Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie won his first title of the year Sunday, as he defeated Australia's Scott Barr to win the Macau Open on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. Montgomerie forced the playoff when he birdied the final hole of regulation with a 65-cm. putt to tie Barr, who had held a three shot lead with six holes to play. The seven-time European Order of Merit winner then sank another birdie on the first playoff hole, while Barr could only salvage a par after landing in a bunker. Montgomerie fired a 3-under-par 68 in the final round to finish with an 11-under-par total of 273 for the tournament. The 40-year-old Scot has won at least one title every year since 1990. India's Arjun Atwal finished third after carding a three-under-par 68, to finish two shots off the lead on nine-under.
Meanwhile, Ernie Els of South Africa won a record-tying fifth World Match Play title as he defeated first-time finalist Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, 4 and 3 in Virginia Water, England. Els took a three-hole lead after the opening 18 holes, then held on for the victory on the West Course at Wentworth, despite a hole-in-one by Bjorn late in the match. Els, who was playing his sixth final, captured three straight titles from 1994-96 and won again last season. He matches the five titles won by fellow-South African Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros of Spain.
The South African golfer won the first place purse of $1.67 million, plus a car valued at $62,000. Els also clinched the European money title with two events left. His nearest rival, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, has pulled out of next week's Madrid Open.