Golf: Montgomerie charge falls just short

Andy Farrell reports from the Forest of Arden

Should any further proof that Colin Montgomerie has cracked Europe be required, his weekend performance in the British Masters will do nicely. The Scot gave Greg Turner a seven-stroke advantage at half-way but closed to within one of the winner by scoring rounds of 67 and 63, a combined 14 under par.

Montgomerie's timing could not have been better with the Ryder Cup starting on Friday. "With all due respect, this is easy," he said. "Next week is a different ball game." He did not think the Americans would be too concerned, but added: "Seve will be delighted. He was worried I was playing too much."

The form of Europe's Ryder Cup players here perked up visibly over the last two days, although done as much as Monty, on a course where he has previously finished first once and second twice. As significant as the two 15-footers he holed at the last two holes - for eagle at the 17th and for a birdie-two at the last - were, no moment was more crucial than when he got up and down at the ninth on Friday to make the cut.

"I had a six footer, left-to-right and I knew I had to hole it," Montgomerie said. "I started to relax and I play my best when I am relaxed. I am not frightened to go low and I have had a lot of low scores this year, especially on Sundays. Sunday is pay day and you don't want to go backwards."

The biggest payout of pounds 125,000 went to a man whose concerns this week will be solely with his wife, Jane, who is expecting their first child. Turner, the brother of former Kiwi cricketer Glenn, achieved his fourth European title by getting up and down from a bunker at the last, after the sizeable advantage he had enjoyed for most of the day had been cut to one with a bogey at the 17th.

Nevertheless, Montgomerie's hopes of a fifth money title received a substantial boost. "I enjoy my position in Europe and I don't want to lose it," he said. "Whatever I do next year, whether I go to America or not, I would like to get five in a row. No one has done it before and possibly no one will do it again."

The last thing Montgomerie wants to do now is spend three full days practising before Friday and he will ask captain Ballesteros for a day off, or the chance just to play nine holes on Wednesday and Thursday. "I love Valderrama and I'm obviously playing well," he said.

"The American team is not as strong as we think it is," he added. "There are a lot of players who are beatable, although I'm not sure I want to face Davis Love or Justin Leonard. The guy we all want is Tiger Woods. We have nothing to lose and we are playing Valderrama and not Augusta."

About the only team member unhappy with his game is Jose Maria Olazabal. This, however, is usually the case when he is anything more than two per cent below his best. Ollie's mum will, as on previous occasions, be joining him at Valderrama, which may further aggrieve Earl Woods, Tiger's dad, who has threatened not to travel to Spain because he has not been invited to join the official US party.

"I can unequivocally state that I'm more responsible for Tiger being where he is today and have made a bigger contribution to the team than all the wives and girlfriends combined," Woods Snr said.

Olazabal is certainly hoping his mother will be allowed on the fairways with the wives and girlfriends. "It will be the safest place for her," he said.

BRITISH MASTERS (Forest of Arden, Warwickshire) Final scores (GB and Irl unless stated):

275 G Turner (NZ) 68 71 66 70.

276 C Montgomerie 72 74 67 63.

279 M Roe 65 74 70 70.

280 R Russell 64 75 71 70, T Bjorn (Den) 69 72 66 73.

281 P Price 71 68 72 70, S Torrance 69 75 66 71.

282 P Sjoland (Swe) 68 74 71 69, A Cabrera (Arg) 71 75 67 69, R Allenby (Aus) 71 73 69 69.

283 D Clarke 71 72 70 70, P O'Malley (Aus) 69 69 72 73, M Jonzon (Swe) 70 72 67 74.

284 K Eriksson (Swe) 70 73 73 68, R Goosen (SA) 72 69 73 70, P Quirici (Swi) 70 74 70 70, S Struver (Ger) 69 73 71 71, M James 71 71 67 75.

285 R Boxall 71 72 75 67, J L Guepy (Fr) 74 70 69 72, R Claydon 68 76 69 72.

286 P Hedblom (Swe) 67 75 75 69, J Townsend (US) 71 71 72 72, D Edlund (Swe) 69 75 70 72, S Ames (Tri) 71 72 71 72, G Orr 70 71 72 73, T Gogele (Ger) 73 72 68 73, D Gilford 71 70 69 76.

287 D Chopra (Swe) 67 75 74 71, JM Olazabal (Sp) 72 73 70 72, S Scahill (NZ) 70 72 73 72, B Davis 69 73 72 73, S Luna (Sp) 72 72 70 73.

288 I Garbutt 73 72 73 70, P Baker 74 72 72 70, R Rafferty 71 71 75 71, G Brand Jnr 71 73 73 71, M Davis 71 69 75 73, W Westner (Rsa) 69 74 72 73, D J Russell 72 71 70 75, G Evans 71 73 68 76.

289 I Garrido (Sp) 76 70 76 67, A Sandywell 71 75 74 69, E Canonica (It) 71 70 76 72, P Lawrie 69 76 72 72, R Drummond 72 74 71 72, C Mason 70 76 70 73.

290 E Darcy 70 76 72 72, P Lonard (Aus) 75 70 73 72, M Olander (Swe) 68 7178 73, J Lomas 68 77 71 74.

291 W Riley (Aus) 70 72 78 71, C Rocca (It) 75 71 73 72, R Coles 72 74 73 72, R Chapman 75 68 74 74, J Van de Velde (Fr) 73 71 72 75, J Sandelin (Swe) 69 73 71 78.

292 I Woosnam 73 73 75 71, A Sherborne 72 74 74 72, R Green (Aus) 72 71 76 73, D Borrego (Sp) 72 72 75 73, T Johnstone (Zim) 70 73 74 75, A Binaghi (It) 72 74 70 66.

293 D Cole (Aus) 72 70 77 74, A Coltart 71 73 75 74, J Rivero (Sp) 71 72 75 75, P Golding 70 74 72 77. 294 M Anglert (Swe) 73 72 73 76. 295 P Mitchell 75 71 74 75. 298 B Tinning (Den) 70 75 80 73.

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