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Montgomerie's manager calms Augusta invitation debate

Colin Montgomerie's manager stepped in to defuse a potential row on Tuesday after the eight-times European number one criticised US Masters officials for inviting players for "television rights".

Next week the 44-year-old Briton will miss out on Augusta for only the second time since 1992, having failed to get in the world's top 50 who are automatically invited to the first major of the year.

"Colin completely understands Augusta's right to promote themselves," his manager Guy Kinnings told Reuters. "The last thing he would want to do is show disrespect or tell them who they should or should not invite.

"He's done everything he can to be there, including changing his schedule, and he's just very disappointed because he values the tournament so highly. He does, though, feel he makes an important contribution around the world in promoting golf."

Montgomerie was 75th in the world rankings when the Masters field was decided on Sunday.

But three Asian players below him, India's Jeev Milkha Singh (80th), Thai Prayad Marksaeng (93rd) and Liang Wenchong from China (111th) will be at Augusta.

Augusta chairman Billy Payne said their invitations were "utilising the Masters brand", adding that interest in those three countries would heighten.

Montgomerie told reporters in Munich, where he was promoting June's BMW International Open, that was tantamount to handing out invitations for "TV rights".

April 2, 2008

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