The Scot hit the form that made him the European No 1 last year to join the Yorkshireman Mark Roe and Zimbabwe's Mark McNulty on 207, nine under par. Like Roe, Montgomerie had to play two rounds yesterday after heavy rain and thunderstorms had caused havoc with the second round.
After shooting a 71 in the morning, which left him four shots behind McNulty, he shook off his putting problems with a round that boasted seven birdies. He said: 'I changed my putter for the third time because I was getting desperate just to sink one putt from four feet. But I knocked one in at the opening hole, which gave me confidence, and then when I holed a 30 footer at the second for a birdie I was away. One round doesn't make a summer, but it has made feel a lot better.'
Montgomerie had only one hiccup in his 66. He came to the final green in semi-darkness to find a neon sign flashing on and off by the side of the putting surface. He insisted it was turned off before he would make his stroke. 'I was looking straight into it and it should not have been on in the dark.'
Roe shot 69 in the third round, with four birdies on the back nine, while McNulty, who only had to play four holes of his second round yesterday, had an easier day than his rivals. Although he had no bogeys in his third round of 70 he made only two birdies.
More spectacular was Richard Boxall, the 33-year-old from Camberley, who began and ended his third round of 70 one shot off the lead. When he fell five shots behind McNulty and Montgomerie after 11 holes his cause looked doomed, but he birdied four of the last seven holes to come back into contention.
Bernhard Langer shared joint-fourth place with Boxall on 208 after a workmanlike 69 and Jose Maria Olazabal, the US Masters champion, is on 210. Seve Ballesteros, winner of the Benson and Hedges International last week, is out of the running on 216.
Earlier, Sandy Lyle shot 77 in the second round and missed the cut, made at 147, by three shots while there were nine Britons - Ronan Rafferty, Marcus Wills, Haydn Selby-Green, Scott Watson, Paul Affleck, Carl Suneson, Mark Davis, Ian Spencer and Martin Poxon - among 12 who pulled out of the tournament without completing the second round.Reuse content