Colin Montgomerie is delighted to see Rory McIlroy take over at the top of the world rankings — but he still thinks Tiger Woods will win next month’s Masters at Augusta.
Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup captain has held that view since Woods returned to winning ways in California last December, and the American’s closing 62 at the Honda Classic over the weekend confirmed his opinion.
The round came from too far back to prevent McIlroy taking the tournament and dethroning Luke Donald as the world’s top player but as for the coming Major, Montgomerie said: “Does yesterday suggest anything else? On a course that he loves, I haven’t changed my mind.”
Woods is a four-time Masters champion and although his last victory there was seven years ago, his finishes since then have been third, second, second, sixth, fourth and fourth again. McIlroy led by four with a round to go last spring but then collapsed to an 80 and finished 10 behind Charl Schwartzel. Montgomerie was left wondering like everyone else how much that meltdown would affect the young Irishman.
“I thought it would be a lot longer than it was [to recover], but it didn’t even take another Major.”
Two months later McIlroy won the US Open by eight shots. Now he tops the rankings and got there despite Woods’ late charge.
“Two years ago Tiger probably would have snatched it after coming up in the rear-view mirror, but all credit to Rory for being stronger and more mature,” Montgomerie said. “You get Woods scoring 62 in the last round and you still win — that’s a very good effort.
“He could be number one for a while, but you’ve got also Luke and Lee [Westwood] and Woods is as determined as hell. He doesn’t like being outside the top 10.
“I think it will be a Masters to savour — it’s got everything going for it — and it will be a very interesting Ryder Cup later in the year, too. We’ve got the top four [German Martin Kaymer is behind McIlroy, Donald and Westwood], but I was looking at the rankings and the top 12 Americans are still ahead of us.”
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