Montgomerie heads list of Europe's injured

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The Independent Online

Causing most consternation was the state of the three severely bruised fingers that caused Colin Montgomerie to withdraw from last week's Johnnie Walker Championship. Initially, the Scot, who thrust his big frame back into the big time with his runner-up finish at last month's Open, was expected to recover in plenty of time, but his manager yesterday signified that this may have been a tad optimistic. "Monty's spent the last couple of days having treatment," said Guy Kinnings. "He's still very sore, but he's travelling over today and will continue to have treatment."

It was a similar story for Stephen Gallacher, who also walked in at Gleneagles with a back injury, while David Howell didn't even get that far after he aborted his return from a two-month absence when his torn abdominal muscles did not even stand up to the rigours of a practice round. The Ryder Cup player from Swindon might wait until as late tomorrow evening before making a decision.

By then he will doubtless find his old European Tour colleague Justin Rose begging for him to see sense and pull out. The 25-year-old has slipped so far down the world rankings that he was listed as eighth reserve for the easiest major field to get into by far. Yesterday, Howell moved up five players after the first raft of withdrawals and now faces a nervous three days awaiting the call.

At least Ian Poulter was cutting his usual confident figure, dismissing his own recent injury - a thigh strain - by saying: "If I play good over the four days then I'm going to win this golf tournament." Another Englishman, Lee Westwood, was not quite so bullish, but then he had just found himself on the range next to one Tiger Woods, the world No 1, who just happens to be chasing his third major of the season.

Nevertheless, he was taking inspiration from a good friend who has also defied the odds. "It does inspire me to see other English sportsmen performing so fantastically, especially when it's someone who I know well like Freddie."

"Freddie", of course, is of the Flintoff variety, who shares a manager with Westwood. "On Sunday we were supposed to fly at 10am, but it didn't take off until 6pm so I managed to catch the cricket - it was thrilling," he said. "You never know, it could be an omen for us lot."

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