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Praise from Montgomerie for Americans that travel

Colin Montgomerie praised America's Tiger Woods yesterday for making the effort to come to Spain while many of his fat-cat compatriots stay at home.

Phil Mickelson became the latest in a long list of absentees for the American Express Championship when he beat Woods in the Tour Championship on Sunday and opted not to cross the Atlantic.

But top-draw Woods will be at Valderrama and nobody could be happier than Montgomerie, even though it restricts his chances of winning an eighth straight European Order of Merit title.

"All credit to Tiger, he does travel and he's the one who would kill it off if he didn't," said Montgomerie who must win this week to prevent current leader Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Thomas Bjorn or Michael Campbell claiming the Harry Vardon Trophy.

The Scot added: "In the next month he's on four different continents, so I can't blame him for not being in Melbourne at the start of the year because you can't do everything."

It's a mixed blessing for Tiger Woods to be playing at Valderrama. Montgomerie has to win to retain his order of merit title. Allsport.

Alongside Mickelson, who played badly here last year, Americans Davis Love, David Duval, Stewart Cink, Notah Begay, Loren Roberts, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton, Paul Azinger, John Huston and Fred Couples cannot be bothered to make the trip, while Jim Furyk is injured. Australian Greg Norman is also skipping the event.

"After a long year, having to travel to Spain for a minimum of £15,000 when they've just played for a minimum of £90,000, I suppose you can understand it," said Montgomerie. (Note: Last place was actually US$80,000, awarded to Jim Furyk who didn't even play !)


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