Golf: Monty returns to scene of past misery

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The Independent Online
Six years ago, Kiawah Island staged a dramatic and controversial Ryder Cup. This week the fearsome Ocean Course needs to be tamed again in the World Cup, golf's gentler team event, from which Fred Couples has had to withdraw. Andy Farrell reports from South Carolina.

Not everyone was overwhelmed when it was announced that the 43rd World Cup of Golf was to be played on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Bernhard Langer, for one, decided to leave the German challenge in the capable, if less renowned, hands of Alex Cejka and Sven Struver.

Langer has been a great supporter of the two-man nations competition, winning the individual trophy in 1993. But returning to the site of his missed six-footer, on the last green of the last match, with which America regained the Ryder Cup six years ago was too much to ask.

Four members of that European team - England's Paul Broadhurst and Mark James, Ian Woosnam, of Wales, and the Scot Colin Montgomerie - are here hoping to take home better memories than those from what was dubbed the `War on the Shore'.

Fred Couples was due to appear alongside Davis Love. The pair won the World Cup four years in a row from 1992, but Couples has remained in Seattle to comfort his father in his fight against leukaemia.

He has been replaced by the Open champion, Justin Leonard, who like Love and Ernie Els arrived yesterday after playing in the 36-hole Grand Slam event for the four major winners in Hawaii. The threesome flew across half of the Pacific, the whole of America and five time-zones to tee up in the pro-am.

It was worth their while. Els, who defends the World Cup title he and Wayne Westner won for South Africa in Cape Town last year, picked up $400,000 (pounds 245,000) after beating Tiger Woods by three with a second- round 65. Leonard earned $150,000 for finishing fourth.

Montgomerie started the unofficial, or "silly", season well by winning the King Hassan Trophy in Morocco using a new set of irons. In his singles match in the '91 Ryder Cup he scored an approximate 81, but halved with Mark Calcavecchia. Five down at the turn, the Scot won the last four holes with scores of six, five, five, four. He blamed the new, hard course with its ultra-fast greens. "It is softer now so the fairways will play wider," he said.

Though Montgomerie, after some agonising, decided to remain based on the European tour, where he has won the money list five times in a row, he will take up his maximum allocation of 12 events in America next year.

"The main point was whether I felt I could win a major playing in Europe," Monty said. "I know I can. It is about getting my schedule right, not playing in Europe the week before a major in America, that sort of thing. I am fortunate that I have the option to do a bit of both. I am comfortable in Europe because I have been successful. Why change a successful pattern?"