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Open runner-up Colin Montgomerie and Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal will get a chance to step out of Tiger Woods's shadow when they tee off at The Players Championship of Europe on Thursday.

Montgomerie had to be satisfied with finishing five shots behind American Woods, who won his 10th major at the Open on Sunday at St Andrews.

While Montgomerie's career second-best finish at the British Open has encouraged the former seven-time European number one to believe he can again be a force in the game, Olazabal will be happy not to have to set his sights on Woods in Germany.

For a short time during the Open, Olazabal trailed playing-partner Woods by just a stroke but eventually had to settle for a tie for third with Fred Couples.

After his best result at the Open since 1992, and his best in a major since the second of his Masters titles in 1999, the 39-year-old Spaniard hopes he can add to his trophy cabinet.

"It was a step forward towards what I want to do with my game and I have a lot of confidence this week," said Olazabal, who has risen to 40th in the world rankings.

He believes it is up to players to go out and try to beat Woods, with whom he played three rounds last week, rather than be intimidated by the 29-year-old American.

"Nobody can expect to play well week after week but Tiger gets the nearest," Olazabal said.

"He's going to be tough to beat but we're trying to improve our games so every now and then we can go out and kick his ass."

Thankfully for his rivals, Woods has opted to skip the German event -- where he holds the record for most wins (1999, 2001-2002), consecutive wins and as the youngest champion.

In his absence, those hoping to enter the winner's circle include U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen, 1995 British Open winner John Daly and defending champion Trevor Immelman.

While Campbell will aim to strengthen his lead at the top of the European money-list with victory this week, Goosen, winner of the order of merit in 2001 and 2002, will have his sights on overtaking the New Zealander with a good result.

 

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