Woods confirms his world domination

While the magnitude of a seventh consecutive Order of Merit triumph by Colin Montgomerie is hard to comprehend, it is but a fraction of the gap that currently separates the world No 1, Tiger Woods, from the European No 1 and every other player.

While the magnitude of a seventh consecutive Order of Merit triumph by Colin Montgomerie is hard to comprehend, it is but a fraction of the gap that currently separates the world No 1, Tiger Woods, from the European No 1 and every other player.

If Montgomerie dominates in Europe, or more specifically in Britain where four of his six wins came, Woods now dominates wherever he goes. His victory in the AmEx World Championship on Sunday was his ninth of the year and made him the first player since Johnny Miller in 1974 to win eight official US PGA Tour events. He is also the first to win four consecutive US tour starts since Ben Hogan in 1953.

Since mid-May, Woods has failed to win only three of 11 tournaments. Miguel Angel Jimenez put up one of the bravest challenges on Sunday on a Valderrama course few know better under such tricky conditions. Jimenez, who had already won twice this season in his home state of Andalucia, bogeyed the 18th hole twice but if Woods was fortunate to win in a play-off, a triple-bogey eight at the notorious 17th was too harsh a penalty during one of the finest rounds ever compiled in such conditions.

The new season-ending World Championship event saw a battle between the two winners of the old tour finales on both sides of the Atlantic. Along with the majors, the three WGC events make seven occasions when the leading players are brought together. Woods won three of those seven events, was in the top seven in three others and 18th at the Masters.

In comparison, Montgomerie had only one top-10 finish and ranked between 11th and 33rd in the others. "I need to sort out my putting," the Scot said. "I've played enough with the top Americans to know I do not putt well enough. I don't hole out enough. I use too many grips and too many techniques on the course. I need to find one technique and stick to it and that's what I'll do over the winter. That's the area of my game I have to improve to be able to win in America and more consistently around the world."

A secure home life, a "fantastic self-belief" and good course management skills between himself and his caddie, Alastair McLean, are the reasons Montgomerie gave for his continued reign as European No 1. "Seve Ballesteros won six of these things and to surpass that is unbelievable," the 36-year-old said. "I have had to improve every year to keep winning and that's what means most to me. I'll be just as determined next year."

But Lee Westwood, who moved up from third in the last two years to second on the Order of Merit, will not be picking up the gauntlet. "It was nice to have a chance going into the final round of the last tournament but next year will be different," the 26-year-old said. In contrast to his earlier assertions that American was not the place for him, Westwood is rethinking his schedule.

"I'll probably play less in Europe and a little bit more in America. I feel it is more important to be No 1 in the world rankings than No 1 in Europe. Realistically, to achieve that, you have to play in America. Look at Tiger, he comes over for the Deutsche Bank and the AmEx and wins both."

Yet if anyone is to challenge Woods, Sergio Garcia must be the favourite. Still a teenager until January, El Niño only turned professional in April but finished third on the Order of Merit, won twice, was runner-up to Woods in the USPGA and became the youngest player to appear in the Ryder Cup. It has been a phenomenal entrance on to the golfing scene and yesterday it was confirmed Garcia has won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award.

"This is great," said Garcia, only the second Spaniard to win the award after Jose Maria Olazabal in 1986. "You can only be a rookie once and I feel fortunate to have achieved so much in my first season. When I was young I really looked up to Jose Maria and it is great to see his name on the list along with others like [Nick] Faldo, [Sandy] Lyle and Montgomerie."

With such young and charismatic stars as Woods and Garcia, the game is entering the new millennium in good shape. It does so on the back of highly dramatic moments, such as David Duval shooting a 59 to win a tournament, Olazabal's emotional Masters victory, Jean Van de Velde's collapse and Paul Lawrie's surprise win in The Open. There is also mourning for the death of the US Open champion, Payne Stewart, in a plane crash last month.

As for Woods, when Olazabal said he is "playing like the angels," he did not mean his compatriots, the Miguels Jimenez and Martin. Woods started last week by saying he still had plenty of improvements to make "in all areas of my game". At the end of it, he added: "It was a great way to end the year. Hopefully next year I'll play the same type of golf and we'll see about the number of victories, but see if I can continue to improve."

Woods' next appearance is as the defending champion at this week's Johnnie Walker Classic in Taiwan, the opening event on the 2000 European Order of Merit. There will then, thankfully, be a rather longer break, until next January, than the official three day "off-season".

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments