Monty back at scene of triumph

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The Independent Online
A year ago, Colin Montgomerie won the Dubai Desert Classic by one stroke from Miguel Jimenez with the help of a birdie at the last hole. The par- five 18th at the Emirates club features water in front of the green, but the fearless Scot hit his driver from the fairway to 15 feet to seal the victory.

His effort was voted the shot of the year, and earlier this week Montgomerie attempted to recreate it. The European No 1 arrived here last Friday and has been making an instructional video based on course management.

With his first try, Monty hit it to 10 feet and, given that some of the takes took double figures to achieve, was ready to stop there. Persuaded to continue, his fourth attempt hit the pin and dropped into the cup for what would have been an albatross.

The key, however, to the win that put him on the road to a fourth successive money list title was his putting. "I holed everything from six feet and in," Montgomerie explained. "If you could do that every week, you would win every tournament."

Montgomerie never achieved the same level of performance on the greens again last year, nor in his opening two events in Australia this year. "I thought I had to change something," he said. "I was trying a new putter while working on the video and thought it felt good."

This year's Desert Classic, which starts today, is the first full European Tour event of the season. Not only is Jose Maria Olazabal attempting to play his first tournament for 18 months after recovering from his crippling foot injury, but Greg Norman is also here.

The world No 1 was ordered to rest his back and has hardly played for three months, apart from the little matter of picking up $1m (pounds 625,000) at the Andersen Consulting World Championship in January. In the meantime he has been busy with his businesses, but now it is back to golf. "I wanted to get some rounds under my belt before defending at Doral next week," Norman said.

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