Ernie Els has told Colin Montgomerie to stop ”shooting his mouth off” after the Scottish star hit out at the South African for skipping the European Tour’s season-ending Volvo Masters in Spain.
”I know where he’s coming from so it’s no surprise,” said Els in response to Montgomerie’s comments.
”He wants to make noise and news for himself so I’m taking it with a pinch of salt.
”If he asked me what the real issue was he’d understand. He’s an international player and he didn’t get in [Singapore] this week, so he’s just shooting his mouth off.”
Els leads the European Order of Merit by €222 000 from Ireland’s Padraig Harrington but is unable to play in Spain because he had already committed to the Barclays Singapore Open.
It means Harrington, Justin Rose of England and Swedes Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson can overhaul him and claim the Harry Vardon Trophy.
Montgomerie, who topped the European standings a record eight times, criticised Els as well as Lee Westwood for not turning up in Spain.
”The Order of Merit meant a lot to me and it obviously does not to others,” he told the BBC. ”This should have been their priority. I would never, ever miss this.”
Els, along with Westwood, on Wednesday blasted the European Tour for ”screwing up” their dates by scheduling the Masters to clash with the Singapore Open.
Asian Tour chief Kyi Hla Han said the European Tour only had itself to blame for the row.
”We announced the Barclays Singapore Open in May last year and the European Tour issued their schedule in November. They knew the dates of the tournament,” he said.
”If they wanted to move they could have moved. Basically, they only have themselves to blame for players not being there.”
Han also hit out at the European Tour’s ”invasion” of Asia following the announcement in April of the inaugural Indian Masters in 2008.
At the time, Han condemned the move as ”unethical” as the European Tour organised the event without the involvement of the Asian Tour.
The announcement of another European event in South Korea next year, again without Asian Tour involvement, has only worsened matters.
Han insisted on Thursday the Volvo Masters spat had nothing to do with their Indian and Korean differences, but remained baffled as to why the European Tour is encroaching on Asia.
”When I took over the management last October we were talking and relations were going good,” he said.
”The European Tour had promised us that whenever they came into Asia they would only come at the invitation of the Asian Tour, and they broke that.
”It’s best to ask them why they are doing this. We have had eight co-sanctioned events in Asia since 1999 and it’s been working out quite amicably and suddenly they are changing it.
”We are not asking for more, we just asking for the same co-sanctioned agreements that we have.
”Maybe they have something up their sleeve. I don’t know. Basically, it’s an invasion.”
Asked if the disagreements could be resolved, Han said he didn’t know.
”I think everyone in the marketplace now knows that Asia is where the market is and that golf in Asia will only grow,” he said.
”For tours to try and take it over, if that’s their motive, then I don’t see any resolution to that.” — AFP