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Fitness boost for Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie has decided he is fit enough to play in this week's Linde German Masters.

Not having struck a ball in competition since withdrawing from the NEC world championship in Seattle after 27 holes on August 23, Montgomerie waited until yesterday before deciding that his back is strong enough again for him to return.

It will be welcome news for Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance with the match against the Americans at The Belfry now only 17 days away.

Padraig Harrington plays in Cologne as well after being bothered by neck and ankle injuries since the end of July.

The pair are also in the field for next week's American Express world championship at Mount Juliet in Ireland and so have two tournaments to try to prove to themselves and Torrance that they will be able to play all five cup games if asked to.

Montgomerie has been troubled by his back on and off all year - a year in which he has yet to win - and was described by former cup captain Seve Ballesteros on Saturday as "a very important player" as Europe try to win back the trophy.

Torrance still has some form worries, most notably over Lee Westwood, Jesper Parnevik, Paul McGinley and Phillip Price, and will be watching the return of Montgomerie and Harrington with keen interest as he finalises his thoughts on who partners whom in the fourballs and foursomes on the first two days.

Former Ryder Cup man Paul Lawrie might not have been happy with his finish in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland on Sunday, but it still earned him a place in next week's American Express world championship in Ireland.

Lawrie has moved up from 57th to 48th in the world rankings on the day the top 50 all guarantee themselves places in the £3.5m tournament at Mount Juliet.

The former Open champion finished joint second behind Robert Karlsson, but had three bogeys in the last five holes.

Lawrie also moves up from 16th to 11th on the European order of merit and after this week's Linde German Masters in Cologne anyone in the top 20 who is not in the world's top 50 will be added to the world championship field.

Seven of the 24 players in Ryder Cup action in a fortnight are not qualified - Europeans Jesper Parnevik (57th in the world), Paul McGinley (67th), Pierre Fulke (93rd), Phillip Price (114th) and Lee Westwood (133rd) and Americans Stewart Cink (54th) and Hal Sutton (115th).


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