Victor Chandler British Masters
Victor Chandler British Masters
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Montgomerie hoping to move up Order of Merit this week

Colin Montgomerie can take advantage of the absence of two of his main order of merit rivals this week in the British Masters and enhance his chances of an eighth successive rankings title.

Current European numbers one and two, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, both miss this week's event in order to fly to America earlier to prepare for the final major, the US PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Montgomerie, who in the past used to take a week off before US majors, has continued his policy of warming up at a tournament beforehand.

Now fourth-placed Montgomerie can reduce some of the margin created by Westwood's victory in last week's Scandinavian Masters.

The Scot is more than $600,000 adrift of Westwood, but he can reduce that by $200,000 if he goes one better than last year at Woburn where he had to settle for second place after being overtaken by American Bob May.

Montgomerie is unworried by being so far behind number one spot at this stage of the season, however.

Montgomerie tees off on the 10th during the Pro Am at the British Masters. Allsport.

"When I won in 1993 I was about 20th on the order of merit at this time," said the Scot.

"If I were to win one of the two tournaments after this week, I could be number one again, so there's still a long way to go.

"It's more of an international tour we're on now, not the same European order of merit as such, but I'm still ambitious to retain any title I've held for so long.

"I wanted to get five, so six and seven were a bonus. It might never happen again. Someone getting eight will take a while. I've nothing to prove."

With over $8 million prize money on offer in Europe a as well as the US for the major and the following week's World Championship, Europe's rankings top order could change dramatically.

Coupled with his bid to better his rankings chances, Montgomerie, still to end his wait for a major title, is keen to keep on playing before undergoing the heat of Valhalla.

"I don't want to sit around thinking about the major," he added. "I know I haven't won once yet but I'd rather play, to get competition mainly.

"I was pleased to go into St Andrews after a third place and playing okay. It just didn't happen at St Andrews."

This week is the last week for qualification for the World Championship for the Europeans, with the top 12 Europeans on the order of merit getting in to Firestone.

Former US Masters champion and ex-European number one Ian Woosnam can force his way into the top 12 from 13th and will be a threat the 12th-placed man Mathias Gronberg of Sweden.

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