Woods remains the man to beat
A bye to Friday did not help Montgomerie last year - he lost in the second round to Brad Faxon - but in 1994, having already beaten Yoshinori Mizumaki, Nick Faldo and Vijay Singh, it told against him when facing Ernie Els in the final. "We both won three matches, but they gave Ernie the trophy," Monty said.
"Pete Sampras may be the No 1 seed at Wimbledon but he doesn't get to play a match less. This tournament should have either 16 or eight players." With the ground soft underfoot and conditions likely to be poor, Monty has a point. But since Montgomerie is a client of the Mark McCormack's International Management Group, who run the event, the European No 1 quickly assured his audience he was glad to be here.
Eight of the other invitees are also IMG clients and the fact that Monty has been relegated from the lucky four to get a bye tomorrow is not only due to the increased strength of the field - three of the top four and six of the top-11 in the world are present - but IMG's fortune in having the world No 1, Tiger Woods, the Open and Masters champion, Mark O'Meara and the USPGA winner and defending champion, Vijay Singh, on their books.
Singh has been given the No 1 seeding, with the other seedings according to world ranking, with one exception. So while Woods is seeded two, O'Meara, the world No 3, and Els, the world No 4, have been flipped. So Els, a three-times winner, is scheduled to meet Woods in the semi-finals instead of what would be a dream final.
Such things add to a perception that the event should be renamed the "IMG Invitational". With a new World Match Play Championship for the world's top 64 players being introduced next year with $1m (pounds 600,000) for the winner, Wentworth's once impressive looking pounds 170,000 first prize, is now lagging behind the majors and other events in Europe and the US.
But as well as a history dating back to 1964, this tournament still has the attraction of the classic format of 36-hole matchplay. "Over 18 holes, anything can happen," said Montgomerie. "I've been known to lose to a Paraguayan, an Indian and last week a Chinaman," he added.
Those defeats were over medal-matchplay at St Andrews, but Montgomerie's record in straight matchplay is considerable. He is unbeaten in Ryder Cup singles and won the Andersen Consulting event at the start of the year. If there was a ranking strictly for matchplay, Monty would put himself higher than the sixth he is on the official version.
But Woods would be No 1 on both. "He is the best player in the world and favourite for every event he enters," Montgomerie said.
DRAW AND TEE-OFF TIMES: O845 and 1300 (8) S Stricker (US) v P Sjoland (Swe). Winner to play (1) V Singh (Fiji). 0900 and 1315 (5) C Montgomerie (GB) v T Bjorn (Den). Winner to play (4) M O'Meara (US). 0915 and 1330 (6) L Westwood (GB) v S Appleby (Aus). Winner to play (3) E Els (SA). 0930 and 1345 (7) D Clarke (GB) v I Woosnam (GB). Winner to play (2) T Woods (US).
Numbers in brackets indicate
Latest in Sport
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
McDowell did brilliantly to land the World Match Play title in Bulgaria last week, but it’s a format...
by Gareth Purnell
23 May 2013 09:13 AM
David Moyes delighted after Rio Ferdinand agrees to stay at Manchester United with new one-year contract
Sergio Garcia / Tiger Woods 'fried chicken' racism row takes fresh twist after 'coloured athletes' comment
After racist remark, Sergio Garcia fights for reputation as Tiger Woods slams 'hurtful' fried chicken joke
New Manchester City manager must deliver five trophies in five years
Manchester United slash interest bill by £10m a year
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.