Montgomerie faces opening-day test against Woosnam

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The Independent Online
Colin Montgomerie is not often lost for words. But he was momentarily yesterday when told the name of his opponent in the first round of the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth on Thursday.

Europe's No 1 was drawn against Europe's No 2, Ian Woosnam, in what is the first all-British opening-day tie at the event for 10 years. "I'm sure he won't be particularly impressed - as I'm not - but we'll both have to get on with it," Montgomerie said.

The Ryder Cup pair have dominated the European season. Woosnam won the opening two tournaments while Montgomerie was resting, but the Scot returned with a victory and they have each had two further wins. When Woosnam missed the half-way cut in the German Masters two weeks ago, Montgomerie clinched his fourth successive Order of Merit crown.

Montgomerie will be trying to make it fifth-time lucky in the World Match Play. He went out to Nick Faldo in the quarter- finals in 1991, to Corey Pavin at the last four stage in 1993, to Els in the 1994 final and to Elkington in the quarter-finals 12 months ago.

There is one landmark which he is certain to achieve this week. Even if he loses to the Welshman, the pounds 30,000 cheque would put him beyond pounds 5m in European tour earnings, a figure only Bernhard Langer and Faldo have reached before. Woosnam, the winner in 1987 and 1990, would move to within pounds 105,000 of the mark himself if he took the pounds 170,000 first prize on Sunday.

The American Mark Brooks, the winner of the US PGA championship in August, awaits the winner in Friday's quarter-finals.

TOYOTA WORLD MATCH PLAY (Wentworth, 17-20 October; seeded positions in brackets): 0815 and 1230: (8) S Elkington (Aus) v S Stricker (US). Winner to play (1) E Els (SA).

0830 and 1245: I Woosnam (GB) v (5) C Montgomerie (GB). Winner to play (4) M Brooks (US).

0845 and 1300: (6) P Mickelson (US) v V Singh (Fiji). Winner to play (3) S Jones (US).

0900 and 1315: N Serizawa (Japan) v (7) M O'Meara (US). Winner to play (2) T Lehman (US).