Golf: Montgomerie returns renewed

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COLIN MONTGOMERIE arrived in Paris yesterday intent on putting last week's disappointment behind him. The Scot, 18th at the US Open last week and given a rough ride by hecklers, hopes to use the Peugeot French Open, which starts today at Le Golf National near Paris, to bounce back after failing in his attempt to win his first major.

He and everybody else in the field, however, has had to accept a pay cut this week, with prize- money dropping pounds 500,000. "It's very much a one-off situation here caused by the World Cup," David Garland, the tournament director, said. "Some of the usual support sponsors are involved in the soccer."

It means Montgomerie cannot reclaim the European No 1 spot from the resting Lee Westwood this Sunday. The winner's cheque is down from pounds 100,000 to pounds 83,333, and that would leave the Scot still pounds 4,000 short of Westwood at the top of an Order of Merit he has won for the last five seasons.

Scotland's World Cup exit yesterday coincided with Montgomerie's 35th birthday. "Not quite the present I was hoping for," he said after crossing the Channel on a private jet yesterday morning. "They didn't perform, and I only hope England can qualify now to retain a British interest. As for me and the US Open, I've just got to write it off and start again. I'll get it one day for sure, and what happened outside the ropes has not changed the fact that I've always loved playing in America.

"In general the people there have been very appreciative. It's just the loud minority and it's difficult to do anything about that. What can you do when I am personally blamed for the loss of the American team [at the Ryder Cup]?

"I'm obviously seen as a threat, and it's a back-handed compliment in a way, though it's difficult to see it as that at the time. Every player I came into contact with was very supportive. They were as much embarrassed as everyone else was."