Montgomerie opens fire on Els for missing Masters finale

The Volvo Masters is supposed to be the season-ending extravaganza where the European Tour signs off the campaign with a smile, a hearty farewell and a good old backslap for the campaign's most deserving champion. Yeah, right. Try a scowl and a verbal onslaught. And for the golfer who may yet win the Order of Merit title? Well, let us just suggest that not everyone connected with the Tour would be wishing to aim their slaps at the back of Ernie Els.

Certainly not Colin Montgomerie, who finished his pro-am here yesterday before marching straight to the nearest notebook and complaining long and loud about the big South African – and others – electing to play at the Singapore Open instead. "The Order of Merit meant a lot to me and it obviously doesn't to everybody," said Montgomerie, referring to Els, who by playing in Asia is risking forsaking his near £200,000 lead at the head of the money list. "I would never, ever miss this. And when the word wheelbarrow is mentioned, that's not really right."

Indeed, "the filling the wheelbarrow with money" analogy has apparently struck so close to home in the privileged golfing environs as to cause considerable discomfort and Els's honesty in using it may prove his biggest mistake. It was after winning his seventh World Match Play crown at Wentworth last month that he gave his reasons for not going to the Costa del Sol. "How can I say it; the end of the year you've got the wheelbarrow out," he said, commendably not bothering to disguise the fact he is receiving an appearance fee – reported to be £500,000 – in Singapore.

By yesterday morning, Els had updated his description of the clash to something more hostile, accusing the Tour of "screwing up the dates, not me". Els's beef is that the Asian Tour event was scheduled first and that their European counterparts changed their dates knowing that those such as Els, Lee Westwood and Angel Cabrera had already signed contracts to play in .

Montgomerie, however, said: "I don't appreciate the problem they [Els and Co] had, no. Deals could have been done where they played two out of the next three years [in Singapore] or something like that. But this event should be the priority."

Padraig Harrington was quick to admit his pleasure at having a Els-free run at the defence of his title, but refused to castigate the Big Easy. "He's honouring a commitment and doing what he has to do," said the Open champion. Justin Rose pointed out what the Order of Merit would mean to him – "the pinnacle of my career so far".

To make it happen, the Englishman must finish in the top three, at the same time as ensuring Harrington (who is but £461 ahead of him) is behind him. Either of the two Swedes, Henrik Stenson and Niclas Fasth, could prevail if they win and placings go there way.

Montgomerie was not content just to square up to one of the Tour's most prominent members but also to his own Ryder Cup captain. Nick Faldo did start it all by apparently questioning Montgomerie's commitment at the recent Seve Trophy. Montgomerie called Faldo's outburst "strange", asked why he chose "to air his dirty laundry in public", revealed that other Ryder Cup members also felt perplexed and said that should "anyone have a grievance with me about anything like that, then please speak to me and not the media". Els might just see the irony in that last statement.

Race for the Order of Merit title

1 ERNIE ELS (SA)

£1,751,044

(Events: 18, Wins: 2, Top three: 6)

What he has to do: If Harrington or Rose fail to finish in the top three and if Stenson and Fasth don't win, he will hang on.

2 PADRAIG HARRINGTON (Irl)

£1,598,618

(Events: 14, Wins: 2, Top three: 2)

Must finish in the top three to overhaul Els, and beat Rose.

3 JUSTIN ROSE (Eng)

£1,598,157

(Events: 11, Wins: 1, Top three: 4)

Top three place is a must, and so is finishing ahead of Harrington.

4 HENRIK STENSON (Swe)

£1,393,260

(Events: 16, Wins: 2, Top three: 3)

Must finish first and pray neither Harrington nor Rose comes second.

5 NICLAS FASTH (Swe)

£1,314,028

(Events: 22, Wins: 1, Top three: 3)

Must finish first and pray neither Harrington nor Rose comes second or third.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment