Montgomerie counts the pennies

From the bodegas of Jerez, only the leading third of Europe's top players at the Volvo Masters yesterday made the hour and half journey to the cork trees of Valderrama. Two-thirds of the field of 60-odd at the American Express World Championship will arrive from further afield, mostly from Houston where Tiger Woods won for the seventh time in the States and eighth worldwide.

From the bodegas of Jerez, only the leading third of Europe's top players at the Volvo Masters yesterday made the hour and half journey to the cork trees of Valderrama. Two-thirds of the field of 60-odd at the American Express World Championship will arrive from further afield, mostly from Houston where Tiger Woods won for the seventh time in the States and eighth worldwide.

With a second US money list title already sewn up, Woods can do Colin Montgomerie a favour by winning the $1 million first prize. Montgomerie almost has a seventh European Order of Merit crown secured, but not quite. His lead of £410,900 over Sergio Garcia would look pretty handy but for the fact that £610,000 is available to the winner this week.

Should Garcia or Lee Westwood win, Montgomerie would have to finish second to retain his precious No 1 claim. Should Retief Goosen, one of the joint runners-up behind Miguel Angel Jimenez in the Volvo Masters on Sunday, win, then Montgomerie would probably still have to be in the top-eight. Of course, there are two ways for Montgomerie to decrease the stress level: by winning the title himself, or have someone else, such as Woods, take care of the big money.

Although Montgomerie, the world No 3, has stated his main aim is to overtake David Duval as the world No 2, the American's absence from Valderrama is irrelevant to the Scot. "I'm not thinking about overtaking David now," he said. "I've got my own agenda. I'll go out and try to win the tournament myself. That's what I'll be trying to do."

As for Woods, though, Montgomerie was sincere in his praise for the world No 1. He dismissed the idea that Woods might struggle on the tightly tree-lined course as he did during an unhappy Ryder Cup in 1997. "The way Tiger is playing, he is dangerous on any course, anywhere," Monty said. "He is the hot favourite to win this week. He is so far ahead of anyone else in the world of golf."

Yet Montgomerie, who finished 16th at Montecastillo on Sunday for his worst result in Europe since May, is happier to have to defend his crown at Valderrama than anywhere else. "I'm hitting the ball fine but last week was one of those courses where hitting the ball straight was not rewarded because the rough was non-existent.

"The whole tournament was a bit flat because of what happened at the start of the week [the death of Payne Stewart] and knowing that even if I won, it would not have made any difference." Of course, the whole idea of having a huge prize to play for in the last event was to keep the money list title alive to the very end, which is unfortunate only for Montgomerie. But his point that this week's event distorts the whole season is well made.

In contrast to the US tour, where the purses have increased significantly this year, this week's first prize is almost double that at the Open Championship and nearly three-times that of even the bigger European tour events.

"This week is all or nothing," said Monty, who has won five tour events this season. "It is like the Japanese Grand Prix being worth 30 points. But this is the seventh year in a row that I have ended the Volvo Masters leading the Order of Merit and I have never had such a big lead. I am looking forward to the challenge of Valderrama. Accuracy off the tee is important and I've done well there before."

As for the absence of Duval, and others such as Mark O'Meara and Fred Couples, Monty said: "This is an individual game. If you want to play, you can play. It is great that we have the opportunity to play for this amount of money. David has had a tough year and can't catch Tiger. I can understand that Valderrama is a long way to come when the money is not that much bigger than they played for at the Tour Championship."

However, there is little doubt Montgomerie is slightly irked at the concept of the World Championship and that some have declined to come over from the States when the Scot flew to San Diego for 15 holes of golf in the World Match Play at La Costa. "These are American events with American money and American TV. If it was a world tour, why was a huge American flag flying on the first tee at La Costa?"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living