Montgomerie a lost soul on the lonely road

By his own standards when under stress, Colin Montgomerie was chatty last night after crashing out of the Open here. He said two sentences. At least that's all he said to a not particularly expectant media who had gathered to meet him off the 18th green.

He missed the cut with a two-round tally of four-over par after a hellish spell on the back nine resulted in him compiling a three-over 75. His exit, after his runners-up spot at the US Open, was the biggest shock on a day when a clutch of big-name Ryder Cup players from Britain and Ireland failed to make the weekend.

Darren Clarke hit an agonising 82, a score with roots in a bunker that the Ulsterman could not escape on the second hole. He finished seven over, and will now take indefinite leave of the game to be with his wife, Heather, who is struggling in her fight with breast cancer. Padraig Harrington is also on the way home, after finishing five over, and so is David Howell, who finished six over.

"I can't hole a putt," said Montgomerie. "Every round I play, I should be four or five shots lower." And with that, he took his cap and hurled it into the recorder's hut.

Earlier this week, John Daly, Monty's playing partner these past two days, said that he believed it was the Scot's "destiny" to win a major. What with all the harrowing near misses, not least at Winged Foot last month, perhaps the fates will still one day conspire to make that happen. But not here. Not this year.

It would be instructive to send Montgomerie and Daly out on the town together, maybe to a smoky room where they could chew the fat - though maybe not about Daly's howling triple-bogey on the 18th yesterday. That left him one-over overall when the cut was just two strokes lower.

Maybe Daly could persuade Monty to put his feelings in song, as he does. Daly's "lost soul on a lonely road" might apply, although obviously not with the opening line "I lost my mom three years ago, dad pulled a gun on me."

Perhaps Monty could just stick to the facts of yesterday. "I lost my plot on the unlucky 13th, bogey, bogey, double-bogey, bogey, aahhhhhhhhh."

That, in essence, is how he went out - by dropping five shots in four holes, starting with one on the 13th where a wayward tee shot landed in the rough. Things fell to pieces from there, with little going right, especially on the greens.

One Englishman who had a great day was Robert Rock. The 29-year-old world No 503 was far from steady early on, bogeying three of the first four holes. But then Rock rocked, with an eagle and three birdies, to strike a blow for minnows as the mighty fell around him. Rock's two 69s so far, for six-under overall, still leave him six shots off Tiger Woods' pace, but you have to be in it to win it. He is, where so many others have departed.

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