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Monty: Woods' mystique gone

LONDON -- Colin Montgomerie believes Tiger Woods will return from his marital problems to win more majors but says he won't be the iconic player who dominated golf for the past decade.

Woods has taken an indefinite leave from the game after admitting to infidelity.

Montgomerie, the captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team, told BBC Radio on Sunday that he had no doubt Woods would come back and add to his 14 majors, but said his mystique had now gone.

Montgomerie is hoping Woods will be on the American team when the Ryder Cup is contested in Wales this year, he told BBC Radio.

"It is a shame that this has happened to our iconic sportsman and I say that as a fellow golfer to a player I have admired," Montgomerie said. "Nobody is quite sure how long this absence is going to be. We hope he gets back playing and winning tournaments as soon as possible.

"He will come back, but whether he will retain that mystique as an iconic player, I'm not sure. It will be tougher for him, but he'll be out to prove he do this under extreme pressure," Montgomerie told BBC Radio. "He has got four more to go to tie [Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins] and five to beat him. He will come back and win more majors providing his drive and ambition are still there. And let's hope they are."

Earlier, Montgomerie told Sky Sports that Woods will find it almost impossible to fully focus on his golf when he returns after the recent revelations over his private life.

Montgomerie, an eight-time European No. 1, went through a much-publicized divorce in 2006 and knows how pressures off the course can affect performance on it.

"It is absolutely impossible to play good golf [with all that going on]," said Montgomerie in an interview with Sky Sports.

"I can only speak for myself and say during a time like that you can just about make it to the next tee if you make a birdie or a par but with a bogey the world collapses around you," he said.

Montgomerie said negative thoughts about his own private life were difficult to shrug off when he was going through turmoil.

"A round of golf is an emotional roller-coaster anyway," he said. "I think it must have been similar for him. When you hit a shot and it goes left or right into the woods, immediately thoughts creep in during the long, two to three-minute walk to find the ball.

"It [the scandal] will impact on every tournament Tiger plays. Let's hope the tabloid press finish quickly and we get on supporting golf."

Montgomerie is one of the few top players to comment on the Woods situation since allegations about the 14-times major winner's private life surfaced after he was involved in a minor car accident outside his home in November.

"There is no question there was an aura about Tiger Woods over this incredible record he has, not just in majors but in other world events. That wall has been split slightly and there are cracks. It gives us more opportunity to find ways of winning these events now and I am thinking of myself as well as my peers."

Montgomerie said golfers everywhere were appreciative of Woods' impact on the sport.

"I think it is like Arnold Palmer for the American tour in the past and Seve Ballesteros for us in Europe," he said. "We are playing for the money we are today because of those two players.

"With Tiger he became a global ambassador for golf, therefore the whole world of golf benefited from Tiger. We in Europe have benefited, as Asia has, as Australia has, as South Africa has, as America has. It is a great debt to him that we are playing and sponsorship is as strong as it is in golf right now."

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.