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Montgomerie looking forward to US Open

Colin Montgomerie once again looks Europe's best bet to win the US Open next week. But the 38-year-old Scot has a theory on why no European has lifted the title since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

"Every week we play in Europe the greens are a different pace," said Montgomerie after his fourth-place finish in the British Masters at Woburn.

"Last week they were quick, Germany (the greens in the Deutsche Bank Open in Heidelberg) were slow and it is difficult to judge pace week-in week-out. And of course the US Open will be quick, so you have to change. There's a reason we haven't won the thing for 30-odd years."

Despite his back problems, Montgomerie has come third, second, second again and fourth in the last four weeks for a combined 56 under par and will head for New York next Sunday in second place on the Order of Merit.

"I didn't really putt that well this week, but I'm hitting the ball great off the tee and the irons are fine," he said. "It's been a very good month and I wouldn't have any more confidence if I was top of the money list.

"Some weeks the putting works, some it doesn't, but the main thing is that I'm hitting fairways and greens and that's what I used to do.

"My career was never based on the amount of putts I holed. The success was always on the amount of fairways I hit."

Montgomerie lost a play-off for the US Open in 1994 and was second again in 1997. Ernie Els won both times. He was also third on his debut in 1992.

The event in Washington five years ago was the one in which heckling started to become a serious problem for him in the United States.

The American magazine Golf Digest has come up with the idea of "Be Nice To Monty" badges for next week - and of the 25,000 made, Montgomerie himself has 25.

His new caddie Andy Prodger was wearing one yesterday and the player said: "He will have one either side of his hat next week. I think it's quite fun."

Bethpage is a public course on Long Island often used by the emergency services involved in the September 11th atrocities last year.

Perhaps the closeness to that tragedy will put things into perspective for potential hecklers. And the location is one that Montgomerie believes could change Europe's luck in the championship.

"It's an advantage to us that the Americans don't know the course either. But I know what I've got to do," he declared.

"Got to hit the fairways and got to hit the greens. Standard issue."

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