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Monty brings merit title into reach

Evidence of this was provided in the high drama at Harding Park on Sunday night when the Scot followed up his first victory in 19 months at the Dunhill Links Championship with joint third in an enthralling American Express Championship that witnessed Tiger Woods winning his 11th WGC title out of the 22 he has so far contested.

True, all eyes were on the turbo-driven tussle of Woods and John Daly - agonisingly lost by The Wild Thing's missed two-footer at the second extra hole - but in picking up more than £200,000 Montgomerie made an eighth Ryder Cup appearance next year a near certainty while also moving £90,000 clear of Michael Campbell in the race for the Harry Vardon Trophy.

"Michael is not playing the next fortnight, while I'm in Madrid this week," said the new world No 14, now the highest-ranked Briton. "And I also feel I've an advantage at Valderrama in the Volvo Masters, a place I know very well. It's just a matter of keeping going."

Montgomerie certainly did that in California, until a bogey at the last consigned him into a tie with fellow Europeans Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

That left the jammed airwaves clear for the long-awaited "Woods and Daly Show" with the world No 1 putting his head in his hands when the pressure eventually did for his rival.

"It just felt so bad," said Woods, holding a cheque for $1.3m [£750,000]. "That's not how you're supposed to win. JD played beautifully all week."