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British on Tiger taming mission

Colin Montgomerie flies to Germany this week intent on showing Tiger Woods why he has become one of Britain's richest-ever sportsmen.

The 35-year-old Scot's three-stroke victory in the Benson and Hedges International Open on Sunday took his record European Tour career earnings through the £8million barrier.

Only three other golfers - Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo - have won over £5million, and while they have each been competing for approaching 25 years Montgomerie has achieved his massive fortune in just half that time.

His latest triumph was worth £133,335, but it was the style of it rather than what it was worth which gave the Ryder Cup star real satisfaction.

He had no hesitation ranking both the overall performance and the crucial shot among the best he has ever produced.

"I pride myself on not making mistakes and that's possibly as consistent as I have ever been," said Montgomerie, who had just two bogeys in the entire 72 holes.

The shot he picked out was his three-wood second to the long 17th hole yesterday.

Thinking he was only one ahead of Angel Cabrera (unbeknown to him the Argentinian had actually just bogeyed the 18th) Montgomerie took on a 252-yard carry over the lake guarding the green.

"It was a gutsy shot and as soon as the ball was in the air the tournament was dead," he said.

"It was slightly downwind but it was on a slight downslope and anybody who understands golf knows you have to hit it solid however strong or good you are.

"It came right off the middle of the bat."

It might well earn him the 'shot of the year' award for the third time in four years following his driver off the fairway over a lake in Dubai in 1996 and his match-winning final drive in the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama.

Montgomerie, leading money-winner in Europe for an incredible six seasons in a row, is now back on course to make that a magnificent seven, the win at The Oxfordshire having taken him to third place on the Order of Merit despite having played only three of the 15 counting tournaments so far.

The fact that others play so much more would appear on the surface to lessen his chances, but Montgomerie does not agree.

"I've been at this long enough to realise that you do get stale - but I don't give myself the opportunity to become that," he said.

"I came here not having touched a club for three weeks. I was fresh and wanting to win."

His win in Dubai three years ago also came straight after a three-month lay-off.

Now, of course, he wants his current form to continue right through to next month's US Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina.

The preparation for that continues with the £1.2million Deutsche Bank Open, starting in Heidelberg on Friday - Open champion Mark O'Meara, Ernie Els, Mark O'Meara and Europe's newest star Sergio Garcia are in the field along with Woods - and then the £1.3million Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he is the defending champion.

For all his success on home soil, Montgomerie knows there is one big thing missing from his career - a Major.

Beaten in play-offs for the 1994 US Open and 1995 US PGA and second again in the 1997 US Open - Els beat him just as he had three years earlier - the father-of-three does not want to overload the pressure on himself but is once again eagerly awaiting the second Major of the season.

Being fresh will again be important. He now feels he played too much going into the Masters last month, yet still finished 11th.

For the US Open he will take the week off beforehand and spend time with Dave Pelz, the American short-game expert whom he turned to last summer for help.

Faldo is also in Germany this week, looking to build on his seventh-place finish in the Benson and Hedges.

That was comfortably the 41-year-old former world number one's best finish of the season and although it moved him up only eight places to 40th on the Ryder Cup points table, Faldo's mood was that of someone who had taken a mighty leap forward.

"I'm obviously pleased with that considering I am rebuilding things," he said.

"Considering I made big changes at the start of the week it was good. I've stuff to work on and hopefully by Friday I'll have grooved it better.

"It was nice to play in Britain again. Everybody is rooting for me and wanting me to turn it round."