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Golf News: - Posted 3rd November 1997

Montgomerie to stay in Europe

Houston, Texas. - After a great deal of speculation, Colin Montgomerie has announced that next year he will divide his time between the USPGA Tour and the PGA European Tour.

In a statement released early today, Montgomerie, who won a record fifth consecutive PGA European Tour Order of Merit title, said he didn't want to leave Europe full-time and commit himself to the USPGA Tour although he will still be playing more there and less in Europe..

"I have decided for several reasons to maintain my current European playing status for 1998," Montgomerie said in a prepared statement.

"I have always said that I do not believe that it is possible from a personal and professional standpoint to take European and US playing rights at the same time and for that reason I have decided not to take up my US Tour card for 1998.

"I am delighted to have won five consecutive European Tour Volvo Ranking titles. This having been achieved, I shall now play a considerably reduced schedule in Europe whilst keeping it as my 'home tour'.

"I have clear priorities both professionally and personally and my future schedule will be carefully worked around those European, US and other worldwide events which will best help me in achieving my goals.

"I look forward to playing an extended schedule in the US, which I know will assist me in my professional aspirations.

"There are two paramount factors in my decision. The first, as it always has and always will be, is that my family comes before anything else and the schedule I am choosing will work for all of us.

"Secondly, the European Tour has been very good for me and I hope I have repaid it a little.

"Therefore, with what I have achieved personally in recent years and with what we as a Tour have achieved, in particular with our Ryder Cup victories at Valderrama and at Oak Hill, it is essential that we build on this success.

"There are lessons to be learned, but we have undeniable talent in Europe and it is inconceivable that I should choose to leave at this crucial stage.

"The game of golf is now truly global and I believe one's choice of 'home base' does not affect one's ability to compete at the highest standard, which I look forward to doing in the coming years."

Montgomerie, who has daughters aged four and one and another on the way next May, played only five events in America this season aside from the three major championships there and is likely to go up to around eight.

Montgomerie's manager, Guy Kinnings, said: "Colin still has to finalise his schedule, but he will basically be cherry picking the tournaments that best suit him.

"He plans the same run of American events leading upto the Masters in April, but he will be beefing up his US schedule later in the season."

Montgomerie's 1998 begins with the Andersen Consulting world championship in Phoenix on 4th - 5th January - he has a chance to win a million dollars there - and he is then likely to take a long rest before making his first European tour appearance of the season in the Dubai Desert Classic on 26th February -1st March.

After that he will embark on the 'Florida swing' in preparation for the first major of the season at Augusta.

Montgomerie managed to finish 37th on the US Tour this year despite only eight appearances there - his $578,991 were nearly $150,000 more than 58th-placed Nick Faldo managed from 14 events.

But what made many people believe he would switch his main focus to America was his burning ambition to land a first major.

He lost plays-offs in the 1994 US Open and 1995 US PGA championships and this June bogeyed the penultimate hole to lose the US Open to South African Ernie Els again by a single shot.

Els, a former European tour member himself, was among those who voiced the opinion recently that Montgomerie could benefit from a move across the Atlantic.

But New Zealander Frank Nobilo, another to have headed west, made the point that Montgomerie's success in Europe gives him supreme confidence when it comes to the majors and he would be putting that at risk by moving.

Montgomerie knows too that come 1999 there is the start of a world championship series of events involving all the world's top players.

They will help him to compete on a more regular basis with Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Els and the rest and that is what he believes he needs to take the next step.


Montgomerie's Press Statement:

"I have decided for several reasons, to maintain my current European playing status for 1998. I have always said that I do not believe that it is possible from a personal and professional stand point to take European and U.S. playing rights at the same time and for that reason I have decided not to take up my U.S. Tour card for 1998.

I am delighted to have won five consecutive European Tour Volvo Ranking titles. This having been achieved, I shall now play a considerably reduced schedule in Europe whilst keeping it as my ‘Home Tour’.

I have very clear priorities both professionally and personally and my future schedule will be carefully worked around those European, U.S. and other worldwide events which will best help me in achieving my goals. I look forward to playing an extended schedule in the U.S. which I know will assist me in my professional aspirations.

There are two paramount factors in my decision. The first, as it always has and always will be, is that my family comes before anything else and the schedule I am choosing will work for all of us. Secondly, the European Tour has been very good for me and I hope I have repaid it a little. Therefore, with what I have achieved personally in recent years and with what we as a Tour have achieved, in particular with our Ryder Cup victories at Valderrama and at Oak Hill, it is essential that we build on this success.

There are lessons to be learned but we have undeniable talent in Europe and it is inconceivable that I should choose to leave at this crucial stage. The game of golf is now truly global and I believe one’s choice of ‘home base’ does not affect one’s ability to compete at the highest standard which I look forward to doing in the coming years."