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Golf News: - Posted 4th January 1998

Montgomerie beats Love to win Andersen Consulting

Scottsdale, Arizona - Colin Montgomerie held off PGA Championship winner Davis Love III of the United States today to win the $3.65 million Andersen ConsultingWorld Championship of Golf at the Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course.

Montgomerie, who won the 1997 money title on the PGA European Tour for the fifth consecutive year, defeated Love, 2 up, to claim the $1 million first prize, matching the biggest payday of Montgomerie's career. He won the 1996 Nedbank Million Dollar Challenge in South Africa.

"Golf is a game that it really isn't over until it's over and that's the beauty of it," Montgomerie said. "Even at 4 up, I knew it wasn't over and I started thinking too much and Davis came back strong."

Montgomerie was 4 up after 32 holes, but Love birdied the short par-4 33rd hole and the par-3 34th to close the gap to 2 up. Montgomerie then bogeyed the par-4 35th to take a 1-up lead into the par-5 36th. On the final hole, Montgomerie knocked his 3-iron second shot from 223 yards about 10 feet from the cup. Love's second shot ended up 60 feet away, and after he ran his long eagle putt past the hole and off the green, he conceded the hole and the match to Montgomerie.

"I've made better shots and closer ones, but in the realm of pressure, that ranks up there as one of my best,'' Montgomerie said about his 3-iron second shot on the final hole . "I'd have been delighted with that shot in a practice round."

Love, who finished third on the 1997 PGA Tour money list, earned $500,000 as runner-up.

"It's hard to make an eagle. If Colin had my shot on the 18th, it might have been a different story," Love said. "At least I made him work for it. I didn't want to get beat, but I certainly didn't want to get beat 4 down."

U.S. Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa, who lost to Montgomerie in Saturday's semifinals, made an eagle and four birdies today to down Japan's Hajime Meshiai, 4 and 3, to win the consolation match and $350,000. The 43-year-old Meshiai earned $300,000. (Unlike the championship match, the consolation match was only scheduled for 18 holes.)

After the morning round, Montgomerie led Love 1 up on the strength of a birdie on 18, where he came out of a bunker to within inches of the hole for his fifth birdie. Love, who made three bogeys in the morning round, drew even with an eagle on the 22nd hole, the par-5 fourth.

However, Montgomerie went 2 up when rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the 25th hole and a 15-footer for par on the 27th. Love's 5-foot birdie try lipped out the 25th, and the American made a bogey on par-4 27th after his tee shot resulted in an unplayable lie.

Love halved his deficit by making a 7-foot birdie putt to win the 28th hole, but Montgomerie took control on the next hole, recovering from a flubbed bunker shot to make a 12-foot downhill putt for birdie. The Scot went 3 up on the 30th hole, pitching his second shot 20 inches from the cup for his ninth birdie of the day. Love fell 4 down after a bogey-5 on No. 32, his sixth of the day.

"Colin got a good run on me and got me so far behind I couldn't really come back," Love said. "I didn't drive it well all day. I was lucky to make a little comeback at the end."

This weekend's competition capped a year-long, single-elimination tournament featuring 32 players divided into four groups: United States, European, Japanese and International. Montgomerie won the European group in May, Love the U.S. group in April, Meshiai the Japanese group in March, and Els the International group in July.

Starting next year, this tournament will be played in February at La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif., as part of the four-event World Golf Championships. The renamed Andersen Consulting Match Play will feature a 64-man field based on the Official World Golf Rankings.

The Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course is a par-72 layout that measures 7,108 yards