Montgomerie concedes top spot

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie finally conceded that his time at the top of European golf was over at this week's $2.9 million (3.4 million euros) Volvo Masters tournament in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

Colin Montgomerie finally conceded that his time at the top of European golf was over at this week's $2.9 million (3.4 million euros) Volvo Masters tournament in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

"All good things come to an end," Montgomerie said. "The competition have played very well. I think they've all had enough of me. All credit to the man who comes out on top."

The Scot bowed out in some style, shooting a final-round 65 over the par-72, 6,453-meter, (7,058-yard) Montecastillo course but it was not enough.

True, he finished ninth here and won $65,756 (77,368 euros) and mathematically, victory in next week's American Express World Championship event at Valderrama, Spain could save his place on the summit.

The winner's check at Valderrama is $1,000,000 (1,160,901 euros) and the gap between Montgomerie and current European money-leader Darren Clarke is now $820,870 (965,730 euros).

But Montgomerie would need to beat the powerful world-class field headed by Tiger Woods at Valderrama and hope Clarke finished outside the top-10.

All this week, the seven-time European number one has stressed the need to win both this week to be assured of the number one spot.

"Next week, you've got to beat Tiger Woods, haven't you?," he said he told himself, smiling. "That's almost impossible for us, all year."

Sunday, he was clearly resigned to losing his long supremacy.

"But I've got nothing more to prove here," he emphasized. "I still have goals. Next year I will add one warm-up event before the US Open and one before the USPGA. Because I want to win a major before I'm finished. I am good enough."

During his seven-year term, Montgomerie collected 22 European titles--two wins coming this year--and had banked $8,723,15 (10,262,510 euros) in official European prize-money prior to this week's Volvo Masters.

The 37-year-old Scot has been European's Jekyll-and-Hyde for close on a decade.

One moment a witty, fluent analyst, the next a petty, scowling figure berating nose-blowing spectators or unwary photographers, Montgomerie has been the champion Europe loved to hate.

For the media, he has been an inexhaustible source of stories and headline-grabbing quotes.

His golf and competitive spirit--he assumed on-course European leadership with 3.5 points in the last Ryder Cup encounter at Brookline--has been admired by fellow players. His personality has provoked irony and amusement.

Sunday, after news of several possible American pullouts from next week's World Championship tournament, Montgomerie was in a reflective mood about the all-powerful USPGA Tour.

"You can understand the pullouts," he said. "It reflects the strength of the American Tour. And that strength is hurting European and world golf. Last place in Valderrama gets $25,000. This week in the Tour Championship last place gets 150,000. All credit to Tiger Woods for travelling so much. Without him, that would kill it off."

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