Golf: Montgomerie cuts out as Brand steps in: European Masters

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The Independent Online
THE august march of Colin Montgomerie came to an inglorious end here yesterday when he made a hurried exit from the European Masters. Montgomerie, for the first time in Europe this year, missed the cut and he could not wait to retreat from the mountain.

Asked for his reaction Big Monty said: 'I'm delighted. I'm not bothered. I'm going home to relax.' After successive victories in the English Open and the German Open, which put him past pounds 500,000 and made him the No 1 in the Order of Merit, Montgomerie failed to produce another peak performance 5,000ft up the Alps.

He shot 69 in the second round to finish at two under par for the championship, but the scoring here is so low, despite relentless bad weather, that it was not good enough. Actually, he could only assume it was not good enough for nobody could say with absolute certainty what the cut was. This is because the second round, played in rain and cloud cover, could not be completed. They will try to squeeze a quart into a pint pot today.

The projected cut is three under, as it was last year, and Seve Ballesteros, for one, had an uncomfortable night's sleep. He holed from 25 feet at the last to get to three under. That is 11 strokes behind Gordon Brand Jnr who has had two 65s to lead at 14 under par. Brand Jnr is two in front of fellow Scotsman Sam Torrance and the Argentine Eduardo Romero and four in front of the Englishman Martin Gates. Another Englishman, Nick Faldo, also had a good day coming in with a 66 in bad light, and he is at nine under.

During the first round, when he shot 73, Montgomerie announced to anybody within listening distance that Crans, a swish, Swiss ski resort, was no place to hold a golf tournament, and certainly not the venue to launch the qualifying process for Europe's team for the Ryder Cup match against the United States in Rochester, New York, next September. Unfortunately, with the weather threatening all sorts of chaos here, he has a point.

When he missed a 10-foot putt at the last - a putt that probably would have kept him in the tournament - Montgomerie packed his bags and descended the mountain for Geneva airport. There he would have found Paul Way drowning his sorrows, although the circumstances surrounding the Englishman's departure were very different.

Way was in fine form yesterday, making five birdies in nine holes and he went to the turn in 31, five under for the day. When he looked at the scoreboard it informed him that he was three under for the championship. Way's heart sank. He knew that he was two under. When he checked he found that he had signed for a 74 in the first round instead of a 75 and he traced back the discrepancy to the 14th hole on Thursday. He had a six there but for some reason a five appeared on his card.

Yesterday, his round half-completed, Way immediately disqualified himself and walked off the course. In the mercenary world of professional sport, this was an act of selflessness in the Sidney Carton class. What made it all the more honourable is that Way (only he knew of the mistake) has missed the cut seven times in his last 10 tournaments and is languishing 130th in the Order of Merit. Had this happened in August rather than September, Way would have been a contender for the Johnnie Walker golfer of the month award. It went, incidentally, to Montgomerie.

Most of the rounds here, with puddles forming on the fairways and greens, have been taking in excess of five hours. With casual water at every turn, players are allowed to lift and place but the worst bottleneck occurs at the seventh hole. A par four of only 301 yards, normally it offers spectacular scoring opportunities not to mention spectacular views.

Yesterday as the rain clouds scudded across the fairway, it was impossible at times to see anything but the hand in front of your face. Thus, in cloud cuckoo-land, players were forced to wait until the green became visible and a big backlog developed. Still, every cloud has a silver lining. The seventh tee is situated right outside the Melezes Hotel and it did a roaring trade with players and caddies who had time to kill. So much time, in fact, that in addition to consuming sandwiches and mugs of hot chocolate they could have rented rooms and taken a nap. With a hot water bottle.

CANON EUROPEAN MASTERS (Crans-sur-Sierre, Swit): Leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated) (Round to be completed today. Seven players still on course when play called off because of bad light): 130 G Brand Jnr 65 65. 132 E Romero (Arg) 64 68; S Torrance 67 65. 134 M Gates 69 65. 135 A Sherborne 69 66; F Regard (Fr) 70 65; P Fulke (Swe) 70 65; S Lyle 68 67; N Faldo 69 66; D Clarke 66 69. 136 M Scarpa (Italy) 68 68; R McFarlane 70 66; S Struver (Ger) 69 67; H Clark 66 70; B Lane 67 69; J Van de Velde (Fr) 68 68; S Luna (Sp) 69 67. 137 R Goosen (SA) 68 69; P-U Johansson (Swe) 69 68; C Pavin (US) 70 67; P Mitchell 70 67; M Pinero (Sp) 69 68; S Tinning (Den) 69 68; R Chapman 69 68; P Walton 67i 70; J Spence 69 68. 138 V Fernandez (Arg) 68 70; M Farry (Fr) 69 69; M A Martin (Sp) 69 69; C Mason 70 68; G Orr 70 68; T Levet (Fra) 74 64; *F Valera (Sp) 67 71; J Hawkes (SA) 70 68; A Bossert (Swit) 67 71; J Haeggman (Swe) 66 72.

*denotes amateur