Montgomerie keen to win 'league' for eighth time

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He signified as much by declaring yesterday that he is not merely at Valderrama in the "Costa Del Col", as he would have it known, this week to collect his eighth Order of Merit, a reclamation after a six-year gap that would rank with any golfing comeback.

"I have come here to win," the 42-year-old said when asked whether it would be simply a case of keeping tabs on Michael Campbell, the New Zealander, £105,000 behind him and the only one at this end-of-season spectacular who can overhaul him. "This is competition and I thrive on it."

Perhaps, that is why Montgomerie and Stamford Bridge have struck it off so famously, although his bachelor flat in the exclusive borough is also a reason. A few years ago the Premiership champions sent him a shirt with No 7 on the back of it. "I'm going to send it back to change it to eight if all goes well here," revealed the 42-year-old.

"Although they might also want to change the spelling. They've spelt my name MONTI. Maybe they think I'm Italian."

On the fairway he is a stallion, that is for sure, as he has proved with a quite phenomenal second half to his campaign that was fanfared at The Open with his runner-up finish to Tiger Woods in July. It has certainly been a contrast to the aftermath of "Jakartagate", that tawdry affair in March that saw Montgomerie accused of all manner of sins after an erroneous drop was caught on the television cameras giving him an undeniable advantage.

A bad memory, no doubt, but as he won £24,000 that week when he should really have been disqualified, one that could yet come back to bite him.

Campbell was staying schtum yesterday on what he would feel if he lost out by less than that particular purse, although he did cock the subtlest of snoops at his rival by announcing he would rather have one Major in his locker than seven Order of Merits.

Campbell won his first Major at the US Open in June. Monty, of course, is still waiting, but still can taste how sweet it was when presented with a trophy to mark the "Monty Years".

"It says on it that it is a record that will forever remain unique," he said of the uninterrupted run between 1993 and 1999. "I don't feel my career is not full without a Major. I am very proud to have won the league seven times in a row and it is time to do it again."

It could even have been Jose Mourinho talking.

How Monty could yet be denied

What Campbell must do to overtake Montgomerie in the Order of Merit race. Montgomerie has won €2,587,556 (£1.75m) and is €153,487 clear of Campbell. So to leapfrog the Scot this week, the New Zealander must finish:

* First and win the Volvo Masters (€666,660) meaning where the Scot finishes is academic

* Outright second (€444,440) and hope Montgomerie does not win

* Outright third (€250,400) with Montgomerie doing no better than ninth

* Outright fourth (€200,000) with Montgomerie no better than 23rd

* Outright fifth (€169,600) with Montgomerie no better than 55th.

* With a minimum prize of €15,300 on offer for last place, Campbell must finish in the top five.