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Colin Montgomerie hoping for a big week

Colin Montgomerie returns to St Andrews, scene of his battle with Tiger Woods at this year's British Open, looking for a "big week" to make his mark on the European money-list and Europe's Ryder Cup table.

The Dunhill Links Championship, played at the St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kings Barns courses, with a field of celebrities taking part alongside the professionals, offers an $800,000 first prize and 662,415 Ryder Cup points for first place.

Montgomerie is fourth on the money-list, with the top three -- Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen and Angel Cabrera -- absent this week.

Although he cannot go top, the Scot can take a big stride towards an eighth order of merit with the right result.

However, moving up the European Ryder Cup table is his first concern, he said on Wednesday the day before the event starts.

"This is a big opportunity for me for the order of merit and also Ryder Cup points," said Montgomerie.

"I am down in 18th spot in the Ryder Cup table, so I have to get my act together and get in the team.

"There is competition. There were 20 guys last week in the Seve Trophy who are fighting for places and besides them you have to think of Luke Donald, Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Bernhard Langer even.

"It won't be easy to get into the team but it shouldn't be. If it were we'd lose."

Montgomerie, who partners actor Michael Douglas this week, wants to better his second place behind Woods in the British Open, but added: "What's good about second is it beats third.

"I beat everybody apart from the best player of our generation, possibly the best player to pick up a club."

His compatriot Stephen Gallacher, the last Scot to win on the European Tour, is the defending champion and Montgomerie is anxious for more Scots to enter the world's top 100.

As the only one in the top echelon, Montgomerie put Scotland's place in the November World Cup in doubt when he decided not to play, briefly taking his country out of an automatic exemption spot.

Only withdrawals by players from other countries in the top 100 enabled Gallacher and Scott Drummond to be given a place at the event in Portugal.

"I am the only one (Scot) in the top 100 and that is not good enough," said Montgomerie.

Gallacher, troubled by a long-running back injury, responded by saying: "I've said that my goal for the year was to be in the top 50, so it's not due to lack of effort.

"Because of my back I'm only about 80 percent fit right now but I know what I'm capable of when I'm 100 percent."

The strong contenders at this week's event include former European number one Lee Westwood, who won in 2003, Padraig Harrington, the 2002 winner, Darren Clarke, 2004 runner-up Graeme McDowell, who shot a 62 at St Andrews, and David Howell.


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