Montgomerie faces trials of life beyond 50

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie has admitted that he may have to rely on being picked as a wild card by Europe's captain, Bernhard Langer, to play in September's Ryder Cup. Only last November, Monty was dismissing with contempt any questions about whether Europe's leading performer in recent matches would make the team for Detroit.

"I've said I never want to be picked but I've made a very poor start to the qualifying and if I can't get in, I'll have to be real nice to my friend Bernhard," Montgomerie said.

The change of heart follows Montgomerie's fall from the world's top 50 for the first time in 13 years. Suddenly, a schedule that usually includes all the biggest tournaments is in doubt. The only major championship the Scot is exempt for is the Masters and if he does not get back into the top 50 he faces the embarrassment of pre-qualifying for the Open at his home course of Royal Troon, and missing the US Open and the USPGA.

Monty only teed up this week at the Accenture World Matchplay because the top 64 make up the first round. On Wednesday at La Costa the Scot pulled off a remarkable win over Nick Price by recovering from two-down with three to play before winning at the second extra hole.

"It's not just the win," Monty said of reaching the second round for only the second time in this event, "but the way I did it that was satisfying. I made a putt at the 16th when I really needed to and it's like, OK, I've still got something and then finished it at the 20th."

While the second round was delayed until today by overnight rain, Montgomerie provided a candid assessment of his position. "I'm 57th in the world and I deserve to be," he said. "I have no problem with the rankings, it's a fair reflection. You go back to your hotel room in the evening and wonder how and why. It's a situation I've got to do something about. I'm still ambitious and I don't want to slide. It was only a year and a half ago I was doing my Ryder Cup thing to prove I can still compete at this level.

"But I've proved it is so easy to drop out of the top 50. It's so bloody simple to drop away, so easy to let it go, and so bloody difficult to get it back. You feel you can drop five spots but to get one or two spots back is a real effort.

"You don't appreciate anything until you lose it. It was easy when I turned up, finished second or third and went home. Now it's a bit more hard work. If I could win the Order of Merit again it'd be worth more than all the other seven put together."

* Laura Davies began her defence of the ANZ Ladies' Masters in Melbourne, Australia with a three-under-par 69 to share third place alongside the world No 1, Annika Sorenstam, but one shot behind another Briton, Karen Stupples. She shot a flawless four-birdie 68 which left her a shot behind the Australian leader, Rachel Teske.

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