Golf: Roe a Norman conqueror

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND are clearly at home in Scotland. Especially at the home of golf. In beating Australia here yesterday, they recorded their third 3-0 win out of three in the Alfred Dunhill Cup this year, an unprecedented feat in the 10-year history of the event. Their semi-final this morning will pitch them against the United States, who beat them in last year's final.

Barry Lane showed the way yesterday in beating Robert Allenby, Howard Clark led the scoring with a seven-under-par 65 to account for Steve Elkington, and Mark Roe hogged the honours by beating Greg Norman. 'It's nice to have kept a clean sheet going into tomorrow,' Clark said, employing football-style vernacular. 'Today was quite a surprise really, but we were really fired up and we took them apart.'

You almost expected him to describe it as a game of two halves, except it was not. England had control of all three matches by the turn and they finished a cumulative 13 under par - unlucky for Norman and Co. In this golfing Ashes, the Australians were well and truly dusted. 'I knew standing on the first tee that a par round wouldn't be good enough against Greg,' Roe said of his triumph. 'It's always nice to beat one of your heroes.'

As ever, Norman was gracious in adversity. 'They beat us good,' he said. 'They deserve to be in the semis. I didn't make any putts and Mark didn't make any mistakes.' Clark added: 'We're delighted to have got through. From now on, everything's a bonus.' In fact, a bonus of pounds 100,000 apiece if they win the title, which they did in 1987 and 1992.

In other round-robin matches over the Old Course yesterday, South Africa beat Scotland to win Group 3 and the United States prevailed over New Zealand 3-0 while the Irish could only beat Japan 2-1. Sometimes it seems competitors in the Dunhill Cup have as much need of a calculator as a putter.

No fancy computations were needed to confirm the fate of the Scots. Andrew Coltart won for the third day running, but Gordon Brand Jnr could not hold the US Open champion, Ernie Els, whose 68 included an eagle at the 12th. In the match between the respective captains, Colin Montgomerie was beaten by David Frost,

71-74.

Monty's demise was somewhat emblematic of Scotland's dismal fortunes in this event. They have never won it and - much worse - have twice lost to England in the final. Europe's leading money-winner was two shots to the good after four holes against Frost and three to the bad after nine. He bogeyed four holes in a row from the fifth - twice driving into bunkers and twice taking three putts - and then Frost birdied the ninth.

Whereas Els had just driven the green on the 12th, Montgomerie drove into the greenery, one of the few clumps of vegetation on the venerable links. He made another bogey while Frost notched up his fifth consecutive three. Four shots ahead playing the notorious 17th, Frost drove sensibly left and hit his second shot safely right, settled for a bogey five to Montgomerie's four, and was happy to halve the last in pars.

'We are obviously very pleased to have beaten your favourite team up here,' Frost said. 'I played very badly,' Montgomerie said. 'I should have been the one to pull through. It's a shame for Andrew. He played superbly all week.' Coltart, 39th in the Order of Merit, concurred: 'This has shown me that I'm probably better than I thought.'

Yoshinori Mizumaki may be better than we thought. Ranked 113th in the world and widely regarded as a sop to the Japanese sponsors, Toyota, at next week's World Match Play Championship, he demonstrated yesterday that he may be something more than a token presence at Wentworth. He shot 64, the round of the day, to beat Philip Walton by six shots. That point for Japan condemned the Irish to finishing second best to the Americans, whom they had beaten 2-1 on Friday.

South Africa's opponents in this morning's semi-finals will be Canada, who surprisingly emerged triumphant from a group including Zimbabwe, Germany and Sweden. The crucial point was provided by Dave Barr, who had beaten Nick Price by a shot on Friday and then did the same to Bernhard Langer yesterday. This morning he takes on Els. In 15 matches in this competition, the 42-year-old US Tour journeyman has recorded 11 victories. No doubt the Molsons were on Barr last night.

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