Golf: Montgomerie is feeling secure

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The Independent Online
ORGANISERS OF the US Open have stepped up security for 30 of the leading contenders in a bid to prevent a repeat of the abuse suffered by Colin Montgomerie in the past two championships in Washington and San Francisco. The Scot is one of those targeted for extra security with police, state troopers and undercover agents following his group.

Up to 60,000 spectators will attend each day, but the non-metropolitan setting of the North Carolina Sandhills should help while alcohol sales will be restricted more than in the past.

Last year a local radio station incited spectators to heckle Montgomerie and a local paper wrote about the `Foul Monty'. "I believe Colin was told to try to ignore anybody shouting things out," said Mike Davis, director of championship relations for the US Golf Association. "At the beginning, I gather, there was banter back and forth and that was exactly what some of the knuckleheads in the crowd wanted. One fella who was causing a problem had his credentials taken and was escorted off the grounds. We would do the same this time.

"We're very concerned about players' security, particularly for Colin. He has been so kind to the USGA and the US Open in speaking up for it and saying how much he likes the event and it is our hope to try to make the experience for him as good as it can be. But you get to the point where there is only so much you can do."

Montgomerie does not think it will be a problem this week. "Pinehurst is purely a golfing destination," he said. "You wouldn't come here if you weren't interested in golf. In San Francisco, a few people who knew nothing about the game went to the course and had too much to drink. That was the root of the problem."

As far as distractions go, Tiger Woods and David Duval are far worse off. Duval has not been able to play since last Wednesday after burning his right thumb and forefinger while making a cup of coffee.

"My preparations have been interrupted but I feel the hand will be fine," Duval said. "People say I'm crazy for going snowboarding but I have never had a problem doing that and then I almost take myself out making a cup of coffee."

Meanwhile, Woods's father, Earl, who is suffering from prostate cancer, has been quoted in a magazine saying "Scotland sucks" and that golf would never have been invented if "the soul brothers" lived there. "We wouldn't have been stupid enough to go out in that weather and play a silly-ass game and freeze to death."

Earl Woods has denied making the remarks but the journalist who conducted the interview is adamant that he did during a taped telephone conversation earlier this year.

Lee Westwood, who will play in the same group as Woods in the first two days, is disappointed that the Pinehurst No 2 course is lacking in the sort of five-inch rough familiar to most US Opens.

Like Montgomerie, Westwood prides himself on driving the ball deadly straight, but the fairways here are more generous than usual and the rough no more than three inches. Should yesterday's rain continue, as forecast for today, the greens will also be more receptive to shots from the rough.

"I don't know why somebody has the impression it's going to suit European players," said Westwood. "That's just a proviso in case one of us wins. We have nothing like this in Europe."