Montgomerie battles to keep scandal at bay

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The Independent Online

In the morning he was apologising for "the hurt I have caused my family"; in the afternoon Colin Montgomerie was moving into contention for the Wales Open. Of all the bizarre days which have filled this Scot's career very few have rivalled the one witnessed yesterday.

The billing had said Montgomerie would be at the venue of the Ryder Cup checking out the Europeans who may or may not make his side in four months' time. As it proved he was here facing questions about the private-life confession he made in a national newspaper. For five hours on a Twenty Ten Course bathed in sunshine he was able to stall becoming still further submerged in yet another extra-marital scandal involving a high-profile golfer.

Smiling as if he did not have a care in the world, the 47-year-old shot a second successive 70 to stand on two-under, four off Marcel Siem and Andrew Dodt. As he said "it's been the first time I've been up there for a while". But the press corps inevitably wanted to focus on what it said in the Daily Mirror, not on the leaderboard.

"I've said everything I have to say," said Montgomerie, after initially refusing to talk about the story with Sky Sports. "The crowd were very supportive and it's up to Gaynor [Knowles, his wife] and I to work things out. That's what we are doing and we are looking forward to welcoming everybody here to Wales in October with a win." When asked if it would have an impact on his captaincy he replied: "No, not at all. Not one bit."

A little earlier Thomas Bjorn – in third on five-under – had effectively said the same in his role of chairman on the Players Committee. Why should it have any impact? Well, cynics will point out how Montgomerie has repeatedly stressed the importance of the wives at the Ryder Cup. Furthermore when commenting on Tiger Woods' own problems he pointed out how awkward the world No 1 may feel in this atmosphere. Montgomerie can only pray he does not come in for even a thousandth of the scrutiny that Woods has been under. Monty is not in Tiger's league fame-wise – but the timing is awful.

Inevitably the big man's predicament would overshadow the second round. But there were sporting storylines daring to divert a little of the attention. Luke Donald followed up a 75 with a 65 to move to two-under, so further cementing his reputation as the new comeback man of golf, having prevailed in Madrid on Sunday, a week after blowing the BMW PGA Championship.

While Donald was celebrating golf's topsy-turvy nature, it had left Paul Lawrie in utter despair. The 1999 Open champion was on four-under and in fourth when he came to his 10th hole (the second). On the par five in three, Lawrie managed to take eight putts before eventually signing up for an 11. In the space of a few minutes he had dropped 60 places and was heading home. "Ridiculous," said the Scot as he reflected on putting off the green twice into a hollow and taking a few more to get back up the hill. "Quite ridiculous." It summed up the day.