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Saturday, November 6, 1999 Published at 21:19 GMT


Battle for top spot reaches climax

Jimenez is leading but the spotlight is on Colin Montgomerie

Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia stepped up the chase of Colin Montgomerie at Valderrama to ensure the battle to become European No 1 will go to the final round of the season.

Montgomerie, bidding to win the Order of Merit for a record seventh successive year, managed only a one-over-par as his familar short temper returned on the second day of the American Express World Championship.

His two-over-par halfway total saw him slip five shots behind leaders Miguel Angel Jimenez and Chris Perry.

But Westwood and Garcia, the only players who can catch Monty, closed the gap to finish two and three shots off the lead.

Both need to win the 609,000 first prize to have a chance of ending the Scot's long reign, but that possibility is still alive with 15 players separated by a mere three strokes.

If Westwood wins Monty must finish third to retain his Order of Merit title and if Garcia wins he must take second.

The sideshow did not distract Jimenez and the winner of last week's Volvo Masters leapt out of the pack with a 69 to share the lead with Perry.

One behind are Zimbabwe's Nick Price and a third of America's winning Ryder Cup team in Boston in September - Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard, Hal Sutton and none other than Tiger Woods.

The world No 1 is now favourite for what would be a fifth victory in his last six tournaments and an incredible ninth of the year after grabbing birdies at the last two holes for a 70.

But the tournament spotlight has inevitably fallen on Montgomerie and his bid to break the record for consecutive Order of Merit wins.

Collated scores after the third-round of the American Express World Championship at Valderrama, Spain. (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 71)
209 MA Jimenez (Spa) 72 68 69, C Perry (USA) 70 67 72
210 H Sutton (USA) 75 66 69, T Woods (USA) 71 69 70, N Price (Zim) 69 71 70, T Lehman (USA) 72 67 71, J Leonard (USA) 71 67 72
211 JM Olazabal (Spa) 73 69 69, L Westwood 73 67 71, S Cink (USA) 75 65 71, D Toms (USA) 72 68 71, S Hoch (USA) 69 70 72
212 S Garcia (Spa) 74 69 69, J Furyk (USA) 68 73 71, T Herron (USA) 71 66 75
213 D Hart (USA) 75 68 70, B Estes (USA) 69 72 72, M Weir (Can) 73 68 72, M James 69 70 74, F Funk (USA) 71 68 74, V Singh (Fij) 67 71 75
214 B Geiberger (USA) 75 71 68, R Pampling (Aus) 71 74 69, C Montgomerie 70 72 72
215 D Paulson (USA) 76 71 68, J Van de Velde (Fra) 72 73 70, L Roberts (USA) 72 72 71
216 N Ozaki (Jpn) 76 71 69, J Sluman (USA) 77 70 69, C Parry (Aus) 72 73 71, S Appleby (Aus) 76 66 74, R Karlsson (Swe) 74 68 74
217 S Elkington (Aus) 74 72 71, D Clarke 79 67 71, J Moseley (Aus) 76 69 72, D Love (USA) 74 70 73, P Mickelson (USA) 69 71 77
218 A Cabrera (Arg) 74 74 70, T Tryba (USA) 77 71 70, B Tway (USA) 75 72 71, J Huston (USA) 72 74 72, S Pate (USA) 72 74 72, K Hosokawa (Jpn) 73 73 72, R Goosen (Rsa) 75 69 74
219 J Sandelin (Swe) 70 74 75
220 P Harrington 76 74 70, E Els (Rsa) 74 75 71, B May (USA) 77 69 71, C Spence (Aus) 72 73 75, S Dunlap (USA) 74 71 75, P Lawrie 76 68 76
221 N Begay (USA) 77 71 73, B Langer (Ger) 71 70 80
222 C Franco (Par) 75 73 74
223 D Frost (Rsa) 76 73 74, J Maggert (USA) 70 74 79
224 D Waldorf (USA) 74 77 73
226 R Kaplan (Rsa) 78 75 73, G Day (USA) 78 67 81
227 A Cejka (Ger) 79 76 72, T Bjorn (Den) 72 81 74
228 B Watts (USA) 75 74 79




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