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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 09:40 GMT
Monty primed for US success
Colin Montgomerie hopes his Ryder Cup displays have won him respect in the US
Monty hopes his Ryder Cup show has won him respect
Colin Montgomerie begins his season in Los Angeles on Thursday believing he can win regularly in the US - and that crowd hostility towards him there is now a thing of the past.

The 39-year-old tees off in the Nissan Open at Riviera before heading for next week's WGC Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa, near San Diego.

Neither course holds happy memories for Montgomerie.

He was reduced to tears at Riviera in 1995 after losing to Steve Elkington in a play-off for the US Open despite having equalled the lowest-ever total in a Major.

And at La Costa a year ago, the Ryder Cup hero threatened never to return to the States after suffering yet more abuse from the galleries.

But Montgomerie is now back in California, reinvigorated by his form at the end of last season and a couple of months' work on his fitness.

The Scot, who turns 40 in July, devoted much of December and January to shedding weight and strengthening the back which gave him so much trouble last year.

And he said ahead of his season-opener: "I feel quite confident that I'm going to win and win.

"I'm starting up fitter than I ever have before and I'm looking forward to this year more than any other.

"The 1988 season was my first and I looked forward to it, of course. But this is a different type of freshness - it's a rekindling thing.

"I had a very good end to the year from the Ryder Cup onwards and I want to take that on. I feel I can."

Montgomerie hopes his Ryder Cup display will bring him more respect from the American golfing public and prevent a repeat of the scenes at La Costa 12 months ago.

Then, he lashed out verbally at the hecklers during his defeat to Scott McCarron and said: "What can I hope to achieve over here if spectators don't allow me to compete on the same terms as everybody else?"

But he said of his return to La Costa: "I'm not worried about the reaction of the fans at all.

"I think after the Ryder Cup that sort of behaviour should be a thing of the past and hopefully it is."

Darren Clarke, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia are also in Los Angeles trying to stop Tiger Woods making it two wins from two events this season.

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