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Els & Montgomerie seek home advantage

Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie, who live on the Wentworth estate, are hoping to thrive on home comforts in this week's World Match Play Championship.

South African Els, aiming to extend his record number of victories in the event to seven, said: "I love sleeping in my own bed at a golf tournament.

"It makes a big change from sleeping in a hotel room and I have always enjoyed the course, especially in match play," he told reporters on Wednesday.

Montgomerie, the 1999 champion, said he always looked forward to playing at Wentworth.

"I spend less than 90 days a year at home and I very, very rarely can go home and relax the way I did last night," said the 43-year-old Briton. "It's lovely.

"I always feel driving in here, I feel one up somehow, and I look forward to feeling the same tomorrow."

Montgomerie launches his title challenge with a 36-hole match against David Howell and knows his fellow Briton will be a tough opponent.

"He putts very, very well and in match play, that's always a danger," said the Scot as he compared order of merit leader Howell to one of the game's great putters.

"I remember playing Ben Crenshaw in the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill. We had a very close game and I expect the same tomorrow. David's putting is his strength."

Montgomerie said it was less than ideal having to face Howell a week before they are in the same team at the K Club in Ireland.

"I would rather not have to play a Ryder Cup colleague in the first round and I'm sure he feels the same way," said the eight-times European number one.

"We would like as many Europeans to do as well as possible and it can give the team a lift for next week. I said yesterday if any of us has the opportunity to beat Tiger (Woods), that would give the whole team a lift as well."

Els, yet to claim a victory this year, takes on big-hitting Argentine Angel Cabrera in the opening round.

The genial South African said straight driving was the key to success on a West Course he recently helped redesign.

"You cannot just blast it anywhere," he said. "You have got to hit an accurate tee shot.

"If you miss shots now, you are going to be in bunkers and we have got the lips so high that you are going to have difficulty finding the green out of the bunkers."

The elite 16-man field are competing for the richest first prize in golf, one million pounds ($1.87 million).

September 14, 2006

 




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