Montgomerie shows Ryder form

With the possible exception of the 20,000 cardiologists who are descending on the city for a conference this weekend, few conversations are being conducted here that do not involve the latest theories as to who is in Bernhard Langer's mind for his two Ryder Cup wild-card selections.

With the possible exception of the 20,000 cardiologists who are descending on the city for a conference this weekend, few conversations are being conducted here that do not involve the latest theories as to who is in Bernhard Langer's mind for his two Ryder Cup wild-card selections.

About the only two people to avoid the subject yesterday were two of the most prominent candidates, Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald, who just happened to be playing together in the first round of the BMW International at Nord-Eichenried.

"Very briefly, at the beginning, before we even teed off," Donald replied when asked if any Ryder Cup talk had taken place. "He just said: 'Do you think we are OK?' I didn't know at first what he was going on about, but I said: 'I hope so'."

Montgomerie's version of the conversation suggested the young Englishman had got the wrong end of the stick. "I meant whether it was going to rain or not," the Scot insisted. "I would never, ever say something like that on the first tee. I'm far too professional."

It was a delicious exchange at a time when everyone's words are analysed for double and triple-speak. Whatever the truth of the matter, Donald went out and scored a 68 while Montgomerie had a 67.

Retief Goosen, playing for the first time in a month due to a pelvis injury, led the way with a 66. The South African is rarely distracted at the best of times and does not have to concern himself with the closing dramas of Ryder Cup qualifying.

Paul McGinley, in 10th place on the standings, kept his form going with a 70 but the two men above him who are also yet to secure their places, David Howell and Ian Poulter, both had 73s. Alex Cejka, another in contention for a wild card, started well with a 68.

Nord-Eichenried is known as a low-scoring venue but with the rough up, and wind and rain around, conditions were difficult.

It was a round of old for Montgomerie as he did not drop a stroke, one of only two players to keep a bogey, or worse, off his card.

On the second half of his round, from the first to the ninth, Monty took only 12 putts. The score was made when he hit a wedge to four feet at the fifth, a three-wood on to the green at the next to set up an eagle, and two three-irons and a wedge into the par-five ninth for another birdie. Donald, who has a wonderful tempo and balance in his swing, appeared to have hit his driving iron sweetly at the sixth but just came up short in the pond. It turned a possible birdie into a bogey-six.

Why John Daly, who also scored a 67, has never appeared in the Ryder Cup is a mystery only a half-a-dozen American captains can answer. He certainly did not lobby Hal Sutton. "I don't kiss anybody's ass to get something," he said. "I appreciate the fans and the media talking me up but I think it pissed Hal off."

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