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Montomerie to play mre in US in 2003

Colin Montgomerie hopes to improve his performances in the majors next year by playing more events on the US Tour and getting the 2003 season off to a faster start than he managed this year.

The Scot plans to be California dreamin’ after pencilling in both the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, near San Diego, and the Nissan Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, as his starting point for the year before teeing up at the Accenture Matchplay Championship at La Costa in nearby Carlsbad.

Although his manager, Guy Kinnings, insisted yesterday there was no question of the Troon man joining the US Tour on a full-time basis - he will play just as often in Europe - the Scot will add on those extra events in California and almost certainly enter Bay Hill, the Players Championship and the BellSouth Classic before the Masters in April.

With all four World Championship events scheduled for American courses in 2003, as well as the three US majors, all of Europe’s leading players are due to play more often in the States next season.

Monty, coincidentally, is preparing for one of his busiest seasons in the US, after he threatened never to play in this part of the world again as a reaction to being heckled during his first-round match at La Costa.

Over the past six months, however, the Scot has encountered little apart from cordiality in this part of the world. There were no problems with the galleries at either the Masters or the USPGA, and the "Be Nice To Monty" campaign at the US Open was also a success.

While the crowds here appear to have made their peace with Monty, the 39-year-old knows he needs to improve his performances in the American majors and the money-spinning world championship events. There’s a chance to step up to the mark at Sahalee this week when the $5million NEC starts in Seattle on Thursday.

This year, the Scot was unusually slow out of the blocks. He was forced to withdraw from the Johnnie Walker in Australia because of back trouble, went out of the Match Play in the first round and missed the cut in Dubai.

With his 40th birthday looming next summer, Montgomerie is aware the clock is ticking on his career and hopes a fresh look at his schedule will pay dividends in 2003.

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