RYDER CUP captain Colin Montgomerie is tipping world No1 Lee Westwood to end his long wait for a first Major title and give the European Tour an unprecedented clean sweep at the Masters in April.
Montgomerie knows all about the Englishman’s yearning to triumph at one of the big four tournaments, having himself famously missed out on a Major despite being one of Europe’s all-time greats.
Players from the European Tour currently hold the other three Majors and Montgomerie is convinced Westwood will make it an historic four out of four by finally scratching his itch in next year’s first big event. “Next year hopefully we’ll have a Masters winner, and then all four Majors will be held by European Tour members – the first time that’s ever happened,” said the Scot (right).
“I think with Westwood’s success in the Masters this year [he came second], having led after three rounds and being beaten by a brilliant Phil Mickelson in the last round, that he will win the first Major of the year. From then on it’s anyone’s shout.”
Montgomerie compared Westwood’s near misses on the biggest occasions with his own, as well as the pressure on British tennis No1 Andy Murray, who despite consistent excellence is still without a Grand Slam.
“It gets harder,” he added. “Andy Murray sees that right now. He’s finding it hard to go one more, as I did. Lee’s been second or third on a number of occasions now, but I feel with the added confidence from No1 status and his fantastic end to the season, that would run into a win in the Masters.”
While Tiger Woods showed signs of a long-awaited recovery at the Chevron World Challenge last weekend, Montgomerie believes the European boom will prevent the American from ever reasserting the dominance of old.
“You’ll see him win Majors again, and I’m still convinced he’ll get to 18 or 19, but I don’t think you’ll see him as dominant, winning two or three a year,” said Montgomerie, speaking yesterday at the launch of Golf Live 2011 at City Golf.
“I think it’s the improvement in European players as opposed to anything with Tiger. I’d like to be very, very positive here and say it’s all down to the standard of European players coming up to his level and at this stage overtaking him.”