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Faldo predicts new order in European golf

Nick Faldo believes the emergence of Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn as the leading Order of Merit golfers is great news for the future of the European Tour.

Faldo, twice winner of the Order of Merit and also three times runner-up, has returned to competition in today's German Masters in Cologne after spending part of last week working with coach Mitchell Spearman.

But, while the six-time major winner is chasing a first Tour win in six years and another haul of Ryder Cup points to add to his sixth place in Switzerland and 12th in the Lancome Trophy, he is also predicting a new winner of the European crown this season.

"All those guys - Lee, Darren and Thomas - are playing very well and they are all ready to finally get past Monty," said Faldo. That's been their goal all year, and now they look likely to achieve that.

"Realistically, Monty could still win the Order of Merit. But the way all three are playing it makes exciting stuff for the tour. You have a good little group there."

Victory this week for Westwood would match a tour record of six wins in a season shared by Faldo, Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros. Faldo joked: "He has to win seven to be really impressive. It's easy to equal someone's record. I equalled one of Jack's Nicklaus records.

Nick Faldo is full of hope for golf in Europe.Allsport.

Montgomerie tees up in the German event with his eyes on clinching an eighth straight European title now precariously weak.

The struggling Scot, with recent results of missed cut, 46th and 26th, has fallen £518,427 behind Lee Westwood, after the Worksop player clinched last week's Belgacom Open title - his fifth European Tour win of the year and a sixth victory of the season.

Westwood is £42,437 ahead of second-placed Clarke and likely to handsomely extend the margin, with the Ulsterman not appearing in Germany after wife Heather gave birth yesterday to their second child.

Westwood will also contest the Italian Open, being held the week before the Volvo Masters, and the season-closing American Express World Championship event - a surprise move because neither Clarke, Ernie Els, Bjorn nor Montgomerie is entered for the Sardinia event.

"I haven't won the Italian Open, and it will get me warmed up for the big ones at Montecastillo and Valerrama," said Westwood.


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