LONDON -- Colin Montgomerie's manager
stepped in to defuse a potential row on Tuesday after the
golfer criticized officials of The Masters for inviting players for "television rights."
Montgomerie, 44, will not be at Augusta National next week for only the second time since 1992. He is ranked 75th in the world; the top 50 are automatically invited to The Masters, the first major of the year.
"Colin completely understands Augusta's right to promote
themselves," his manager, Guy Kinnings, told Reuters. "The last
thing he would want to do is show disrespect or tell them who
they should or should not invite.
"He's done everything he can to be there, including changing
his schedule, and he's just very disappointed because he values
the tournament so highly. He does, though, feel he makes an
important contribution around the world in promoting golf."
Three Asian players ranked below Montgomerie -- India's Jeev Milkha Singh
(80th); Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng (93rd); and Liang Wenchong from
China (111th) received invitations to compete at Augusta, however.
Augusta chairman Billy Payne said their invitations were made
"utilizing the Masters brand," adding that interest in those
three countries would heighten.
Montgomerie told reporters Monday in Munich, where he was promoting
June's BMW International Open, that that was tantamount to handing
out invitations for "TV rights."
"Now, if I were the only person in the country, ŕ la China, I might get in. It is a strange way to make up a field for a major championship -- television rights," Montgomerie said in The Independent (London) newspaper. "They are quite open about why. They were when I missed out last time in 2005 when they picked Shingo Katayama who was 67th in the world and I was 51st. They picked him over me for the Japanese rights. And they have done the same with Thailand and China this time.
"I am not the only one who feels that way and not just because I am not in. In or not I'd be saying the same thing. It is a strange criterion to pick a major field."
Information from Reuters was used in this report.