Monty wins fourth tour award

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Colin Montgomerie has won the European tour's Golfer of the Year award for a record-breaking fourth time.

Colin Montgomerie has won the European tour's Golfer of the Year award for a record-breaking fourth time.

Winner of the Order of Merit for a seventh successive season - another record - and outstanding at the Ryder Cup, Montgomerie regains the trophy he lost to Lee Westwood last year.

A panel of golf writers and broadcasters gave the 36-year-old Scot the Asprey and Garrard-sponsored award ahead of Spanish rookie sensation Sergio Garcia, Open champion Paul Lawrie and Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal.

"The fact that I have beaten the people I have shows what a good year I must have had," said Montgomerie. "It's a great honour to receive this award again.

"Olly's victory at the Masters was superb, then we had a European winner at the Open as well.

"It wasn't the one we all expected with a hole to go (Frenchman Jean Van de Velde led by three, but famously triple-bogeyed), but to have a Scot winning in Scotland was a fantastic achievement and I am sure Paul will go on to bigger and better things.

"The way he performed at the Ryder Cup showed that he is a world player and wants to be there.

"And then there's Garcia, who's a whole different ball game. This guy is our future along with Lee Westwood I suppose.

"I'm talking about someone damn near half my age. The future is in very good hands - Sergio had a phenomenal season."

Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo are both three-time winners of the Golfer of the Year award, while Bernhard Langer has taken it twice and Ian Woosnam, Ernie Els and Westwood once each.

Montgomerie again failed to win his first major title, but in creating new record earnings of just over £1.3million on the Order of Merit he claimed five titles and then added the Cisco World Match Play crown at Wentworth.

"It was the best of my seven Order of Merits, I can honestly say that," he added. "I've never won as many times and I've never shown such a level of consistency throughout the whole year.

"OK, I didn't win a major and people will look at that, but my worst finish was 15th and to be second to Tiger Woods in the stroke average for the four majors was nice to achieve.

"That gives me encouragement as we go into a New Year and so does my world ranking, where I've moved up from seventh to third. It must have been a good year!

"It augurs well. It was obviously disappointing not to retain the Ryder Cup, but it was another thrilling one and I was glad I was able to perform as I did. Hopefully, that will stand me in good sted as well."

Despite being heckled in the States again, Montgomerie won three and a half points out of a possible five in Boston and ended up as joint top points-scorer with partner Lawrie, Garcia, Swede Jesper Parnevik and American Hal Sutton.

"I am as ambitious now as I've ever been - I've not rested on any laurels and I want to achieve more. I don't think I've played my best yet.

"I believe everybody is given 10 years at the top to go at it and I am coming towards the end of that, so I'd like to go on improving the next couple of years and see what happens.

"I would like to win a major sure, but if that doesn't happen I will always look back on these seven Order of Merits and these Golfer of the Year awards and it will sink in one day.

"It hasn't yet - people say it's a fantastic achievement, but when you're doing it you don't feel what you are achieving.

"I will look back one day and think 'Wow, that was really something."'

Montgomerie rates his successful defence of the Volvo PGA championship at Wentworth as his best all-round display of 1999 - he shot a closing 64 to win by five - but most special to him was his three-stroke victory in the Standard Life tournament at Loch Lomond.

Again he finished with a 64, producing "the best iron display I have ever shown", but it was the fact that it was his first solo success on home soil which meant so much.

Montgomerie, second to Ernie Els in the Million Dollar Challenge in South Africa this weekend, does not play again until the World Championship match play event in California in late-February.

Unlike Lawrie, he has resisted the temptation to join the US Tour.

"Europe is my home," he states. "I'm not one to run off to America and I look forward to playing a full season here again next year."

Having also won the Benson and Hedges International Open, there are four titles to defend on British soil for a start.

Winners of European Golfer of the Year:

1985 - Bernhard Langer1986 - Seve Ballesteros1987 - Ian Woosnam1988 - Seve Ballesteros1989 - Nick Faldo1990 - Nick Faldo1991 - Seve Ballesteros1992 - Nick Faldo1993 - Bernhard Langer1994 - Ernie Els1995 - Colin Montgomerie1996 - Colin Montgomerie1997 - Colin Montgomerie1998 - Lee Westwood1999 - Colin Montgomerie