The European season comes to a close this week with the traditional finale at Valderrama — the Volvo Masters.
And I fully expect Colin Montgomerie to crown a remarkable return to form with an unprecedented eighth Order of Merit title.
Monty goes into the tournament knowing exactly what he’s doing. The man is on very familiar territory. Let’s face it, he’s done this seven times before — maybe not for a while but it will feel like coming home.
He is also playing beautifully at the moment. I’ve got a feeling his closest rival for the title, Michael Campbell, has already accepted his fate.
He hasn’t played for a couple of weeks, preferring to spend some time with his family. That’s fair enough but not the actions of a man who thinks he can claw back over £100,000 in prize money in order to overhaul Montgomerie. Realistically, Campbell has to finish in the top three and hope Monty has a nightmare.
Given their respective form, I just can’t see that happening. I know there have been whisperings about what happened in Indonesia earlier in the season. It’s not something I want to get involved with. What I do know is Colin has played fantastically and will deserve the title if he wins it.
Players tend to enjoy Valderrama. Because the event is only open to the top 60 players, by the time you tee off the pressure is off. If you’re there, you’ve done the hard work already by qualifying and nobody’s fighting for their tour card.
Of course, what they will be fighting for are Ryder Cup points and the Volvo Masters is a rich tournament so there are plenty up for grabs.
It was great to see Jose Maria Olazabal jump up the list with his win in the Mallorca Classic last weekend. Jose hadn’t won on the European Tour since 2001 so it was fantastic to see him win. I would echo Sergio Garcia’s call to get Olazabal back in the Ryder Cup team. On current form he will qualify automatically anyway, but his sort of experience is vital to a Ryder Cup side.
We saw it with Monty at Oakwood Hills last year, how someone who’s been there and done it all before can make such a difference. I’m sure captain Ian Woosnam would love to have both of them in his side.
Another player hoping to make the team is Justin Rose, who returns to the European Tour next season to try and do just that.
It was a real pity Justin couldn’t record a maiden win on the US Tour on Sunday and came third at the Funai Classic. He has enjoyed probably his most consistent year since turning professional and it’s a shame he couldn’t crown it with a win.