Golf: Montgomerie steps up a gear as Scotland take lead

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The Independent Online
Scotland have never won the World Cup but Colin Montgomerie and Raymond Russell could put that right this weekend at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. After two rounds, they are two ahead of Ireland, reports Andy Farrell.

"We have a great chance to win this year," said Colin Montgomerie the other day. "When some people say that they don't believe it, but I do.''

There is never usually a problem believing that Monty believes something he says. It is just that he is likely to believe something else the next day. But concerning Scotland's chances in the World Cup, he has been proved correct. After two rounds, Montgomerie and his partner Raymond Russell have a two shot lead over Ireland and Sweden.

Montgomerie moved up a gear on the back nine after he eagled the 11th by hitting a two-iron from light rough to four feet. His inward 31 left the Scots at 16 under along with Russell's 72.

"I am surprised Scotland have not won the World Cup before when you think of players like Sandy Lyle and Sam Torrance in they heyday," Montgomerie said. "We are in a good position. Both of us are playing well tee to green.''

Ireland reached 14 under after Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley again combined for seven under, although Harrington was the major contributor this time, while America's Davis Love and Justin Leonard are lurking one further back.

The mere fact that Johansson made it to the first tee was important because he had been on the verge of quitting the event, despite Sweden's position at the top of the leaderboard overnight, after collapsing in the clubhouse late on Thursday afternoon.

Although he felt better yesterday morning, Johansson was ready to retire at any time, leaving his partner, Joakim Haeggman, to continue solo in the individual competition. Even during his first-round 64, Johansson complained to his compatriot on the 16th hole that he was feeling overly tired.

Worryingly, something similar happened to the 30-year-old Swedish player two weeks ago at the Sarazen World Open in Atlanta where, despite each of his rounds being worse than the one before, he finished 11th. "What's scary is that nobody has been able to tell me what it is yet," he said.

At his own request, Johansson was taken to a local hospital for tests. "I started feeling incredibly tired on the course yesterday and it just got worse when I was back in the clubhouse," he said. "I wasn't as pumped up today as I'm not sure about my energy level.''

Johansson had six pars in a row until he reached the seventh, a par-five, and took a double bogey seven. Missing the green with his third, his first chip moved the ball only a couple of feet. Having created a cushion for themselves by reaching 14 under on the first day, Haeggman had a 70 to counterbalance Johansson's 74.

With every score for each player counting, a team's position can change rapidly. Spain sprung into the lead by three strokes at 17 under after 10 holes on the back of Ignacio Garrido's front nine 31. But the journey home was fraught.

At the 11th, Garrido bogeyed, but his partner, Miguel Angel Martin, took a double. They reversed their roles two holes later, while Martin also doubled the 15th where Garrido had to chip in for a birdie to limit the damage.

With a cross-breeze and the pins tucked away more than on Thursday, scoring was not as easy as in the first round. Alex Cejka, who set the new Ocean Course record with a 63 the day before, maintained his lead in the individual event with a 68.

At 13 under, he leads by three from Montgomerie, Love and Garrido but Germany are only 12 only. Sven Struver must feel he is back playing with Bernhard Langer. In '93, when Langer won the International Trophy, Struver was 27 strokes worse leaving Germany only eighth in the team event.