Dougherty's rising star puts Montgomerie in the shade

One of England's rising stars, Nick Dougherty, showed a glimpse of his burgeoning potential with a round of 67 to take the lead from defending champion Colin Montgomerie at the Caltex Masters here yesterday.

One of England's rising stars, Nick Dougherty, showed a glimpse of his burgeoning potential with a round of 67 to take the lead from defending champion Colin Montgomerie at the Caltex Masters here yesterday.

Beginning three shots behind Montgomerie, the Liverpool golfer ended the day one ahead at nine under after an eagle, six birdies and three bogeys.

Having gone out on the back nine in 37, the 22-year-old hit a remarkable run of form with five birdies in six holes immediately after the turn.

His 18-foot putt on the par-four sixth - his 15th - took him level with Montgomerie at eight under but better was to come at the next when his second shot on the 616-yard par five finished within a foot of the pin.

Dougherty, a protégé of Nick Faldo, tapped in for an eagle to move two shots clear at 10 under but at the last he lagged a 35-foot putt a long way past the hole and missed the return to drop a shot.

Despite that disappointment his inspired inward 30 was enough to place him at the top of the leaderboard, and heading into the weekend with a real chance of his maiden European Tour win.

"I am playing well and I feel good in myself - I think rejuvenated is a good way to describe it," he said. "I had a lot of hype when I turned professional and the media coverage was fantastic but I didn't believe myself, deep down, that I was that good. I didn't have the experience and I was immature in a lot of ways in my golf game and, now I have learned a lot, I deserve to shoot these scores."

Montgomerie could not reproduce Thursday's bogey-free round as he dropped shots at the second and 10th, although he did record birdies at the third, fourth and 15th.

The 41-year-old hit an eight iron to 10 feet at the 16th but missed the chance and passed up an even better birdie opportunity from half the distance at the 18th to finish with a one-under-par round of 71.

That left him two shots ahead of third-placed Thomas Bjorn, who recorded the round of the day with a 66. The Dane, starting at the 10th after Thursday's level-par round, opened with two birdies and picked up three further shots between 14 and 16 before a three on the short par-four 18th sent him out in just 30. Another birdie at the fourth briefly put him level with Montgomerie but he fell back again with a bogey at the 193-yard fifth.

Lee Westwood's indifferent form in his first tournament of the year continued as he recorded a one-over-par 73 to leave him one under after 36 holes. He began in impressive fashion with an eagle three on his second hole, the par-five 11th, but then dropped shots at the 17th and 18th to turn in 36.

The Worksop golfer then hit seven straight pars before an erratic finish brought a birdie two at the eighth and a double-bogey at the par-four ninth.

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