Monty keen to make amends

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie is out to restore his pride on his first appearance here in the Qatar Masters this week. The Scotsman missed the cut in last week's Dubai Desert Classic for the first time in more than a decade, slumping to a second-round 79 at Emirates Golf Club.

A triple-bogey seven on his final hole condemned the 38-year-old to an early exit from the event for the first time since 1990, and he spent all weekend practising in Dubai to try and avoid a similar fate here.

"I practiced hard over the weekend. I spent six hours chipping because that was very poor in Dubai," he said "You were going to miss greens because it was firm and I left myself seven opportunities to get up and down and missed them all. Then I see Joey Sindelar has missed 18 greens and hasn't dropped a shot in a tournament in America. There's a big difference there and that's what I'm trying to work on."

Missing the cut by four shots in Dubai means Montgomerie has only played four rounds of competitive golf this year, pulling out of the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth with a back injury after the first round, and losing to Scott McCarron in the first round of the World Matchplay in California.

"The game is OK, it's just a matter of scoring, making the putts. I haven't actually played much golf," added the seven-times European No 1, who toured possible sites on Monday for a new golf course he hopes to construct. "My back caused me problems and for me the only way of getting better is competing under pressure. I hope I'll finish this tournament – it will be the first one."

Prize-money has been doubled to £700,000 and has attracted a high-quality field. Montgomerie is joined by Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke and the former champions Andrew Coltart and Paul Lawrie, and Zimbabwe's Tony Johnstone returns to defend the title he won a year ago.

Clarke is making his first appearance here since the inaugural event in 1998, when he finished tied for ninth, seven adrift of the eventual champion, Coltart.

The Ulsterman finished joint seventh last week without ever threatening to win the tournament, but closing rounds of 68 and 69 indicated he could be one to watch this week, especially if the wind blows as expected.

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