Golf: Woosnam leaves Monty in the clear

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Colin Montgomerie is now virtually assured of being the European No 1 for the fourth successive year after his only challenger, Ian Woosnam, missed the half-way cut yesterday at the Linde German Masters in Berlin.

Montgomerie shot a second-round 67 for an aggregate of 137. He is four shots behind the leader, Ireland's Paul McGinley, who is 11 under par after a 67.

Woosnam, who had a 75 for a level-par 144 and missed the cut by one shot, was in no doubt that his last chance of catching Montgomerie had gone. The 38-year-old Welshman, who insisted it was his "shocking putting" and not his troublesome back that was to blame for his poor score, said: "Well, that's it. It's all over. I can go home now."

Montgomerie is pounds 143,347.42 ahead of the Welshman in the Volvo Rankings and has only to finish in the top 40 in Berlin tomorrow to win enough prize money to be out of reach. Then it will not matter what happens in the last ranking event, the Volvo Masters at Valderrama, later this month. It would mean that Montgomerie has equalled the record of Peter Oosterhuis, who was also European No 1 four years running from 1971 to 1974.

The three Irishmen, McGinley, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington, who will represent their country in the Dunhill Cup at St Andrews next week, were all in top form yesterday.

McGinley is the outright leader; Clarke - after an almost flawless round of six birdies and one eagle in his 64 - is lying joint second with England's Paul Eales on 134; and Harrington is sharing fourth place on 135 after a 67.

Both McGinley and Harrington had six birdies and one bogey in their rounds yesterday and Harrington is still leading the charge for the Rookie of the Year title. Only Denmark's Thomas Bjorn looks likely to press him for it as Scotland's Raymond Russell, the only other contender, missed the cut after a disastrous 78 for a 149.

Eales had five birdies and 13 pars in his 67 to share second place but the Open champion, Tom Lehman, shot 73 for 144 and, like Woosnam, missed the cut by one shot. Seve Ballesteros is on 142 after a second-round 72 and Bernhard Langer shot 69 for 140. Both qualified comfortably for the last two rounds.

n England's Laura Davies scored a hole in one on the way to a two-stroke lead in the the Takara World Invitational in Sanbu, Japan, yesterday. Seeking her sixth victory of the year, she had a two-under-par 70 to edge ahead of Ayako Okamoto, Ikuyo Shiotani and Takasu. Davies' ace, the fourth of her career, came on the 154-yard third hole with a nine-iron.