Fired-up Montgomerie blows away blues

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The Independent Online
Colin Montgomerie may not always agree, but professional golf is good work if you can get it. The morning after the nightmare, when he blew the chance of winning pounds 166,660 in the B&H International, Montgomerie teed off in search of $1m (pounds 600,000).

In Sunday's gales, Montgomerie threw away a three-stroke lead, shooting an 84 which included a two-shot penalty for kicking sand in a bunker. A certain Audi A8 made rapid progress down the M40. "It's a Quattro and it's fast; very fast. I broke the speed limit on the way home," he admitted.

Back at The Oxfordshire yesterday, he beat Costantino Rocca by one hole in their 18-hole matchplay quarter-final of the European section of the world championship. Should he win a semi-final against Bernhard Langer and the final today, a trip to Arizona in January is the prize, where this year Barry Lane took the seven-figure cheque.

"It was tough to come back to the same place, park in the same spot and not think 84," Montgomerie said. "All I thought about going round was what went wrong yesterday. Now I feel a lot better about myself and the word 'golf'. If you can't get motivated for winning $1m, there is a problem."

Rocca was two up early on, but he three-putted the eighth and was buried under the lip of a bunker at the ninth, which cost him a double bogey. The next seven holes were halved until Montgomerie holed from five feet at the 17th for the decisive break. It was the only time the Scot was in front.

There was no repeat of the sand-kicking tantrum of Sunday. "It was just frustration. It wasn't an outburst of temperament. The ball was plugged and instead of a chance to get up and down, I did well not to put it in the water. I certainly wasn't 'testing the surface'.

"I am playing as well as I ever have," added Montgomerie, who has slipped to fourth in the latest world rankings. "Sunday was just the conditions. There were a few of us who didn't break 80. We were managing for seven or eight holes and then it went, and when it goes, it goes fast. Stephen Ames' round of 72 was exceptional, but the weather ruined the tournament."

Langer, two down with three to play, profited from Jesper Parnevik finding the water at the 17th to draw level, and later pitched to a foot at the same hole to win at the 20th.

Lane lost his crown when he lost by one hole to Spain's Miguel Jimenez after he went behind by three-putting the 16th. Jimenez this morning plays Sam Torrance, who beat Mark James 2 and 1 despite also finding the water at 17 and halving the hole with a bogey six.

n Jose-Maria Olazabal has withdrawn from the Volvo PGA championship, which starts at Wentworth on Friday. Olazabal, 30, who has not played since last September, has rheumatoid arthritis in both feet.

ANDERSEN CONSULTING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF GOLF (The Oxfordshire, Thame) First round: S Torrance (Sco) bt M James (Eng) 2 and 1; M-A Jimenez (Sp) bt B Lane (Eng) one hole; C Montgomerie (Sco) bt C Rocca (It) one hole; B Langer (Ger) bt J Parnevik (Swe) at 20th.