Golf: Monty relaxed by absence of Westwood from USPGA

The final golf major of the year begins without the world's third best player - and Europe's best - at Whistling Straits today.

But, as Lee Westwood rests his ruptured calf muscle in Portugal, Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is less worried than he was about his star man.

Montgomerie, who is playing in Wisconsin after receiving an invite to the USPGA Championship, spoke yesterday to Westwood's manager Andrew Chandler.

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"He will be hitting balls in four weeks, which is great news for everybody in Europe," he said.

"Our team will be greatly weakened if he didn't make it, so I'm delighted. That gives him still another couple of weeks to prepare.

"He wants to play in the preceding event (The Vivendi in Paris from 23-26 September) and I would be glad to see him there.

"But, if he doesn't, I'm sure three practice rounds around Celtic Manor will be good enough for Lee."

Westwood, who pulled out after two rounds of the world championship in Akron last Friday, would have had another chance to become world No.? 1 this week.

Tiger Woods, however, remains under threat not only from Phil Mickelson yet again, but also for the first time from Steve Stricker, currently ranked fourth.

For that to happen Stricker would have to win with Mickelson outside the top three and Woods outside the top 24.

For Mickelson a top-four finish could do it. A win will guarantee it while, if he is second, third or fourth, Woods has to be top three, top 11 or top 46 respectively to retain the position he has held since June 2005.