Golf: Montgomerie reveals pain of media atack

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The Independent Online
IF Colin Montgomerie is to break his duck on the US Tour this week, the Bay Hill Invitational would be as good a place as any. Hosted by Arnold Palmer, the event features an unusual winner's trophy, namely a full replica of a 16th century Scottish claymore sword featuring the cross of St Andrew on the blade.

Montgomerie would not get to keep the sword, but even the miniature letter- opening version that the winner gets to take home would arm him against the sharper scalpels of the American press.

Even as he was getting off the plane in Miami two weeks ago, Sports Illustrated magazine welcomed the Scot to the Florida run-up to next month's US Masters with an odious piece of writing describing Monty as "the Goon from Troon'', "golf's Gael-force windbag'' and "a firth-class jerk''.

So over the top was the article, Montgomerie has actually gained the sympathy of the American galleries. "If there is a blessing in disguise, I've had a lot of support from it," Monty said. "I just wish it had not happened in the first place.

"I've become immune to things like this. I have to as my job is in the public eye. Unfortunately, my family are not and that's what hurts. It was a cynical piece written well before I got here. I thought it was very unfair.''

Montgomerie's 47th appearance in a US Tour event was delayed until today, however, as lightning and heavy rain interrupted the first round. In what play was possible, only eight players finished with Bernhard Langer returning a four-under 68 to lie three behind Robert Damron. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker will resume today also four under.

Taking advantage of the early still conditions and receptive greens, the German had a birdie at the first from 15 feet and at all four of the par-five holes. Langer's only dropped shot came at the ninth, where his drive finished under the lip of a bunker. His round could have been even better as he lipped out five times on the greens and saw his chip for eagle at the fourth hit the flag.

Damron, who has lived by the 10th green for 19 years, since he was six, did not make a bogey in his 65. Having already been interrupted for three hours and 40 minutes at the turn, he had only just putted out at 18 when another storm hit.

This is Damron's second appearance on home turf. His first was not a happy one. "My chest hurt so badly for the first three holes last year I thought I would have to withdraw," he said.