Monty: Europe dominant in world golf

Victorious Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has hailed Europe as the new leading force in world golf.

Victorious Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has hailed Europe as the new leading force in world golf.

Speaking at an HSBC Charity Golf Day in Hong Kong, the Scot pointed to an extremely successful year for European golfers, which includes three major victories, the reclamation of the Ryder Cup, and, perhaps most importantly, “a changing of the guard” with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer on the verge of unseating Tiger Woods from the top of the world rankings, and a further three Europeans in the top ten.

Westwood, who narrowly missed out on claiming the top spot at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland over the weekend, has announced he is to take a break from golf following a recurrence of a long-standing calf injury.

Despite not playing until the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai on November 4, the 37-year-old could dethrone Woods, who has held the position since 2005, thanks to the way the ranking system is calculated.

“I think Lee (Westwood) will be number one even if he doesn’t play,” said Montgomerie. “If Tiger (Woods) does not change his schedule he will lose his number one spot. It is just the way the world rankings work.”

But Westwood’s ascendance is not guaranteed, thanks to a masterful run of form from 25-year-old Martin Kaymer, who has bagged three consecutive European Tour victories, and moved from sixth to fourth on the world rankings. The German has since also announced that he will participate in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters in Spain, which could see him leapfrog both Westwood and Woods.

“We have always bowed to America’s dominance of the world rankings, with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson one and two respectively,” said Montgomerie. “But now we don’t just have Lee Westwood but also Martin Kaymer coming up as well.

“There is a changing of the guard towards Europe and also the European Tour.”

With Woods, Mickelson, Westwood, and Kaymer all set to play at the HSBC Champions event, Montgomerie expects the battle for the coveted number one spot to be a heated one.

“Knowing Tiger as I do, he will go out and win the HSBC Champions event. He will not like to be number two at anything and he will come out fighting,” he said.

“The only thing Lee can do is come over for the HSBC Champions and win. He is playing as well as anyone in the world of golf right now and he will be as anxious to win in Shanghai as Tiger will.

“It has got very close and if Martin Kaymer wins a couple of events before then he could be number one, so it is fantastic for the event.”

World Rankings top ten:
1 Tiger Woods 8.67pts
2 Lee Westwood 8.35
3 Phil Mickelson 8.27
4 Martin Kaymer 8.04
5 Steve Stricker 7.57
6 Jim Furyk 7.39
7 Paul Casey 6.18
8 Luke Donald 5.76
9 Rory McIlroy 5.49
10 Ernie Els 5.35