Thus far the brainchild has shown itself to be a few cells short of a tournament to awaken the imagination and set the pulse racing. Bernhard Langer, the only current major winner on duty over the Burma Road, never got out of neutral and he went out 6 and 4 to Colin Montgomerie; Nick Faldo, the defending champion, hardly needed to get out of first gear to dismiss Steve Elkington 4 and 3 and David Frost and Corey Pavin defeated Ian Woosnam and Nick Price respectively, both by the margin of 2 and 1.
In the semi-finals today, Faldo plays Frost, who defeated him in the Alfred Dunhill Cup at St Andrews last week, while Montgomerie takes on Pavin. To put the tin cap on it all we need now, with all due respect to the South African and the American, is a Frost-Pavin final. Ticket touts can take the day off. Interestingly enough, there was a record attendance on Thursday, when John Daly made his debut and quickly made his exit, and yesterday the crowds were down on last year.
Montgomerie, who was involved in a nip and tuck match with the Japanese Yoshinori Mizumaki in the first round, had Langer tucked up before they reached the turn in the morning. Big Monty, who partnered Langer in the Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island in 1991, went one up at the fourth and was never headed. When Langer did manage to find a rare birdie, his first of the day at the 12th, he lost the hole to an eagle, Montgomerie hitting a two-iron to eight feet. When he produced another eagle at the 22nd he went four up. He was seven under for the 32 holes played.
'I was under pressure in the first round, today I was not,' Montgomerie said. 'Against Langer I felt I had nothing to lose. In this company I am not expected to win. This is a title everybody would love to have and if I win it would be a real career boost.'
Langer did not need more than that to register the words spoken at his interview. 'It's a long walk for 10 words,' he lamented. As a second-round loser, he received pounds 35,000.
Faldo enjoyed his aperitif at noon, going into lunch two up by winning the 17th and 18th with a birdie and an eagle. He has made a habit of getting a three at the last and he did so by hitting a two-iron approach to 15 feet. Elkington led for the only time in the match when Faldo had a bogey at the ninth but it was all square at the 10th, where the Australian put his tee shot into the trees.
Ekington's putting, so consistent against Daly in the first round, was the most vulnerable part of his game yesterday afternoon. At the 21st, he was 65 feet from the flag and took three putts to lose to a four; at the 25th he again had three putts, but his approach was unforgiveably short. Faldo's ball failed to reach the top tier yet he made the same mistake. But whereas Faldo got down in two putts, Elkington had another five on his card.
He did a similar thing on the ninth, where he left a seven-iron short and his first putt woefully short. Another three putts, another five and Faldo found himself five up. Elkington won the 30th and the 32nd, making a 40-footer at the par three, but any chance he had of stretching Faldo disappeared into the trees on the 33rd. He severely cut his drive and could only chip out sideways onto the fairway. Another five gave Faldo victory.
Over the back nine in the afternoon, Faldo went bogey, par, par, par, par, par and that was quite good enough thank you. If the crowd helped Faldo, it was not raucously evident. At the 31st, where his putt to win the hole came up fractionally short, Faldo took on the pose of a cheer-leading seal to extract a ripple of applause.
Woosnam's resistance against Frost melted at the 15th. He drove into the trees, came out sideways, and his third shot hit a man on the head. After losing the hole to go two down, Woosnam gave his ball to the spectator.
TODAY'S TEE-OFF TIMES (semi-finals): 8.45am and 1.15pm: N Faldo (GB) v D Frost (SA). 9.0 and 1.30: C Pavin (US) v C Montgomerie (GB).
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