Monty: Faldo can improve with age

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie again refused the chance to get involved in a slanging match with Nick Faldo and instead backed his great rival to improve with age.

Colin Montgomerie again refused the chance to get involved in a slanging match with Nick Faldo and instead backed his great rival to improve with age.

Faldo, a six-time Major winner who has plummeted to 164 in the world rankings, recently questioned Montgomerie's reluctance to switch to the US tour and his inability to win a Major.

But the Scot, who has just completed a record seventh win as top European money winner, took time out from preparing for this week's Australian Open in Sydney to back Faldo's bid to revive his career.

"If there's anybody who can improve in his 40s, Faldo's it," the 36-year-old Montgomerie said. "He's very, very determined to get back to a position - not so much where he was but even to improve on that.

"No-one works at the game any harder than Nick. If anybody can, he's the man who can come back from where he is right now."

Montgomerie has not won in 62 starts in US PGA Tour events and has indicated he will play even fewer events there next year.

Faldo finished fourth in the brutal conditions of last year's Open at Royal Adelaide after a similarly poor season.

It is Faldo's first visit to Royal Sydney and he said the tree-lined course reminded him of Pinehurst, where he missed the cut in Payne Stewart's US Open triumph.

"It reminds me a lot of Pinehurst - there's a lot of run-offs around the greens and a lot of plateau greens.

"If you miss the greens there will be some very demanding shots to get back on to the green.

"It will take a lot of imagination around the greens - each hole has its own character."

Faldo, recently rejected by his caddie of 10 years Fanny Sunesson, has taken on local man Murray Lott this week.

Greg Norman will have the backing of his home crowd as the Shark goes hunting his sixth Australian Open title.

Montgomerie also had kind words for Norman, saying he is one of greats of golf.

"He's not short of being great at all, he's right up there," Montgomerie said. "He just got unfortunate in a few competitions in his life."

Montgomerie said Norman's strength under fire after losing the US Masters to Faldo in 1996 when he blew a massive lead in the final round was "fantastic".

"The way he's handled it has been absolutely terrific. I can't think of anyone else trying to handle that situation the way he has."

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