Friday, 19 March 2010
It doesn't get much better than that! Colin Montgomerie - almost lost for words for once in his life - said it with feeling. Ernie Els endorsed the sentiment and huge crowds at Wentworth left the sun-drenched West Course bubbling with excitement over one of the great climaxes to the Volvo PGA Championship.

Every so often, golf throws up a final day of unparalleled excitement. The last round of the 1998 Championship unravelled into just that - a spectacle to leave the fans breathless as a clutch of great players challenged for the coveted title and the £200,000 winner's cheque.

Montgomerie captured his 15th European Tour title employing the same nerveless tactics which helped Europe retain the Ryder Cup at Valderrama last September.

Then, he needed to stay calm to secure a half with Scott Hoch. On Monday, over the immaculate West Course, Montgomerie was again a study of tranquillity as he wedged to nine feet from 105 yards and rolled in the winning birdie putt. A final round 69, following a marvellous 65 on Sunday, secured a first Volvo PGA crown - rated by Montgomerie as golf's fifth major - by one stroke from Italian Open champion Patrik Sjoland, Gary Orr and World No1 Ernie Els.

Montgomerie enthused: "This must be one of the great Volvo PGA Championships, to have so many players challenging for the title. "I have to thank all the people who turned up to support the event. The atmosphere was superb and the fact that we now have a £1.2m event with a £200,000 first prize shows the strength of the European Tour and just how far we have come.

"The money we're playing for is terrific. We've got a great European Tour now and a very strong one, very strong, and one that can compete with the best in the world".

The tournament, blessed by tremendous weather all weekend, began with a Swede in the lead, Michael Jonzon shooting a 66 to set the pace. But the second day belonged to Australian Peter Lonard, whose 65 carried him within a stroke of Jonzon, who tagged a 70 into his opening round. Els, with matching 69s, and Montgomerie, with a pair of 70s, were right in the thick of the action.

However the third round is traditionally moving day, and European No1 Montgomerie grasped the nettle, firing a seven under par 65 to sweep one ahead of Dean Robertson and Mats Hallberg. Then it was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man. As the crowds swelled along with the excitement, Sjoland set the clubhouse target of 275, 13 under par, with his second successive 66.

Els, never truly firing on all cylinders, followed three 69s with a 68, but I guessed it might not be enough. He said: "I should really have been a few shots better. I got close but I couldn't quite complete the job".

However, Els did succeed in returning to the top of the Volvo Ranling with Thomas Björn also overtaking José Maria Olazábal to claim second spot.

Scotland's Gary Orr joined the gang I the recorder's hut, watching and waiting, with a final 68. A four-way play-off looked in the offing but Montgomerie broke the deadlock with his nine footer for a birdie and 14 under par total of 274. So much for his prowess at as tipster. He had insisted that 15 under would win! Dean Robertson, another young Scot, led by two shots with five to play but was undone by a double bogey at the 16th. His compensation was £37,160 for a share of fifth.

But last word to Monty. He said: "I'm just delighted to have added this trophy to a great collection of European trophies I've accumulated over the last five or six years. "This is the one I always wanted to win!"

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