising the King's course in Morocco and on Sunday evening he came up with the equivalent of a royal flush to scoop the bonus pool in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama. He won pounds 250,000 and that pushed him past the pounds 2m mark in only his sixth season as a card-carrying professional.

There is some Jekyll and Hyde in Big Monty's character and we saw both on Sunday. After he and Darren Clarke had scored 68 in the final round, which gave Montgomerie victory on aggregate by one stroke, the 30-year-old Scotsman spoke warmly of the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland. 'He didn't back up one bit,' Montgomerie said. 'He's certainly one to watch. He's unlucky to be nine under around Valderrama and not win. I just happened to play very, very well.'

In addition to the money, and a 10-year exemption and a grip on the Vardon Trophy as leading European, Montgomerie's victory earned him an invitation to the Johnnie Walker World Championship in Jamaica in December. The sponsors, who fly the players to Montego Bay all expenses paid, like to get a photograph of them accepting the invitation. On Sunday night Montgomerie told the photographer he was too busy. This is odd behaviour from a man who has a degree in business management from the Baptist University of Houston, Texas.

He can be truculent, petulant and, on occasions, downright rude. He can also be charming and eloquent. I suspect he does not have a great deal of respect for the Fourth Estate, which can be forgiveable, but sadder is that there are times when the feeling is mutual. When he lost to a Paraguayan in the Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews there was a cheer in the press room. It was led by the Scottish golf writers. Perhaps his outstanding triumph at Valderrama will be the making of him.

Montgomerie's aggregate of 274 in the Volvo Masters was 10 under par and nobody had ever got near that in the six-year history of the tournament. It comes at the end of a long, hard season and is played on a long, hard course and while others complained of being jaded or worse - Nick Faldo (tendinitis), Ian Woosnam (spondylitis) and Seve Ballesteros (lumbago and a no- show) - Montgomerie drove a neat path through and over the cork trees, the bunkers and the lakes.

Faldo finished joint 25th, 17 shots behind Montgomerie and was demoted to second in the Merit table. Big Monty had one bogey in the final round, only six in the championship. Clarke had six birdies on Sunday, including one at the last which separated him from David Gilford, but he could not catch the leader. Nevertheless, the smile from Clarke's face could not be erased. Clarke, from Dungannon in Ulster, was 112th in the Merit table in 1991 with pounds 30,812; 41st last year with pounds 141,719; eighth this year with pounds 369,675. His first victory came in the Alfred Dunhill Open in Belgium last month and with it a cheque for pounds 100,000; on Sunday his second place in the Volvo Masters won him pounds 83,400.

Clarke is even bigger than Big Monty, weighing in at around 17 stone, and he has not been entirely successful in his ambition to shed a few stone this season. The fact that he is a boy who likes the black stuff tends to interfere with the diet but it has not interfered with his golf. He is a fearless striker with the driver and a good putter. Clarke is managed by Chubby Chandler, a former Tour professional, and their latest plan is to open a sports bar in Manchester. 'We intend to call it the Fat Boys' Cafe,' Chubby said.

Clarke, like Montgomerie, has all to play for next year and qualification for the 1995 Ryder Cup team who play the United States in Rochester, New York, will begin in September. Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour, said it was possible that for the first time the three major championships in America in 1995, the Masters, the US Open and the US PGA, would count, for the Europeans participating, towards Ryder Cup points.

Prize-money next year on the European Tour will be in the region of pounds 25m. But Schofield said: 'We don't have a queue of sponsors. These are tough times. Golf is protected because the game is growing. We have the resources to generate money to sustain the tour for the players.'

Schofield said he was not looking to extend the season beyond 40 weeks although he thought that by the turn of the century the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary could feature on the itinerary. His end-of-season report did not carry the buoyancy of previous years. He highlighted Bernhard Langer's victory in the Masters at Augusta and Faldo's near misses in the Open and the US PGA. 'It was disappointing we didn't regain the Ryder Cup,' he said, 'but that was quickly erased because it was an outstanding match between outstanding teams with two outstanding captains.'

As for the Ryder Cup venue in Spain in 1997, an announcement will probably be made next April. In the ante-post betting, Valderrama is the hot favourite.


ORDER OF MERIT Leading final places: 1 C Montgomerie (Sco) pounds 613,682.70; 2 N Faldo (Eng) pounds 558,738.33; 3 I Woosnam (Wal) pounds 501,353.41; 4 B Langer (Ger) pounds 469,569.64; 5 S Torrance (Sco) pounds 421,328.19; 6 C Rocca (It) pounds 403,866.48; 7 P Baker (Eng) pounds 387,988.84; 8 D Clarke (N Irl) pounds 369,675.08; 9 G Brand Jnr (Sco) pounds 367,589.10; 10 B Lane (Eng) pounds 339,218.47; 11 M James (Eng) pounds 335,589.34; 12 R Rafferty (N Irl) pounds 311,125.03; 13 S Richardson (Eng) pounds 304,015.12; 14 F Nobilo (NZ) pounds 294,598.76; 15 J Haeggman (Swe) pounds 287,370.84; 16 D Gilford (Eng) pounds 273,301.31; 17 J Parnevik (Swe) pounds 272,511.73; 18 J-M Olazabal (Sp) pounds 249,493.14; 19 P Broadhurst (Eng) pounds 243,588.17; 20 W Westner (SA) pounds 226,297.89.

Most wins: 3 S Torrance (Kronenbourg Open, Heineken Catalan Open, Honda Open).

Lowest total: 266 (-22) P Baker (Dunhill British Masters).

Biggest winning margin: 7 shots P Baker (Dunhill British Masters), J Parnevik (Bell's Scottish Open).

Lowest round: 63 (-9) J Berendt (Portuguese Open), C Rocca (Lyon Open), S Torrance (Heineken Catalan Open, Jersey European Airways Open), P Baker (Dunhill British Masters), I Palmer (Jersey European Airways Open), P Fowler (BMW International), S Struver (Austrian Open), M A Jimenez (Canon European Masters), C Beck (Mercedes German Masters); 63 (-7) M McLean (Johnnie Walker Classic), N Faldo (Open Championship), P Stewart (Open Championship), D Feherty (Lancome Trophy), D Gilford (Lancome Trophy).

Consecutive years with a victory: 15 B Langer; 8 I Woosnam.

First-time winners: W Westner (Dubai Desert Classic), A Oldcorn (Turespana Masters), J Payne (Turespana Balearic Open), C Rocca (Lyon Open), J Van de Velde (Rome Masters), J Haeggman (Peugeot Spanish Open), J Parnevik (Bell's Scottish Open), P Fowler (BMW International), D Clarke (Alfred Dunhill Belgian Open).

Birdie kings: 442pts S Richardson (420 birdies, 11 eagles); 404 C Rocca (382 birdies, 11 eagles); 398 B Lane (366 birdies, 16 eagles).

Albatrosses: T Gogele (Madeira Island), G Brand Jnr (Madrid Open).

Earnings: 13 players earned more than pounds 300,000, six more than pounds 400,000, three more than pounds 500,000 and one more than pounds 600,000.