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Colin Montgomerie prefers new Match Play format

Colin Montgomerie is a fan of the relatively new format being used in the World Match Play Championship and believes it will help his title challenge at Wentworth.

The 42-year-old Scot says the change made last year to boost the size of the first-round field from 12 to 16 players was one he had always campaigned for.

"I am glad this is the first time I've played in the Match Play since the conditions changed to 16 in the field," said Montgomerie, who faces Australia's Mark Hensby in a 36-hole first-round encounter on Thursday.

"I was always hoping for that to happen. I was always against the fact that it was 12. The only time I won the tournament was 1999 and I was a seeded player and it felt sort of, it wasn't quite right," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"I had won three games and the person I played in the final (Mark O'Meara) had won three games and they gave me a trophy. So it was slightly in favour of the seeded players."

It used to be the case that the seeded players had to wait until Friday for their first match.

"As you will see tomorrow, anybody in any game is capable of beating anyone else," added Montgomerie. "They are all going to be quite close games I feel.

"The standard between number 10 in the world and number 40 is one shot. And one shot over a tournament, never mind just over 36 holes."

Montgomerie, the only previous winner competing here this week, said the new system was fairer for all the players.

"It's still seeded but everybody has a go, just like tennis I suppose," said the seven-times former winner of the European order of merit.

"(Roger) Federer has to play in the first round. He might win the first round but he still has to play in it and I think it's only fair that's the case."

Even though only one member of the world's top 12, South African Retief Goosen, is playing here this week, Montgomerie said he would never turn down the chance to compete at Wentworth.

"You know, I'll always be here," he said. "I have never got to that stage in my life.

"This is wonderful, especially match play. I love this tournament. I love being here."


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