Their battles in the past have gone Els' way more often than not. But Montgomerie holds the edge at Wentworth, where both men have homes.
Els won the World Match Play title on the same layout last year and three times in a row from 1994 to 1996, but has never won here so early in the year.
Montgomerie is the only player to win the Volvo PGA title three successive times, from 1998 to 2000.
'I've been close but I think the couple of times I was close I was up against Monty,' Els said. 'For some reason, Monty and the PGA just gel.
'I really just haven't played well enough to win the PGA. For the Match Play, it's kind of a different feel,' he added.
Els, who won four tournaments and finished second twice in six events at the start of the year, had planned to play last week in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany. But a recurrence of the wrist injury he sustained earlier this year hitting a punching bag kept him out.
Els has not played tournament golf since the Houston Open late last month.
Els said returning to a course he knows well should be a benefit.
'Hopefully that will help me through. I played nine Monday, nearly 18 Tuesday and 18 today,' he said. 'But it's kind of up in the air what my form is going to be like tomorrow.
'I really want to feel like I can win and that's why I'm here.'
Montgomery is coming off a poor run on the U.S. Tour, where he missed the cut in five of six events.
Since returning to Europe, he finished second at the Italian Open, tied for 27th at the Benson & Hedges and tied for 34th in Germany.
'But I'm playing better and I'm looking forward this week. I feel very confident here,' he said.
Padraig Harrington, who won in Hamburg on Sunday to move to the top of the European money list, is skipping this event to prepare for next month's U.S. Open.
Anders Hansen of Denmark is back to defend his title.
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