Monty top man again


ASIAN TOUR: Colin Montgomerie fought back from two shots down to win his first Asian tour title with a two-shot victory over Thongchai Jaidee in Dongguan, China.

The Scot started the final round two behind Thongchai but claimed the victory by firing a bogey-free five-under-par 67.

His Thai opponent, the Asian PGA Tour number one, was under pressure from Montgomerie's well-oiled game from the outset and shot a 71.

The 39-year-old Montgomerie finished the tournament on 16-under-par 272, two ahead of Thongchai.

"It shows to my peers I'm still there, I've not gone away and I'm still competitive at the highest level," said Montgomerie, who shared the Volvo Masters with Bernhard Langer last week.

"It's nice to show that. I was very tired coming over here from Spain. To get to China is not the easiest route and all credit to my caddie and I to last out."

Montgomerie did not drop a shot over his last 41 holes but he needed to be in strong form to hold off Thongchai, who caught the former European number one with birdies on the 14th and 15th but he bogeyed the 16th, handing the initiative back to Monty.

They both birdied the 17th, and Thongchai's chances of as last-gasp comeback were all but ruined by a poor approach shot on the par-four 18th.

SINGAPORE SKINS: Retief Goosen, the European Tour Order of Merit titleholder, stamped his mark on the Singapore skins tournament yesterday, walking away with $70,000 in a battle of four of the world's top 10 golfers.

The 33-year-old South African was pleased with the outcome in his first skins encounter, having beaten the likes of Ireland's Padraig Harrington ,who earned $50,000, Vijay Singh ($45,000) and Sergio Garcia ($15,000).

Goosen won only two holes, or skins as they are known in the made-for-television match, but one of them earned him $60,000 at the Tanah Merah Country Club. The par-three 11th hole proved to be the richest of the tournament after the previous six holes were halved and the prize money carried over.

Goosen's tee shot landed within three feet of the pin while none of the other three managed to keep the ball on the sloping green, and the easy birdie added $60,000 to the $10,000 won on the third hole.

Harrington, the world number eight and runner-up to Goosen on the European Tour Order of merit, ended with a flurry when he sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th to add $45,000 to the $5,000 he collected on the fourth hole.

"It's not a 72-hole stroke-play format and it doesn't really matter whether you make a bogey or a double bogey on a particular hole. All that matters is winning the right holes," said Harrington who suffered in the muggy Singapore heat.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it, though if the course had a few air-conditioners out there it would have better," he said, pointing to his sweat-soaked T-shirt.

Fijian Vijay Singh, the world number seven, opened with $5,000 on the first hole and then had to wait until the 14th before he added another $40,000.

Garcia had the best and worst shots of the day. He holed his nine-iron from 126 yards on the par five 15th for an eagle and his only skin of the day, worth $15,000.