Monty wins reward from risk

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Golf

ANDREW FARRELL

reports from Dubai

As a warning shot, it sounded loud and clear. As a golf shot, it was struck with total authority and tinged with genius. Using a driver from the middle of the 18th fairway, Colin Montgomerie cleared the water, found the heart of the green, and two putts later had won his first tournament of the year.

Montgomerie, returning fitter and slimmer after a three-month lay-off, proved himself no less a competitor as he won the Dubai Desert Classic here yesterday by one stroke from Spain's Miguel Jimenez. The Scot's 18- under total was achieved with a final round 68 and his pounds 108,330 first prize puts the three-times European No 1 immediately in second place on the money list and almost half-way to catching the leader Ian Woosnam.

Leading by one at the par-five last, Montgomerie pushed his drive and had 222 yards to carry the water with his second shot. "I thought about laying up with a seven-iron," he said. "It was 80-20. I knew he could reach. I play percentage golf 99 per cent of the time, but this was the time to play to win."

Montgomerie was the runner-up here last year and has lost five play-offs, two in majors. "I've been second enough, and I don't like play-offs. I was delighted when the ball was on the green." A raised, clenched fist indicated such. Jimenez not only cleared the water, but the green, and could only chip and putt for a birdie. The Scot took the two putts he had for his 10th European win.

"To say I'm delighted to take time off and win my first tournament is an understatement," said Montgomerie, who rationed himself to one bogey a round. "I holed out well. Before the week I would have been satisfied with a top-10 finish. I have worked hard with my coach, Bill Ferguson, and I am going on to America as full of confidence as I ever have been at this game." He leaves on Sunday for a four-week trip, including the US Masters next month.

Jimenez lost his overnight lead at the 7th, where he took three putts while Montgomerie holed from 10 feet for a birdie. But a seven-iron to three feet at 14, and Montgomerie failing to get up and down at the next, brought the Spaniard level, only for him to miss the green at 16 and fail to get up and down himself. "I feel as I played well enough to win," Jimenez said after a 70. "But he is a fantastic player. The top players don't forget how to play."

Woosnam, one behind Montgomerie at the start, suffered his first dropped shots since day one, three of them, to close with a 74. The defending champion, Fred Couples, swept past with a 65 to finish fourth at 13 under, one behind the Australian Rob Willis. A former golf magazine journalist, Willis's prize of pounds 40,690 will not count on the Order of Merit as he failed to pay a pounds 2,000 affiliation fee to join the tour before the event.

DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC (Emirates Club) Leading final-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 270 C Montgomerie 67 68 67 68. 271 M A Jimenez (Sp) 63 68 70 70. 274 R Willis (Aus) 69 67 70 68. 275 F Couples (US) 69 69 72 65. 276 P Baker 71 67 66 72; R Burns 70 68 65 73. 277 C Mason 68 73 70 66; T Bjorn (Den) 70 71 67 69; J Townsend (US) 64 71 71 71; I Woosnam 69 69 65 74. 278 M Mouland 71 69 72 66; R Claydon 72 69 69 68; J Haeggman (Swe) 68 72 69 69; T Johnstone (Zim) 71 66 69 72. 279 D Hospital (Sp) 69 70 72 68, S Ames (Trin) 68 72 70 69. 280 D Carter 74 68 71 67; H Clark 71 69 70 70; J Spence 68 68 70 74. 281 P Lawrie 67 71 73 70; P Mitchell 71 70 70 70; I Garrido (Sp) 67 75 69 70; M Davis 75 65 70 71; E Romero (Arg) 70 70 69 72. 282 N Fasth (Swe) 70 72 72 68; S Bottomley 69 73 70 70; P Fowler (Aus) 74 67 71 70; P Broadhurst 69 69 72 72; G Emerson 72 69 69 72; O Karlsson (Swe) 69 71 69 73; D Gilford 68 70 71 73; G Evans 71 71 67 73; F Valera (Sp) 69 71 68 74. 283 S Cage 70 71 72 70; S Luna (Sp) 73 69 71 70; D Feherty 70 69 73 71; W Riley (Aus) 70 71 70 72; B Lane 70 72 69 72; G Levenson (SA) 72 67 71 73. 284 R Russell 70 70 74 70; D Smyth 71 70 73 70; A Cejka (Ger) 69 73 71 71; P Affleck 68 74 70 72; D Robertson 70 72 70 72; A Oldcorn 68 71 72 73; D J Russell 69 73 69 73; P Price 70 71 68 75. 285 F Tarnaud (Fr) 69 69 79 68; P McGinley 69 72 73 71; J Lomas 72 70 72 71; G J Brand 73 67 72 73. 286 R Willison 70 72 72 72; E Darcy 68 72 73 73; D Boulet (HK) 72 67 73 74; S Field 66 73 73 74; C Rocca (It) 70 71 66 79. 287 M James 73 69 75 70; A Coltart 71 71 74 71; P Curry 69 70 75 73. 288 H Buhrmannn (SA) 69 70 71 78. 289 M Lanner (Swe) 71 71 72 75. 290 R Karlsson (Swe) 72 70 78 70; C Cevaer (Fr) 68 72 75 75; M Gates 69 72 73 76. 291 F Lindgren (Swe) 71 70 78 72; R Wessels (SA) 70 68 78 75. 292 S Hurley 69 72 76 75; S Ballesteros (Sp) 71 70 74 77.

PGA EUROPEAN TOUR VOLVO RANKINGS (after Dubai Desert Classic): 1 I Woosnam (Wal) pounds 226,820; 2 C Montgomerie (Sco) pounds 108,330; 3 W Westner (SA) pounds 84,721; 4 A Coltart (Sco) pounds 83,108; 5 M A Jimenez (Sp) pounds 74,369; 6 M McNulty (Zim) pounds 71,508; 7 P McGinley (Irl) pounds 66,535; 8 P Hedblom (Swe) pounds 61,471; 9 S Struver (Ger) pounds 61,397; 10 J Coceres (Arg) pounds 58,609; 11 P Lawrie (Sco) pounds 57,410; 12 J Van de Velde (Fr) pounds 54,174; 13 E Romero (Arg) pounds 51,500; 14 D Feherty (N Irl) pounds 48,886; 15 O Karlsson (Swe) pounds 43,211; 16 P Eales pounds 38,048; 17 P Curry (Eng) pounds 37,282; 18 R Willison (Eng) pounds 36,917; 19 C Rocca (It) pounds 36,080; 20 B Pappas (SA) pounds 36,080.

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