Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ernie Can Prove He's Really Something Els

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ernie Can Prove He's Really Something Els

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Garrod

Monty's prize-money record is in danger

Ernie Els cannot catch Vijay Singh at the top of the world rankings in Scotland this week ( but he can overtake Colin Montgomerie and become the biggest money-earner in European Tour history.

Winning the American Express World Golf Championship title at Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny on Sunday took the South African to career earnings of pounds 14.7m in 14 seasons of playing in Europe.

Seven-time Order of Merit winner Montgomerie had a four-year start, but his pounds 14.8m total winnings mean he is under attack at the Dunhill Links championship starting on Thursday.

With a purse of pounds 3.6m up for grabs, a top-eight finish might do for Els if Montgomerie misses a third successive halfway cut on the circuit.

The pair are way ahead in the career money table. Darren Clarke is next with pounds 10.4m, followed by Retief Goosen (pounds 9.7m), Bernhard Langer (pounds 9.6m), Padraig Harrington (pounds 8.9m) and Lee Westwood (pounds 8.2m). Singh, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez are next.

Els broke Westwood's record for one season on the Order of Merit when he took his total to pounds 2.2m at the weekend ( but there is a chance to add a lot more yet.

The Dunhill first prize at St Andrews on Sunday is nearly pounds 600,000 and next week's HSBC world match play championship at Wentworth, where he is the defending champion and going for a record-breaking sixth victory, carries golf's biggest winner's cheque of pounds 1m, although for money list purposes that is being scaled down.

Winning both could take Els to the world No 1 spot but only if Singh, who missed last week after his Florida home was damaged by Hurricane Jeanne, has a rough time on the course as well.

With five wins in his last six starts and a new record US Tour total of nearly 9. …

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