Montgomerie shakes up Grant

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The Independent Online

There are plenty of Ryder Cup partners who will testify that Colin Montgomerie is just the man to be alongside in the trenches. But trying to partner the Scot on an off-day is not for the faint of heart, and little in Hugh Grant's acting career, not even The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain, could have prepared him for such an experience.

By all accounts the professionals and amateurs get on famously in the Dunhill Links Championship, which is just as well for the eternity they spend on the course together. Indeed, Padraig Harrington credited the relaxed nature of the week for his victory a year ago.

But Grant's company was not enough to prevent Monty from fuming as usual after bogeying the last. With little breeze, Carnoustie was a sleeping giant, more a Car-snoozy than the Car-nasty of Open fame four years ago.

Montgomerie's 73 left him seven strokes off the lead and as he exited the scoring cabin he tripped on the step. Fortunately, he managed to stop himself from falling, unlike on the first morning of the Open at Sandwich when he had to withdraw after seven holes with a wrist injury.

But the serene atmosphere the tournament induces was promptly shattered by Monty's turning round and giving the offending step a couple of thunderous kicks in a move that might feature in a coaching manual by Basil Fawlty rather than Butch Harmon.

Grant was left to speak on the team's behalf. "I'm not sure I have the nervous constitution for this," he said. "It's nerve-racking." Before the tournament Grant had claimed the pair could do well together because they shared a "psychological competitive streak". Did he mean "psychopathic"?

Ines Sastre, the Spanish model, had a more positive effect on Costantino Rocca, who returned to form after years in the doldrums with a 68 at Carnoustie.

"I have never, ever played golf with anybody as wonderful as this lady. She helped to inspire me," the Italian said before going for a lie down. Daniel Torrance, the 15-year-old son of Sam who plays off a handicap of five, helped the old man out by ensuring the team finished at five under when dad was four over.

The free admission did tempt a few spectators in to witness such gems as Shane Warne missing the widest fairway in the world and going out of bounds on the left of the 18th of the Old Course.

Those locals who did take to the links were rewarded with a 66 by Simon Yates, a 33-year-old Scot who tied for the lead with Soren Hansen, who also played at St Andrews, and Gary Murphy, who was at Carnoustie.

Yates, whose brother has Brian Barnes for a godfather, represented Scotland as a downhill skier while a teenager but has an aversion to the cold. He now lives in a penthouse apartment on a beach in Hua Hin, two hours south of Bangkok in Thailand. He plays on the Asian Tour, where he is known as the "Wee Man" for his slight build, and has had some success.

Not that he wants too much, which would mean playing in the cold and wind more often in Europe.

"My ambitions aren't really high," he said. "I like the heat. You just feel looser. When it gets cold and windy, I feel stiff and don't feel I can give it a rip. I'm not as confident at golf as I was at skiing. One day to the next can be totally different.

"It's a great lifestyle in Thailand. I'm a bit lazy, really. I've got this condo overlooking the sea and the mountains. I practise in the morning but then it gets too hot so I go to the beach restaurant for lunch - it only costs about £1 for a full Thai meal - and then swim or watch TV. It's a very relaxing life."

* Darren Clarke won last month's European Tour Royal Bank of Scotland shot of the month for his 40-foot birdie putt en route to victory in the NEC world championship in Akron. The Ulsterman made the putt on the 13th hole of the final round, which secured a four-stroke victory to take the $1m first prize. He was also named golfer of the month for the performance.

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