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Colin Montgomerie looking for changed fortunes

Scotsman Colin Montgomerie is hoping for a change in fortune when he tees off at the US$1.8 million BMW Asian Open tomorrow.

Montgomerie, an eight-time European Order of Merit champion, has been plagued with poor putting over the past month but he hopes that Asia will be the turning point of his game, starting at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club this week.

Sharing a similar sentiment is Thai ace Thongchai Jaidee, who is fresh from his US Masters debut two weeks ago and eager to get underway. Last week's winner Jeev Milkha Singh of India, who leads the Asian Tour’s UBS Order of Merit, is also looking for another title charge.

“I’ve just had a bad run with the putter," lamented Montgomerie, who is better known as Monty. "Augusta was very disappointing with the putter again for the 14th year in a row but never mind, we’ll get going here and see what’s what, providing it is not as windy as this."

He remained unfazed by his dip in form where he has missed the cut in his last five events, three of which were in United States. “I don’t get affected by good play or bad play really. It doesn’t affect me any more, I’ve been through everything so it doesn’t affect me at all,” he said.

Despite a disappointing performance at Augusta National where he missed the halfway cut, Montgomerie has taken a positive approach to challenge some of the top players from Asia and Europe at the BMW Asian Open.

“Augusta was disappointing. I hit 17 greens on the second day and shot a 75, you can’t compete doing that I’m afraid. You spend a lot of time in America, a month there and don’t make the cut in three tournaments and that is disappointing.

"Sometimes it is a blessing in disguise because it forces you to change something. You don’t go around finishing in 30th place every week because that is no good for anybody either. So sometimes it is a blessing in disguise which I think on this occasion, it was,” he said.

Thongchai, a two-time Order of Merit winner in Asia, is well rested for his charge for the BMW Asian Open title. “I had a week off last week. I headed back to Thailand and improved on my overall game. I have been hitting solid drives and my putts are good.

“The conditions here look good. The par four holes are long and par three holes are very challenging. Last year I missed the cut by a single stroke but this year a lot has changed. The fairways are narrower and longer and the wind is much stronger than last year. For

example at the par four fourth hole today, I used a driver, followed by a three wood in my second shot which just shows how windy it is out there,” he said.

The invaluable experience gained from the Masters has also helped the Thai polish his putting skills prior to China. “I have also been improving on my putting and chipping last week. I hit it good at the Masters but realised that I needed to improve on my putts. I definitely learnt a lot while I was there,” said Thongchai.

The excitement continues for Singh who ended his seven-year winless run in Beijing last week. “The course is in fantastic condition. The greens are in great shape and the fairways are good. I love this course because for the last two years I’ve played here, I finished in the top 10 so I’m definitely looking forward to a great week,” said Singh, who finished tied 10th in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson, Englishman Paul Casey, a two-time winner in China, compatriot Nick Faldo and Chinese stalwarts Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong are also among strong title contenders eyeing the US$300,000 top prize.

This is the third straight year the BMW Asian Open is being played at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club where the event is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

On the eve of the tournament, 156 guests, including movie star Sammo Hung and acclaimed pianist Zhao Yinyin, took part in the BMW Asian Open Pro-am. Over the four days, spectators can look forward to a trick golf show daily at 1:30pm by Noel Hunt, the Emirates Hole in One Challenge, the UBS Game Improvement Zone and much more at the Public Village.

 




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