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Making a case for Monty

Dave BowersBy Dave Bowers,

Barring a personal trauma Colin Montgomerie will be making his way to Augusta next month to try, once again, to secure a major.

And when he arrives I hope you'll give him the credit he deserves.

I realize it's only a minority of golf fans in the United States who bait Monty, but I really can't understand why he is so unpopular with a small section of the sport's followers.

He's won the European order of merit on about 100 occasions and is already a legend.

He possesses an unbeaten record in six Ryder Cup singles and was top points scorer for either side with four and a half out of five in the 2002 event at The Belfry.

And calling him a choker in majors is a little harsh.

I'll admit, he did lose in a playoff for 1994 U.S. Open and was runner-up again to Ernie Els in 1997.

He was also defeated in sudden-death by Steve Elkington in the U.S. PGA Championship in 1995.

But if he really wasn't up to it, would he have been in that situation in the first instance?

He's a magnificent golfer, even in his early 40s -- and he still possesses a swing many of us would die for.

So it annoys me when I hear of him being sniped at when he plays across the pond.

He wears his heart on his sleeve and may not be the easiest person to get along with -- I don't speak personally as I've never invited Eimear and him to dinner.

Certainly he could occasionally treat the media with a little less disdain at the culmination of a tournament, but he's not alone in needing some good PR advice.

Would the American public take to him more if he was more media friendly? Only those of you that side of the Atlantic can say for certain, but with so much golf on view -- and therefore so many people being interviewed -- I suspect his sometimes sour demeanor doesn't exactly endear him to the American viewing public.

But please be patient with him. He has, on many occasions in the past, displayed a very dry sense of humor, and has even been known to smile for the British media.

Over here we regard him as the best golfer currently playing who is yet to win a major. Over there you may claim that title for Phil Mickelson -- and there's the nub of the matter.

We love Phil in the UK. He's a genius around the green.

We'd like nothing more than for him to come over here this year and win the Claret Jug. Nothing, except maybe Monty taking the green jacket at Augusta.

So I'll cut you a deal. I'll back Phil at Troon if you promise to support Monty at Augusta and then Shinnecock Hills.

Trust me; you won't regret it. A tournament is a much better spectacle when Monty's in there fighting at the death.

Stay where you are, ladies

I've never pleaded with a woman before -- well not that I'd admit to anyway.

But I will make this one request to all the women on the tours out there: please don't try your hand on the men's PGA Tour.

I know it earns column inches for the women concerned and I admit to being a firm believer in the old adage that 'no publicity is bad publicity' -- normally.

But on this occasion I believe the likes of Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and Laura Davies -- while raising their own profile and earning a few bucks in the process -- could be doing lasting damage to the women's game. Women's events find it difficult to attract the same amount of coverage -- and therefore sponsorship -- as it is.

If the game's top players keep trotting off to flirt with the men -- in a sporting sense of course -- even fewer companies will be interested in backing the women's tours.

And as a great admirer and follower of the Evian Tour in particular -- the UK carries about as much coverage of the LPGA Tour as it does inter-continental barrel jumping -- I find that disheartening.

Stay where you are and boost the competition in your own events. In the long run we will all reap the benefits.

Rain, rain, go away ...

I have to be honest and say my clubs haven't seen much action this winter.

I don't enjoy playing in the rain -- and boy does it rain where I live.

Undoubtedly my game will have suffered for a lack of 'match' practise, but I will simply call up my local pro, who will go through the same drills he went through with me last time, and put me right just in time for the onset of winter 2004.

Dave lives on the south coast of England with partner Jackie and their three children. Originally a football writer in his homeland, he even rose to the giddy heights of public relations manager for an English professional Premiership side. But he'd been bitten by the golf bug and returned to his roots in journalism as executive editor for Golf Management Europe magazine and as a sports sub-editor/golf writer on one of the country's largest regional daily papers. Like all of us, he plays golf whenever he can - which isn't as often as he would like - and has even performed stand-up comedy in a top comedy club.

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