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Montgomerie loses club endorsement deal

Colin Montgomerie, whose form has taken a dip this year, has suffered another blow with the loss of his contract to play Hogan clubs and balls.

The Scot who was No.1 in Europe for seven years in a row from 1993 but is currently at No.32 without a tournament victory this season, left his previous backers Callaway after last year's Ryder Cup.

In an unforeseen sequence of events, however, he found himself back under the control of Callaway last Thursday when the company took over the bankrupt Top-Flite organisation of which Hogan is a subsidiary.

A spokesman for Callaway in the US told The Herald yesterday: "The decision was taken not to pick up Colin Montgomerie's contract, the reason being that he has been with Hogan for so short a time that he has not been able to establish himself in the minds of consumers as a brand player."

Even though Callaway have made it clear he is welcome to continue to play Hogan clubs and to use their facilities on tour but not to display an endorsement, the position will be particularly hurtful to Montgomerie as Callaway have retained 40 of the 43 contracts with both Top-Flite and Hogan.

These include Europe's Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer and England's Luke Donald, who has been quick to establish himself on the US PGA Tour.

The only other ones dropped are DA Weibring, who plays on the senior Champions Tour, and his son Matt, a Nationwide Tour player.

Lawyers for Montgomerie's management company IMG were yesterday examining the position and there was no official comment.

In a further irony, the move comes at a time when fellow Scot and Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Lawrie has renewed his contract with Callaway having spent much of the season experimenting with other clubs and balls.

Montgomerie, who turned 40 in June, was yesterday in St Nom-la-Brétêche preparing for the Lancome Trophy which begins today, and the decision means that he will be looking for a new contract at a time when his stock is at its lowest for more than 10 years.

He is down to world No.32 which is the lowest since he joined the rankings in 1991 at No.36, and he has never been outside Europe's top 10 in that period.

This week's tournament is the first of a five-in-a-row stretch by Montgomerie who is in search of Ryder Cup points. He did not realise the special Ryder Cup world rankings list for European players started only at last week's European Masters in Switzerland, meaning everyone starts from scratch.

The list is currently jointly headed by Italian Emanuele Canonica, Swede Robert Karlsson and Scot Andrew Coltart after they finished tied fourth in Switzerland, the top three places all taken by non-Europeans. In fourth place is Essex's Robert Coles after his victory on the Challenge Tour last week.


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