From bad to curse

US Open: Moody Montgomerie spars with American spectators as his game goes from one extreme to another
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The Independent Online
Unlikely as it may have appeared on Thursday evening, Colin Montgomerie and Tiger Woods set out in the third round of the US Open yesterday on the same score of one over par. Nine strokes separated their first-round efforts, but while Woods dramatically improved from his opening 74 with a 67, Montgomerie frittered away the interest he had gained with a 65 to go into overdraft with a 76.

So much for having tucked a few savings in the bank, as Monty had put it, with his superb opener on Thursday. Montgomerie was as poor as he was brilliant the day before in a gruelling second round which only ended yesterday morning with Open champion Tom Lehman leading at three under by one from Ernie Els, the 1994 US Open winner, and Stewart Cink.

A suspension of two hours and 18 minutes shortly before the Scot was due to tee off added to the endurance test of stamina and determination that characterises the US Open in all its aspects. If there is a way of doing something simply, efficiently and easily, then it is unlikely to be included in the USGA guidelines for running a major championship.

Patience, patience, patience, as the Prime Minister would say, is the top priority for players, caddies, spectators, officials and the media people. For all his liking for the set-up of US Open courses, and there is no denying that his 'A' game is perfectly suited to it, Montgomerie still too often finds distractions infringing on his thoughts.

Provocation came when, after dropping his second shot of the day at the previous hole, he missed a five-footer for birdie at the ninth. There were a few cheers from spectators who had spent the rain-delay getting wet on the inside rather than the outside, but as he left the green, Montgomerie shouted: "Leave it for the Ryder Cup."

On the 16th tee, a spectator exhorted Phil Mickelson's drive with: "You Da Man!" Montgomerie yelled: "Hey, hey" and walked up to the man. "Sorry about that," the abashed gentleman said. "No, you're not," Monty replied. "You're not sorry at all." With which, Montgomerie drove into the rough again.

"Throughout the round, there had been some comments that you only expect at the Ryder Cup," Mickelson reported. "Things like 'Go USA' and degrading Scotland. That was uncalled for and kept building up. I thought Colin stood up for me and tried to keep the rowdiness down between shots."

While Montgomerie missed only one fairway and two greens in regulation on Thursday, the following day it was a very different story. This time his three-wood was far from straight and even when he twice went to his driver late in the round, that was no use. Apart from a three-putt at the second and failing to get up and down at the 10th, the other four bogeys were the direct result not putting the ball on the short grass off the tee.

Where once Montgomerie was hyper-consistent, he has become alarming erratic: either very, very good, or absurdly poor. Witness his last two rounds of 76, 64 at the PGA Championship.

The good news is there is little, technically, in his swing to go wrong and the remedy can be swiftly found. "I have got to regroup and find what I was doing on Thursday," he said. "If I can do that, I can still win. I know I'm capable of scoring low on this course. I just had a very, very poor day."

At the 14th hole, Montgomerie sent his wife, Eimear, in search of some headache pills. His assertion that he always suffers in the in the heat and humidity would be treated with more sympathy if he had worn a hat and not claimed so often in the past that such conditions are not a factor in whether he plays well or not.

At least his miserable day ended on Friday, as 45 players had to complete their second rounds yesterday morning. The Zimbabwean Mark McNulty was the highest placed but with a couple of bogeys, he fell back to level par. A couple of birdies could have knocked out those on seven over who went through on the 10-shot rule, but Darren Clarke and Jesper Parnevik remain, as do Nick Faldo and Paul Broadhurst, who improved eight shots for a 69, on six over. Faldo was in danger of missing his second successive cut in majors, as Greg Norman did, after a 74.

Faldo's problems over the first two days have come with his approach play and his putting since he missed only five fairways over the first two rounds. Even more impressively, Lee Westwood, who is fifth in driving distance, Clarke and Paul McGinley only missed four to be joint second in this all important category. If it meant everything, of course, McGinley would not now be on his way home.

In all 10 of the 16 Europeans here survived what was more of a light trim than a cut. Last year the 10-shot rule, now abandoned by the R&A for the British Open, produced a weekend field of 108, so 84 this year is an improvement.

Bernhard Langer resumed at the 13th, bogeyed his first two holes and although he had two birdies after that, he missed out by one shot. The two other Europeans who were back here early were Thomas Bjorn, of Denmark, who made it, and Padraig Harrington, who did not. Greg Sweatt made the most of his limited course time yesterday to score an 11 at the par-four 17th, losing one ball out of bounds, another in the water, and finding a spot in the rough from where it took him three to get out.

Open Diary, page 22

Complete second-round scores from the US Open

(US unless stated)

137 T Lehman 67 70

138 E Els (SA) 71 67; S Cink 71 67.

139 J Maggert 73 66; D Ogrin 70 69; H Sutton 66 73; S Hoch 71 68

140 M McNulty (Zimb) 67 73.

141 K Gibson 72 69; S Dunlap 75 66; T Woods 74 67; D Schreyer 68 73; J Leonard 69 72; T Tolles 74 67; C Montgomerie (GB) 65 76; L Roberts 72 69; J Sluman 69 72; HKase (Japan) 68 73

142 J M Olazabal (Sp) 71 71; O Browne 71 71; D Mast 73 69; S Stricker 66 76; L Westwood 71 71; J Furyk 74 68; D White 70 72; B Andrade 75 67; Jay Haas 73 69; B Tway 71 71

143 C Rose 72 71; C Perry 70 73; H Irwin 70 73; P Mickelson 75 68; S Elkington (Aus) 75 68; F Funk 73 70; John Cook 72 71.

144 C Parry (Aus) 70 74; T Kite 75 69; P Azinger 72 72; P Stewart 71 73; L Mize 70 74; S McCarron 73 71; G Towne 71 73; J Nicklaus 73 71; P Teravainen 71 73

145 P Goydos 73 72; L Janzen 72 73; J Morse 71 74; P Stankowski 75 70; F Nobilo (NZ) 71 74; E Fryatt 72 73; B Hughes (Aus) 75 70; S Adams 71 74; A Coltart (GB) 74 71; D Love 75 70; N Price (Zimb) 71 74; F Zoeller 72 73

146 N Faldo (GB) 72 74; L Mattiace 71 75; G Kraft 77 69; C Smith 77 69; S Appleby (Aus) 71 75; M O'Meara 73 73; B Faxon 72 74; P Broadhurst (GB) 77 69; M Dawson 75 71; P Parker 75 71; D Hammond 75 71; G Waite (NZ) 72 74; T Watson 72 74; M Hulbert 73 73; SAmes (Trin) 73 73; DWaldorf 73 73; T Bjorn (Den) 71 75

147 S Jones 72 75; J Parnevik (Swe) 72 75; D Duval 74 73; D Clarke (GB) 73 74; J Green 75 72; R Wylie 71 76; J Ferenz 72 75; R Butcher 73 74; B Crenshaw 73 74; F Couples 75 72; V Singh (Fiji) 71 76.

Missed the cut

148 R Black 76 72; L Rinker 73 75; C Pavin 74 74; L Rinker 76 72; P McGinlay (Ire) 75 73; *J Kribel 70 78; B Langer (Ger) 73 75; M Clark 77 71.

149 L Nelson 74 75; PJ Cowan 73 76; M Swartz 77 72; L Silveira 77 72; K Green 75 74; M Calcavecchia 73 76; M Brooks 71 78; *C Wollmann 75 74; M Reid 72 77; S Simpson 76 73; K Perry 76 73; S Murphy 75 74; J Estes 74 75; J Mazza 73 76; E Brito 74 75

150 G Nicklaus 73 77; R Allenby (Aus) 75 75; K Altenhof 78 72; I Woosnam (GB) 76 74; C Strange 79 71; S McRoy 73 77; D Zinkon 76 74; B Porter 74 76

151 M Wiebe 71 80; D Trixler 74 77; *T Noe 75 76; M Gogel 80 71; M Sposa 77 74; A Aquilar 77 74; K Schall 74 77; R Cochran 73 78; P Harrington (Ire) 75 76; M Bradley 77 74; D Forsman 77 74

152 G Robison 78 74; S Hart 74 78; J McGovern 72 80; M Brisky 70 82; JD Blake 79 73; Masashi Ozaki (Japan) 79 73; K Jones 78 74; J Pillar 76 76.

153 B Gilder 80 73; F Lickliter 71 82.

153 P Mitchell (GB) 75 78; R Cramer 72 81.

154 D Stockton 76 78; *J Semelsberger 78 76; R Hunter 76 78; G Norman (Aus) 75 79

155 B Wayment 78 77; R Bradley 77 78.

156 R Gunn 80 76.

157 E Humenik 79 78; *B Kearney 76 81.

159 B Tennyson 79 80; T Tryba 80 79; M Schiene 81 78

160 R Russell (GB) 79 81; M Martin 87 73

164 A Morse 87 77.

167 G Sweatt 78 89.

Withdrew: J Daly 77, D Toms 78.

* denotes amateur

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