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Montgomerie amongst BellSouth withdrawals

Britain's out-of-form Colin Montgomerie and Swede Henrik Stenson are among 15 late withdrawals for this week's BellSouth Classic at the TPC at Sugarloaf.

Eight-times European number one Montgomerie pulled out after missing the cut in his last four strokeplay events, a PGA Tour media official said on Tuesday.

The big-hitting Stenson, who lies second in the 2006 European Tour order of merit, gave no reason for his absence.

American Ben Crane, the 2003 BellSouth champion, was also among those who decided to skip the event.

"Montgomerie's manager said he needs to practise on his own, rather than in a tournament, to try to get his game into shape for Augusta," the PGA Tour official told Reuters.

"Most of the others who pulled out today were because guys were making last-minute changes to their schedules ahead of the Masters."

The U.S. Masters, the first of the year's four majors, takes place at Augusta National from April 6-9.

Montgomerie, 42, has failed to make the cut in three of his last four appearances at Augusta.

Last April he missed out on the Masters for the first time since 1991 after dropping out of the top 50 in the world rankings.

Although he produced vintage form for much of last year, winning the Dunhill Links Championship in October and the Hong Kong Open in December, he has failed to spark this season.

His missed cut at last week's Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida followed early exits from the Dubai Desert Classic, the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia and the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando, Florida.

Despite the wave of late withdrawals, the BellSouth Classic has attracted four of the world's top 10.

Fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson will defend the title he won in a five-way playoff last year, and is joined by 2002 winner Retief Goosen (the world number three), David Toms (eighth) and Britain's Luke Donald (10th).

March 29, 2006

 




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