Dane pips man-in-million Monty

COLIN Montgomerie took his earnings in the Volvo PGA championship through the £1million mark yesterday when he picked up a share of second place at Wentworth but could do nothing to prevent Denmark’s Anders Hansen from savouring the finest moment of his career by dominating Europe’s flagship event.

Monty’s gritty 67 for 274 ensured the Scot maintained his recent run of fine form - he was second in Germany on Monday and third at the Benson & Hedges - without quite being able to find a way to capture his 27th tour win.

Watched by his daughter, Olivia, who rubbed a lucky ball every time her Dad was in trouble, Monty will see a surgeon this evening to decide whether or not an operation is required on his troublesome back.

Understandably, he would prefer not to go under the knife but, as yet, it’s not clear whether he’ll be able to tee up in the British Masters at Woburn. The Scot seriously considered pulling out of the PGA on Friday and no decision will be taken on what he does next until Wednesday.

In the end, the pre-tournament favourite finished five shots adrift of an 80-1 outsider. If you like a flutter on a long shot, the PGA is shaping up as a rival to the Grand National. A year after Andrew Oldcorn romped home at 125-1, Hansen followed him into the winner’s enclosure and in the process made a few quid for a friend who snapped up the generous price. Hansen relaxed on Saturday evening by watching the Eurovision Song Contest on TV, in which Denmark finished last, but the man from Sonderborg did manage to hit all the right notes at Wentworth.

He signed off with 69 for a tournament record low score of 19 under par to claim his first professional win thanks to a smorgasbord of shot-making which left the rest of the field trailing in his wake.

"I think this will help me deal with any pressure in my future career," said Hansen. "I’ve worked really hard on my game for a long time and now it’s paid off. I’ve started to believe in my game and myself."

Even though the 31-year-old’s form coming into this event was more than respectable - he’d finished third and ninth in the previous two weeks - no-one could have foreseen the imperious manner in which the hitherto unfancied Scandinavian would dominate the West Course. Making light of miserably wet and blustery conditions, Hansen displayed no hint of a defensive mentality as he carded birdies at the second and fourth holes, although his progress was interrupted by finding a watery grave in a greenside bunker at the third.

Although Australia’s Jarrod Moseley sprinted up the leaderboard thanks to a course record equalling 63 which included ten birdies, none of those positioned within striking distance of the Dane were able to summon up similar inspiration.

Argentina’s Eduardo Romero, 68 for 274, might have gone close but for a triple bogey 7 at the fourth. Otherwise the veteran played swashbuckling stuff after the turn when he followed consecutive birdies with an eagle and finished second with Mongomerie.

There was also the sub-plot of Nick Faldo’s attempt to qualify for the US Open. With the four-time winner of the event needing to finish at least second, a gallant 69 for 276 proved just short of what was required.

Although his homeland is not exactly a hotbed of golf, Hansen re-traced the footsteps of Steen Tinning and Thomas Bjorn as a tour winner by combining shrewd course management with clinical putting.

Sam Torrance, 70 for 281, would have loved a similarly lethal touch but felt a three-putt on the ninth green interrupted his progress and prevented an even stronger finish.

Oldcorn’s 70 for 285 wasn’t quite what last year’s champion was looking for, either, bearing in mind he was four under after 12 and hoping to take advantage of a relatively inviting closing stretch.

"I’m getting closer but still not sharp enough," he said. "The way I finished was poor. Over the week I took 40 shots for the last two par 5s - and that’s at least four shots too many for those holes alone.

"I’m still well short of where I want to be although I do feel as if I can move on now. I’ve treated the last two days pretty much as the start of the rest of my season. Overall I would probably give myself six out of ten for my performance over the weekend.

"I don’t feel as if I’ve done myself justice yet this year, so I’ll just keep persevering. Friday was a huge disappointment in many ways but, thankfully, I’ve put that behind me."

Apart from playing poorly in the second round, of course, Oldcorn also lost his temper and lashed out at a tree with a 5 iron - an incident which will cost him a fine.

Controversy also surrounds Miguel Angel Martin, the Spanish golfer who denies allegations of cheating by improving his lie in the rough at the Portuguese Open. The winner of two tour events looked unconcerned by all the brouhaha when he finished off with an eagle 3 at the last for 70 and a total of 288.

Apparently Martin had his locker vandalised recently - someone left a sign proclaiming the word "cheat" at the French Open - after Dutchman Maarten Lafeber only agreed to sign Martin’s card under pressure. Martin himself says he doesn’t understand Lafeber’s hostility and that there’s no evidence for the claim.

On a cheerier note, once Hansen walked away with the winner’s cheque for 333,330, there was encouraging financial news for all of Europe’s golfers when Volvo pledged to extend their sponsorship of the tournament at Wentworth for a further two years and increase the prize fund to 2.25million in 2003.

The car and aeroplane manufacturers, who spend 10million on backing golf tournaments around the world, announced an extension to a partnership which dates back to 1988 when the total prize money on the West Course was less than the current first prize.

If the strength of the field at Wentworth was not quite what was hoped for at the tour’s premier event, the good news is a clash with the Memorial in America won’t be repeated this time next year.

"Our vision has always been to have our best European players support this event as well as those international players who have been members of the tour at some point," remarked Ken Schofield, the tour’s executive director. "Not being up against the Memorial will help on that score."

Final score

(GB and Ire unless stated).

269: A Hansen (Den) 68, 65, 66, 70 (333,330).

274: C Montgomerie 64, 71, 72, 67; E Romero (Arg) 67, 68, 71, 68 (173,710 each).

276: M Campbell (NZ) 68, 70, 71, 67; N Faldo 71, 68, 68, 69; C Rodiles (Spa) 69, 67, 68, 72 (84,933 each).

277: J Moseley (Aus) 71, 73, 70, 63; D Clarke 70, 71, 69, 67.

279: D Gilford 68, 71, 70, 70; P O’Malley (Aus) 69, 71, 69, 70.

280: N Fasth (Swe) 71, 71, 71, 67; S Leaney (Aus) 68, 71, 73, 68; P Baker 70, 70, 68, 72; M Lafeber (Ned) 71, 70, 67, 72.

281: G Havret (Fra) 73, 69, 70, 69; S Torrance 71, 68, 72, 70; G Evans 68, 75, 67, 71; G Turner (NZ) 68, 71, 69, 73.

282: T Bjorn (Den) 71, 69, 73, 69; N Dougherty 72, 70, 71, 69; S Tinning (Den) 67, 76, 70, 69; J Bickerton 71, 68, 73, 70; R Gonzalez (Arg) 73, 70, 69, 70; B Lane 71, 71, 69, 71; P Price 72, 72, 68, 70; I Garrido (Spa) 69, 71, 69, 73; M McNulty (Zim) 67, 69, 71, 75.

283: D J Russell 68, 76, 73, 66; S Hansen (Den) 75, 69, 71, 68; A Forsyth 71, 68, 73, 71.

284: G Owen 71, 72, 75, 66; G Clark 69, 72, 73, 70; R Karlsson (Swe) 68, 75, 70, 71.

285: M Farry (Fra) 71, 72, 73, 69; A Oldcorn 68, 75, 72, 70; A Marshall 72, 70, 72, 71; T Gillis (US) 68, 74, 71, 72; P Sjoland (Swe) 71, 71, 71, 72; P Lawrie 73, 70, 68, 74.

286: B Rumford (Aus) 72, 70, 74, 70; D Carter 71, 72, 72, 71; H Bjornstad (Nor) 72, 71, 72, 71; J Van de Velde (Fra) 71, 69, 74, 72; R Wessels (SA) 72, 71, 71, 72; S Delagrange (Fra) 70, 73, 71, 72; A Cabrera (Arg) 70, 71, 70, 75.

287:

288: M A Martin (Spa) 70, 73, 75, 70; S Bebb 71, 71, 75, 71; M Davis 69, 75, 72, 72; M Lundberg (Swe) 71, 71, 73, 73; L Parsons (Aus) 68, 74, 72, 74; J Rivero (Spa) 71, 72, 71, 74.

289: G Brand Jnr 70, 73, 77, 69; D Borrego (Spa) 68, 74, 76, 71; A Coltart 67, 73, 77, 72; R-J Derksen (Den) 74, 70, 71, 74; J Sandelin (Swe) 69, 71, 73, 76.

290: J Spence 72, 72, 76, 70; R Green (Aus) 71, 73, 75, 71; C Hanell (Swe) 72, 72, 72, 74; G Emerson 73, 69, 73, 75.

291: Y Wei-tze (Tai) 73, 71, 73, 74; T Immelman (SA) 69, 74, 73, 75.

292: B Davis 72, 70, 76, 74; M Foster 69, 75, 74, 74.

293: G Marks 71, 70, 77, 75.

294: R Muntz (Ned) 69, 75, 77, 73; J M Olazabal (Spa) 68, 73, 75, 78.

295: M Brier (Aut) 71, 72, 78, 74; R Rafferty 68, 72, 79, 76.

296: P Casey 71, 72, 74, 79.

301: M Urquhart 73, 71, 82, 75.