Golf: Montgomerie rides storm

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COLIN MONTGOMERIE defied blizzard conditions to play five of the most remarkable holes of his life high in the Swiss Alps yesterday.

The Scot finished his second round in the Canon European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre with five successive birdies to open up a three-stroke lead. Play had already been called off for the day when Montgomerie and his playing partner, Ian Woosnam, exercised their right to finish the hole they were on - in their case the ultra-long ninth.

Montgomerie needed his caddie's map to see where the flag was, hit a nine-iron to 10 feet and holed the putt for a 70 and 11-under-par aggregate of 133.

'I don't know how I did it,' he said. 'Apart from not being able to see, we were absolutely frozen.' He had played those last five holes in a mere 15 strokes whereas Woosnam, having gone to the turn in 33 to be joint leader, played them in 24 shots and was suddenly eight adrift.

Their rounds ended more than eight hours after they had begun, since there had been two earlier hold-ups. Six hours were lost in all and 30 players, Seve Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle included, will start their second rounds at dawn today. It was still a good day for Ballesteros, though. His wife Carmen gave birth to their second son during the night and unless he improves on his opening 72 he will be seeing his new offspring soon.

Montgomerie started the day one ahead after scoring a nine-under-par 63, but after 13 holes had dropped to six under with bogeys on the 12th, third and fourth.

He pitched to three feet at the 345-yard fifth, to eight feet on the next and then came out of sand to five inches on the 301-yard seventh for yet another birdie.

Woosnam ran up a double-bogey six there by fluffing a chip and taking three putts from 10 feet. He then saw Montgomerie birdie the last two holes. 'I hit a seven-iron to four feet on the eighth, but couldn't really see the hole because of the hail and snow. It was horrible, but the putt luckily went in,' Montgomerie said.

'The siren to suspend play went just after we had driven off at the ninth. I would have stopped, but Woosie said he was going to finish, so I did too.'

CANON EUROPEAN MASTERS (Crans-sur-Sierre, Swit) Completed second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 133 C Montgomerie 63 70. 136 M Lanner (Swe) 68 68. 138 J Spence 67 71. 139 P Hall 67 72; H Selby-Green 68 71; C Van der Velde (Neth) 66 73; M Hallberg (Swe) 68 71; E Romero (Arg) 69 70; S Grappasonni (It) 69 70. 140 I Palmer (SA) 72 68; B Langer (Ger) 72 68. 141 J Sewell 66 75; J M Carriles (Sp) 69 72; I Woosnam 67 74; G Levenson (SA) 70 71; D J Russell 70 71; J Payne 69 72. 142 M Mouland 69 73; S Hamill 70 72; *D Bieri (Swit) 72 70; M Pinero (Sp) 73 69; R Boxall 68 74; F Lindgren (Swe) 71 71; E Darcy 69 73; G Brand Jnr 72 70; M Mackenzie 69 73. 143 D Clarke 74 69; S Field 69 74; H Clark 71 72; J Parnevik (Swe) 72 71; J Van de Velde (Fr) 73 70; S McAllister 69 74. 144 P Quirici (Swit) 70 74; M Allen (US) 68 76; K Waters 70 74; R Rafferty 73 71.

* denotes amateur