Colin Montgomerie will be coming to Hong Kong on a high after claiming a record-breaking eighth European Tour Order of Merit crown.
The Ryder Cup ace, one of the star attractions in the UBS Hong Kong Open on December 1-4, sealed top spot on the money list by finishing joint third in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama, Spain, on Sunday.
“I didn’t need this, I just wanted it,” said Montgomerie on being presented with the Harry Vardon Trophy as European number one.
“Winning this is very important. It was a tall order, but after I finished third in the WGC – American Express [in San Francisco] I believed I could do it.
“There were times in the past when it was half expected of me to win this, which is unfair in many ways, so this is very special to me. It was skill and self belief – lots and lots of self belief and commitment in what I was trying to do. I never backed off.”
The Scot’s Order of Merit success means he will arrive at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling riding the crest of a wave. He is one of two European stars to have been confirmed for the UBS Hong Kong Open, the other being defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain.
Montgomerie’s triumph caps a brilliant comeback season which has seen him win the Dunhill Links Championship, finish runner-up to Tiger Woods in the British Open and register 11 other top-10 finishes.
The 42-year-old dominated European golf in the Nineties, winning seven Order of Merit titles in a row from 1993-99.
He had a share of the halfway lead at Valderrama, but shot a final-round 74 to finish three strokes behind winner Paul McGinley of Ireland.
The only man who could pip Montgomerie to the money list title, Michael Campbell of New Zealand, finished four shots further back in 14th.
Campbell, the US Open champion, accepted second place in the Order of Merit with typical good grace. “I’m disappointed” he reflected. “I hit the ball great but my putting has been awful for some reason. All credit to Monty, he’s played well over the last half of the season – but I’ll get him next year!”
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, the only Asian in the field and one of Asia’s main hopes for victory in the UBS Hong Kong Open, finished equal 22nd on even-par 284, one shot ahead of Jimenez.