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Campbell says Montgomerie still man to beat

Two-time tour winner Michael Campbell has returned from a 10-week break to renew his bid for the European order of merit title and the New Zealander is in no doubt who he has to beat to do so.

Speaking ahead of the French Open, which begins on Thursday, Campbell, who has had four wins altogether in four months, said: "Colin Montgomerie may not be on top at the moment but he is always up there and I admire his will to win.

"He has that winning attitude and intensity. You have to have it. I found it for my four wins. I had goose bumps every time I holed the winning putt.

"Every time he makes a mistake he goes a little bit overboard but it's not a flaw, just the way he is. And if there's something wrong with a part of his game, he wants to fix it. That's the sign of a world-class player."

Campbell currently lies third in the rankings, 500,000 dollars behind leader Darren Clarke, who is not competing in Paris.

But Montgomerie is only 23rd, 750,000 dollars adrift of top place.

Montgomerie will be Campbell's target this week, while the Scot is looking for his first win of the year to kick-start his season.

Despite finishing only fifth in the Spanish Open on Monday, Montgomerie often looked close to his best - except when putting.

He might struggle at Le National course venue because the greens have been hit by disease and poor weather and several of them are threadbare, leading to the players being warned before travelling to Paris.

"I welcomed the warning because it's better than saying nothing and then turning up and finding out about them," said the Scot.

"It's better to be pessimistic beforehand than optimistic. I've had no chance to work on my putting because of the quick turnaround.

"The way I struck the ball last week I should have won. Peter Coleman (his stand-in caddie borrowed from the absent Bernhard Langer) is great on lines and I have hit the ball on those lines.

"I don't enter tournaments to finish fifth any more."

Montgomerie flew in by private jet and, after speaking of his wonder at fellow-Scot David Coulthard's narrow escape on Tuesday, revealed he now no longer used a similar Lear Jet to the one the racing driver was flying in.

He decided not to after the death of Payne Stewart last year in a Lear jet.

South African Retief Goosen defends the title he won in Bordeaux, hoping to go better than his three top threes in early season.

Frenchman Jean Van de Velde, playing in his national open for the first time in two years, was still fielding questions about his Carnoustie collapse, and also made a revelation.

"It came to me in a flash of light yesterday," said the British Open runner-up. "When I stood on the 13th tee at Carnoustie I should have told myself 'make six pars and you win."

"That's ocurred to me to about 10 months too late!"


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