Montgomerie fears the New York factor

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The Independent Online
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Noisy and partisan New York crowds could be the biggest danger to Europe's Ryder Cup hopes, according to Colin Montgomerie.

The Scot, who will tee off today in the European Masters in Crans-sur- Sierre, said: "We are playing near New York and the crowd there are the loudest in the States. They will be very partisan and we must be mature enough to cope with it.

"We shall have to work things out beforehand and help our two rookies, Per-Ulrik Johansson and Philip Walton, as much as we can. If you expect bad crowd behaviour, things are never quite so bad as you imagine."

But he said he thought Jose- Maria Olazabal's foot injury might actually be a blessing in disguise. "If Jose-Maria cannot play twice a day it could be beneficial when we get to the singles.

"We tend to flog our top players and it does not pay off in the singles. In the last match I was the only one of the top six who won their singles. Jose-Maria, Seve [Ballesteros] and Bernhard Langer all lost and Nick [Faldo] and Woosie [Ian Woosnam] only halved, so we got just two points.

"Woosie is not in next month but we should expect at least three and half points from our top five this time. And if Jose- Maria only plays once on the first two days it will give greater opportunities to the other players."

Montgomerie said that now the Ryder Cup selection has been decided, the two rookies, Johansson and Walton, would be more relaxed and that he was glad that Howard Clark, who has played in five previous Cup matches, is in the team.

On one thing he is clear. He will not be following Faldo and play on the US Tour next year.

"I'm sticking to the same schedule, probably playing about eight tournaments in the States as I did this year," he says.

This week in Switzerland his main rivals for the European Masters title are expected to be Greg Norman and the US Open champion, Corey Pavin.

Norman, who won the World Series in Akron, Ohio at the weekend, is in prime form.

Montgomerie said that if he ever won as much money as Norman he would buy himself a jet. "It would change my life," he said. "Just think, you could go anywhere you liked on your own steam."

Of Norman himself, Montgomerie added: "He is a marketing dream. He plays well, speaks well, takes defeat well, accepts victory gracefully. He is the Arnold Palmer of my era.

"He has done everything so we all know what is attainable. You do it or you don't. Me, I just want to do the best I can do and that is all you can ask."

Two other top players vying for the Swiss title are Seve Ballesteros and Sam Torrance but both have different incentives. Ballesteros wants to regain form and confidence after a bad spell. Torrance wants to keep up his assault on the top place in the European Order of Merit.

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