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Montgomerie splits with long time caddie

Colin Montgomerie has split from Alastair McLean, the caddie who was at his side as he won seven successive European Order of Merits and more than £12 million.

The parting of the ways followed last week's French Open, where the Scot opened with a 67 but finished no higher than in a share of 23rd place.

Yesterday, as he practised at The Belfry for this week's Benson and Hedges International Open, Montgomerie was quick to say that he and his caddie of 10 years are still on good terms. "We were the best team the European Tour has known. Alastair has been excellent but there comes a time when you have to look at other options," he said.

"Splitting was not the easiest. It was difficult to raise the subject because we have been close on and off the course. But we ended up wishing each other all the best and I am sure we will meet up for dinner from time to time."

It is as a friend and confidant that Montgomerie will probably miss his loyal caddie most. When, for example, the Scot was going through marriage problems at the 2000 St Andrews Open, McLean spent more time listening than advising on club selection.

As wise a member of the caddying fraternity as Dave Musgrove, who used to work for Sandy Lyle, said yesterday that the parting of the ways could be a good move for Montgomerie, whose last Tour victory came in the 2001 Volvo Scandinavian Masters.

"This is the time when players can win," Musgrove said. By way of illustrating his point, he recalled how when McLean was off with a bad back in 2000, Montgomerie promptly won the French Open with Pete Coleman, Bernhard Langer's regular bag-carrier. Not too long afterwards, he won the Volvo PGA Championship with Andy Prodger, who is currently working for Philip Price.

Musgrove added that things could work both ways and that McLean, who is not here this week, was as likely to win with a new golfer as Montgomerie was with a different caddie.

Montgomerie, meantime, has come to a temporary arrangement with a South African caddie, Jason Henning, as the latter's usual employer, Robert Karlsson, has a week off.

Henning will find Montgomerie a very different individual to his Swede. Where Karlsson used to grow wheat shoots in his hotel basin by way of ensuring that he would have a healthy breakfast at the ready, Montgomerie prefers to tuck into rolls and sausages at the Caddieshack restaurant.

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