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Monty hits out at Masters.

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COLIN MONTGOMERIE has blasted Masters organisers for inviting three Asian players to compete in next week's event for commercial reasons. China's Liang Wen-Chong, Thai Prayad Marksaeng and Indian Jeev Milkha Singh have been invited to compete at Augusta in the first Major of the season. And the move has stung Monty, who failed to qualify, and was overlooked for an invite, with the 44-year-old believing the invites have been given out solely to boost TV audiences in Asia.

"It's a strange way to make up a field for a Major championship - TV rights," said the Scot. "They are quite open about why, just as they were when I missed out last time in 2005, when they picked Shingo Katayama, then 67th in the world. I was 51st at the time. They picked him over me for the Japanese TV rights.

"There are enough Brits in the field, so there won't be a call. Now if I were the only person in the country, a la China, I might get in. It is the only one of the four Majors you can get invited to - you don't get an invite to The Open or the US Open or the US PGA. You have to qualify. It would be easier to swallow if no-one was invited and the entry list was based on sporting and not commercial criteria."

But Augusta chairman Billy Payne hit back, saying the three players, ranked 111th, 93rd and 80th in the world, compared to Monty's standing of 75th, had got in on merit. "These three individuals are successful, accomplished and talented golfers deserving of an invitation," said Payne. "They are outstanding representatives of their respective countries."

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Apr 2, 2008
Words:297
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