European success is dream ticket for Monty

Sam Torrance
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COLIN MONTGOMERIE would have been grinning from ear-to-ear at the sight of three of his big guns dominating the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at the weekend.

Martin Kaymer showed nerves of steel to hole his birdie putt at the last to edge out Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy in a scintillating start to the new European Tour campaign.

While it’s fair to say all three are all but certainties for Monty’s Ryder Cup team this year, they still have to do the business, although he will be hoping they don’t peak too soon.

Kaymer kept his nerve superbly on the final hole – completing the dream par-five finale of reaching the green in two and two-putting for victory.

Without doubt, key to Martin’s success was his putting, but the statistics show he wasn’t bad with the driver either. Averaging 26.2 putts per round and a driving distance of 299 yards amounts to an impressive all-round performance from the German, who is still playing with pins in his feet following his quad bike accident last year.

While Kaymer enjoys a career-high sixth place in the world rankings, Poulter is also on the crest of a wave.

He also played beautifully throughout and was rewarded for his consistency in recording a fourth successive top-four finish with a spot in the world’s top 10 for the first time.

It’s fantastic for British golf to see Westwood, Casey and Poulter all in the top 10, while six are European – great news for Montgomerie.

Elsewhere, it was nice to see the great Tom Watson claim the Champions Tour event in Hualalai, becoming the 13th oldest winner at the age of 60. Sympathies to relative young gun Fred Couples, who ran him so close, but his time will surely come.

Avg Pts
1 Tiger Woods (USA) 13.59
2 Phil Mickelson (USA) 7.83
3 Steve Stricker (USA) 6.83
4 Lee Westwood (Eng) 6.37
5 Jim Furyk (USA) 5.51
6 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 5.31
7 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 5.24
8 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 5.20
9 Paul Casey (Eng) 5.16
10 Ian Poulter (Eng) 5.12

1 Lee Westwood 148.06
2 Rory McIlroy 111.66
3 Padraig Harrington 102.75
4 Ross McGowan 83.91
5 Ian Poulter 79.12

1 Lee Westwood 1,623,399.58
2 Rory McIlroy 1,184,186.03
3 Ross McGowan 1,091,417.56
4 Simon Dyson 861,689.72
5 Ian Poulter 760,755.98