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Colin Montgomerie today (wed) gathered some of his close golfing friends around him in Seville on the eve of his 500th appearance as a professional on The European Tour – and proved that you can have your cake and eat it!

The 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain marked the occasion alongside two-time Masters Champion José Maria Olazábal, the course designer this week, and his fellow Spaniard and Ryder Cup player, Miguel Angel Jiménez at the Real Club de Golf de Sevilla as the trio prepared for the first round of the Open de Andalucia de Golf 09.

Montgomerie, who has won 31 European Tour titles – one of numerous standards he has set in a professional career spanning 22 years – will become the 18th player in Tour history to clock up 500 starts in the company of his good friend, Jiménez, this week’s tournament Promoter, and Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen.

The 45 year old Scot, who has won a record eight Harry Vardon Trophies as Europe’s Number One, commented:  “I feel very fortunate to say that number - 500. It means I’ve been healthy for over 20 years. It adds up to around 25 tournaments for the last two decades.  If you add that up into a series of miles I think I’ve almost walked from London to Hong Kong!

“I am very fortunate to say that I’ve been healthy for all those years and lucky enough at 45 to still be playing. I hope to get a lot further up that tree than 500 but right now I am very honoured to join the select band of 18 of us who have made it this far.

“There are some records of which I am very proud. For example, I’ve made 421 cuts out of 499 so far and 182 top ten finishes, which is a Tour record. I think 182 top tens shows a lot of consistency and a high level of performance and I hope to get that figure up to 200 – hopefully with number 183 this week!”

 “I look forward to every event that I play in and start with the feeling ‘this could be a win’ or ‘a very good finish’ or a career changing episode in one’s life. I do enjoy the competition. I love what this game brings out in me. I’m fortunate that what I do for a living and what I would do for a hobby is the same thing.”