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Colin Montgomerie has edge in Order of Merit race

Britain's Colin Montgomerie is in confident mood for the last three weeks of the season as he eyes a record eighth European Tour order of merit crown.

The 42-year-old Scot replaced U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell at the top of the money list after tying for third at the WGC-American Express Championship in San Francisco on Sunday.

"I had a goal at the start of the week," Montgomerie told reporters after a closing level-par 70 at the Harding Park Golf Course earned him a cheque for $353,666.

"I had to try and overtake Michael Campbell and also get some more Ryder Cup points, which I achieved. There's over a million euro already on the Ryder Cup list, so we should be okay."

Montgomerie, Europe's number one for seven years in a row from 1993, lifted his European Tour earnings for the season to 2,565,089 euros ($3.12 million) -- more than 131,000 euros ahead of second-placed Campbell.

Only two more events remain before the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama in Spain -- this week's Madrid Open and next week's Mallorca Open.

Although the battle for the order of merit title cannot be decided until Valderrama, Montgomerie has a slight advantage in that New Zealander Campbell is not back in action until the season finale.

"Michael is not playing the next two weeks and I am in Madrid," he said. "I also feel that I've got somehow a little bit of an advantage at Valderrama.

"I know the place very well, and I'm playing well. It's just a matter of keeping going."

Although Montgomerie failed in his bid to clinch a maiden PGA Tour title last week after leading the WGC event for the first two rounds, he has displayed sparkling late-season form.

Opening rounds of 64 and 69 in San Francisco followed his one-shot victory in the lucrative Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews the previous week, his first win in 19 months.

"I'm playing okay and I'm putting okay," he added. "But I'm tired now, very. I came to San Francisco to try and do a few things, and I achieved them.

"I'm coming away very positive and can take it on into Madrid."

The Madrid Open starts at the Club de Campo on Thursday.

October 11, 2005

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