From Brian Keogh at Valderrama

Colin Montgomerie has lashed absentee Ernie Els for missing the Volvo Masters.

But Justin Rose, 27, is simply delighted that the Big Easy is 7,000 miles away at the Singapore Masters.

Bidding for his first Order of Merit crown, Rose could overtake the South African and second ranked Padraig Harrington with a top three finish.

And he's looking forward to the chance of grabbing the biggest honour of his career.

Rose said: "It would be a career highlight, the pinnacle of my career so far, no doubt about it.

"Winning the Order of Merit means you've been top dog in Europe for that year and I think that's a huge honour.

"A few year ago I didn't think it was something I was capable of, so to have the opportunity now is exciting."

Els yesterday lashed the European Tour for the clash in dates between the Singapore Open and the Volvo Masters.

But eight-time Order of Merit winner Montgomerie hit back at Els and the other six European Tour members who are in Singapore.

Monty said: "It's a shame that all of the players that qualified are not here. The Order of Merit meant a lot to me but it obviously doesn't mean as much to others. But there you go."

Els and Lee Westwood signed three year contracts to play in Singapore in May last year - before the Volvo Masters was moved to a clashing date.

But Montgomerie was no convinced by that excuse, explaining: "Deals could be done where they could have played two of the next three years. This should be their priority. I would never, ever miss this.

"The Volvo Masters is our flagship tournament, this is out tour championship and we should have all the top 60 players here."

Unlike Montgomerie, Rose is not blaming the Big Easy for his decision to skip the Volvo Masters for the ninth year in a row.

Beaming, Rose said: "Well from my point of view, it's great. It's just a shame there is an overlap in the schedules.

"He has a commitment to that tournament for some time and it's just one of those unfortunate situations."

While Els played the 1998 Volvo Masters at Montecastillo, he has not played in the event at Valderrama since 1993.

The South African has never performed well at the Spanish track and played it just three times since 1993 with appearances in the American Express Championship in 1999 and 2000, when he retired with a back injury after just nine holes.

Speaking from Singapore, Els put the blame firmly in the European Tour for the clash of dates.

Els raged: "I signed a commitment with Barclays for three years, played my first one last year, this is my middle year and I've got a commitment next year - so don't blame me.
"I'd love to play the Volvo Masters, but if they screw up the dates so be it. The European Tour knew that I've got a three-year contract with Barclays.

"You can't please everybody and especially when two big events like these are being played on the same week. It just doesn't make any sense.

"I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago during the Match Play and I haven't heard any response in explanation. Somebody missed the ball - it's as simple as that."

Like Rose, Harrington is delighted that Els is missing this week and doesn't believe it takes anything away from a possible Order of Merit double.

Laughing, he said: "It doesn't bother me that he's not here. It's to my advantage so I'm happy with that."