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Colin Montgomerie keen to return to winning ways

European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is desperate to show he can still compete at the highest level when he lines up for this week’s co-sanctioned China Open in Beijing.

The eight-time European Tour order of merit winner, who will be hoping to lead his team to victory over the United States at Celtic Manor, Wales next year, has set the initial target of ending a winless streak that dates back to 2007.

“It’s very important to show that I’m still competing and it’s very important for the players to have respect of their captain,” the 45-year-old Briton, who has slumped to a world ranking of 147, told reporters on Wednesday.

“I would love to show them and prove to them I’m still capable of winning,” he added.

“I’d like to get back to the winner’s circle. It’s been about 18 months since. It’s been too long,” the European Tour’s most prolific British winner said.

Montgomerie will attempt to land his 32nd title in Beijing, not only for the winner’s cheque of $366,000, but also a spot in the 16-man field for the World Match Play Championship later this year in Spain.

“Whenever the winner here gets the fantastic invite, I’d like that to be me,” said the Scot, who will be teeing off in his 501st European Tour event this week.

The tournament also marks the first event to be hosted by the controversial OneAsia Tour, a newly-launched Asia-Pacific circuit driven by Australia with China and South Korea in support.

The new circuit has already encountered fierce opposition from the established Asian Tour, whose chief Kyi Hla Han said his players would boycott tournaments sanctioned by their rivals. However, multiple Asian Tour title winner Liang Wenchong will lead 36 Chinese players in the field for the former Asian Tour event that is now co-sanctioned by the European and OneAsia Tours as well as the China Golf Association (CGA).

“I believe that every player is eager to win a tour title on home soil,” the 30-year-old Chinese number one said.

Liang’s compatriot Zhang Lianwei clinched the China Open trophy in 2003 but there has not been a home winner since the European Tour became involved a year later.

“The participation of more and more high standard European players has been a challenge for our Chinese players,” Liang added. Ireland’s Damien McGrane is the defending champion.


April 16, 2009

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