Woods joins outcry over US takeover of the world

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The Independent Online

Two golfing divorces dominated all the talk on the eve of the Dubai Desert Classic; "Colin Montgomerie versus Eimear" and "America versus the rest of the world". It is fair to say the latter has the greater potential for heartbreak.

At least Montgomerie can now carry on with his life - not to mention this week's task of beating one Tiger Woods - after reaching a reported £15m out-of-court settlement with his former wife and so avoiding being hit with a "Ray Parlour" and having to hand over a percentage of his future earnings.

"You can see I'm OK and you can see how I am," said Montgomerie, positively beaming despite having flown through the night to complete a 36-hour round trip back to London from the Middle East to bring down the curtain on two years of bitter wrangling. If only the argument over the World Golf Championships could be settled so straight-forwardly.

When the WGC events were first introduced in 1999, it was commonly thought that the three "top-50 players" tournaments would spread the golfing gospel across the globe. Alas, here we are, seven years later, and the US Tour has unilaterally decided that, from next year, it will stage all of the WGC spectaculars on American soil.

Cue outrage, and not only at the European Tour Players' Committee meeting here at the Emirates Golf Club on Tuesday, but also, more intriguingly, from Woods yesterday. "Of course, the WGCs should be held in other places rather than just America," said the world No 1. "It's our responsibility to play around the world and grow the game as much as we can." Ernie Els, the world No 5, concurred. "It's crazy," said the South African. "They're called the World Golf Championships, aren't they?"

So what can the European Tour do about it? Nothing much, or so it seems if their gloomy statement is anything to go by. "We have communicated our disappointment," it read, "and can confirm that we did offer to host one of the World Golf Championships, but this was rejected."

Which, all in all, summed up the mood here; a shame when so many of the game's finest are in attendance. For not only are Woods, Els and Montgomerie ready to do battle on a great course, but Retief Goosen, Mark O'Meara, Darren Clarke and Henrik Stenson also help make this a truly "world-class" European Tour event. Enjoy it while it lasts, whispered the cynic.

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