Woods remains the man to beat
Wednesday 14 October 1998
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
Chelsea vs Manchester United: Jose Mourinho dismisses United injury worries, saying 'they have an amazing squad'
Aaron Hernandez: American Football in the dock as NFL star player's murderous double life is revealed
Chelsea vs Manchester United: Why Blues are the least popular team in the league
Chelsea vs Manchester United combined XI: Thibaut Courtois or David De Gea? Juan Mata or Willian? Who makes our team?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Where are the tickets for the fight?
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
General Election 2015: Polish prince challenges Nigel Farage to a duel over immigration question
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...