Golf: Monty obliged to call it a day

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If talk of Jose Maria Olazabal's retirement is premature, that of Colin Montgomerie from the Peugeot Spanish Open, sadly, is not. Montgomerie was forced to withdraw after a first-round 74 due to the ill-health of his three-month-old daughter, Venetia.

The baby was admitted to hospital with an infection last weekend, and her condition had not improved. A statement said: "Colin is very disappointed to pull out of such a prestigious event, where he is a past champion, but his family comes first in all circumstances."

Earlier, the three-time European No 1 found the sub-standard quality of the Club de Campo greens little help in his search for a better putting touch. Montgomerie holed only one notable putt, from 12 feet for a birdie at the 14th, but missed a three-footer and three-putted twice.

"The greens were soft, spongy, spiky and heel-printy," Monty said. "They seemed to have a mind of their own."

Torrential rain during tournament preparations has been the culprit, but the greens were of less concern to Iain Pyman. The 23-year-old former amateur champion from Leeds returned a six-under 66, despite being interrupted for 65 minutes by lightning, and three times by mobile phones ringing - once while he attempted to hole out from two feet.

"I putted out and then laughed at the guy," Pyman said. "The greens were not as bad as I thought they would be in the afternoon. I got the pace early on. You had to roll the ball right up close."

Meanwhile, in San Sebastian, Olazabal, who has not played since last September due to rheumatoid arthritis in both feet, has started his own four-day trial to establish his chances of playing in the Volvo PGA Championship in two weeks and next month's US Open. If it goes well, the 30-year-old may even ask for a last-minute invitation to the Benson & Hedges International next week.

As to Olazabal never playing again, his manager, Sergio Gomez, said: "I know what I have said, and I know what he has said in interviews, and the rest is speculation. Jose Maria has good peace of mind because he knows he can play half a season. He is close to the 90 per cent fitness he has set as a target to come back.''

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 25