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Montgomerie in need of high finish in China

Former winner Colin Montgomerie goes into this week's TCL Classic at Yalong Bay Golf Club on Hainan Island with the U.S. PGA Tour uppermost in his mind.

The 41-year-old Briton needs to finish no worse than second in China to return to the world's top 50 and book a place in the field for next week's prestigious Players' Championship (TPC) at Sawgrass, Florida.

"My first goal is the TPC," Montgomerie, world-ranked 54, told reporters at this month's Dubai Desert Classic where he finished fourth.

"I've got two tournaments to get into the top 50, and that means at least winning the next one or two," added the Scot, who also needs a top-50 ranking by March 28 to gain entry into next month's U.S. Masters.

Should the seven-times European number one fail in his top-50 bid this week, he will play in the European Tour-sanctioned Indonesian Open next week.

Victory by Montgomerie in China would effectively secure his spot in the top 50, world rankings organiser Ian Barker of Official World Golf Ranking told Reuters on Tuesday.

"A win would virtually seal Monty's place, leaving him with a very good chance of retaining it the following week," said Barker.

"Outright second place in China would give him a 50-50 chance of finishing in the top 50 while he would have an outside chance of sneaking into the top 50 if he shared second place with one player."

Montgomerie is in confident mood for this week's event, one of five being played in China on the 2005 European Tour, after finishing no worse than tied for 11th in his first three starts of the year.

"And I was third in Tiger's event (the Target World Challenge) before Christmas," the Scot added.

"The last four events have been super and I now go to the TCL to try to get some more points.

"I began with an eight at the start of the year so we are getting there. I'm hitting the ball great. I've just got to hole more putts."

Montgomerie, who won the inaugural TCL Classic at Harbour Plaza Golf Club, Shenzhen in 2002 when the event was sanctioned solely by the Asian Tour, faces a strong field at Yalong Bay Golf Club.

Fellow Ryder Cup players Paul Casey and Paul McGinley are also competing, along with Europe's 2006 Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn and Britons Paul Broadhurst and Andrew Coltart.

The venue has staged the Asian Tour's Sanya Open for the last two years. In 2004, Australian Terry Pilkadaris won in a playoff with American Clay Devers after the pair finished regulation play at 18-under-par 270.

 

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