Golf: Monty stays clear of injury blight

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The Independent Online
NOT THE least significant reason for Colin Montgomerie's enduring success is his injury-free record. "In my 11 years as a pro, I have never had to pull out of a tournament for that reason, touch wood," the Scot said. Few others can say the same - and certainly not Ian Woosnam, who yesterday withdrew from the Compass English Open.

The Welshman damaged tendons in his fingers when he trapped his hand in a door while playing with his children on Tuesday. He may be out for up to four to six weeks. "He is very disappointed," said George O'Grady, the deputy executive director of the European tour and the event's promoter.

"Ian felt he was showing a bit of form and could win in the next few weeks to boost his chances of playing in the Ryder Cup."

Woosnam, who finished 26th in the Volvo PGA Championship after closing with a 67 on Monday, is currently 27th on the Cup points list. The 41- year-old is not exempt for the US Open for the first time in 11 years but was hoping to pick up points while others travelled to America.

Lee Westwood maintains he is clear of the shoulder injury he suffered from last month, but put his lowly finish at Wentworth down to lack of competitive rounds of late. Having lost two of the titles he won last year, the New Orleans Classic and the TPC of Europe, the 26-year-old is again the defending champion.

Westwood's ambitions are more modest, however. "I need to find my rhythm," he said. "It would be nice just to play four rounds, get into contention and play under a bit of pressure again before the US Open.

"The injury has been a set-back but sometimes you have to reassess things. I am not disappointed with how this season has gone. I won in Macao, was leading the Masters with nine holes to play and had my highest finish in a major. That's what makes me look forward to the US Open."

Montgomerie is also looking forward to Pinehurst and could not be happier with life, after winning twice in the last three weeks to go back to the top of the order of merit. "Pinehurst is in the background, I'm here to win the English Open," Monty said.

The Scot claims to have visited the physiotherapitst only once and is careful to avoid potential injury. The family went on a ski-ing holiday at Christmas but Monty restricted his activities to a bit of sledging with his three-year-old. Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen have suffered damaged limbs on the slopes.

"I'm 35 and I feel I have six years left so I am very careful," Montgomerie said. "I'd be damn silly if I did something detrimental to my game. I need my hands, I need my legs. I have a strong back and that's key in our game. I don't do anything that might go wrong."

In the States, Jack Nicklaus will take part in the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, this weekend, but has announced he will miss the Open at Carnoustie.

Nicklaus, who underwent hip replacement surgery in January, broke a run of 146 consecutive majors when he withdrew from Royal Birkdale last year. He has said he is planning to play in all four majors next year, though, when the Open returns to St Andrews.

The 59-year-old is scheduled to play in the US Senior Open and the Senior Players Championship in the two weeks prior to Carnoustie. "That would be three weeks in a row," Nicklaus said. "That's just more than I can play. I said that's just crazy to even think about. Two weeks in a row is going to be tough."

The Memorial was Nicklaus's target date to return to competitive golf but his rehabilitation went so well he played in a seniors event two weeks ago.

Sergio Garcia, who is attempting to gain his tour cards on both sides of the Atlantic, plays his second event in the States following his third place in the Byron Nelson Classic, while David Howell, who has entered the final qualifying for the US Open, makes his debut in America.


Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par

1 347 4 10 412 4

2 560 5 11 211 3

3 443 4 12 540 5

4 187 3 13 414 4

5 464 4 14 395 4

6 189 3 15 406 4

7 361 4 16 185 3

8 465 4 17 496 5

9 550 5 18 391 4

Out: 3566 36 In: 3450 36

Total: 7016 72