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Montgomerie leads European challenge

Europe's finest are tipping Scotland's Colin Montgomerie to finally rid himself of the tag of being the best European golfer never to have won a major.

Even the burly Scot admits to having a quiet confidence coming into the 85th PGA Championship at Oak Hill — a course with sweet memories for him.

Montgomerie was on the victorious Ryder Cup team that surprised the American squad at the course eight years ago.

"It's always nice to come back to a course you've done well on," said the 40-year-old, recovered now from the wrist injury suffered in a breakfast-time stumble at his hotel that forced him to pull out of last month's British Open after only eight holes.

"As soon as I heard Oak Hill had been chosen for this I was looking forward to it. They've lengthened it since and with all the rough it's a tight examination," he added.

Last week, Montgomerie finished second in the Nordic Open, a result that boosted his confidence as he strives to get back to the form that allowed him to win the European Order of Merit for a record-breaking seven straight times.

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, having shrugged off his heartache at the British Open when he threw away the title to end up second to little-known Ben Curtis, said he has a sneaking suspicion Montgomerie could win this week.

"I see Monty coming back into form. I see him with a chance of going close," said Bjorn.

Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer of Germany agrees.

"I would not be surprised at all to see him in contention here," Langer said.

"You don't get to be number one in Europe for seven straight years unless you're a great player and, straight hitter that he is, any set-up with there's lots of rough and makes it so important to hit the fairways should suit him."

But the 40-year-old Montgomerie will face a stiff challenge from Europe's young turks, out to prove themselves against one of the toughest fields of the year.

Justin Rose, playing in his first US Open this year, finished a credible fifth.

The 23-year-old Englishman made his PGA Championship debut last season and tied for 23rd.

Paul Casey, winner of the Benson and Hedges in May, is another out to announce his arrival at a major.

The 26-year-old has set himself the target of winning at least one major title in the next four years.

Ian Poulter arrived brimming with confidence after collecting his second win of the year when he took the Nordic Open, finishing one shot clear of Montgomerie.

"Suddenly the trip to the States was a lot more fun," said the 27-year-old Poulter.

But with the last European-born player to win the PGA Championship being Tommy Armour in 1930, signs are not good for Monty and the young guns.


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