Montgomerie suffers yet more indignity to cap week of embarrassment

Just when the ridicule must have seemed almost unbearable, so yet more humiliation was piled upon Colin Montgomerie with the worst major performance of his career here yesterday.

A second-round 83 left him dead last in a USPGA field containing 19 club pros. The only consolation available to the Scot is he has been spared a weekend of further embarrassment.

"A very long week," was how Montgomerie summed it up. Indeed, it has been and he was not necessarily referring to the golf or the fog delays which have blighted these first two days, leaving half the field to complete their second rounds today. On Tuesday, at a press conference which has already entered Monty folklore under "the bizarre and excruciating" section, the 47-year-old accused all the journalists in the room of "having fun at my expense". And to be fair, it is impossible to pretend that the rumours triggered by this married man seeking an injunction to block a story about his private life have not been rife in Wisconsin.

Montgomerie had been playing awfully anyway and with all that distraction going on in the background, anything other than a missed cut would have verged on the miraculous. When asked how much he had practised and what his expectations were coming into what was his 71st, and quite possibly final, major, he replied: "I couldn't, there weren't." The wretchedness of his scorecard was given even crueller emphasis by the form of his playing partner. As he signed for an 18-over total, Matt Kuchar signed for an eight-under clubhouse lead. A 26-stroke lashing.

"This was the first time I've played with Matt and I'm very impressed," said Montgomerie. "He handled himself very well. He is as solid a player as I have played with on the US Tour for a long time and will be a great asset to their Ryder Cup team."

The 47-year-old will now spend the weekend commentating on Sky and watching his prospective players. At the very least his comments last night dispelled most of that wild speculation of him quitting. "I'm looking forward to getting the Ryder Cup team picked," he said, thinking forward to Gleneagles in two weeks' time. "A few of our boys are doing well. Rory McIlroy has got it back to five-under which is great."

The young Irishman added a 68 to a 71 to stand just three shots behind Kuchar. While McIlroy's first round was golfing pandemonium – six birdies, two double bogeys, one bogey – his next effort was wonderfully composed, although he did have to pull off an outrageous save on his last (the ninth). His pitching-wedge approach hopped over a bunker towards the hazard, but somehow McIlroy got it up and down, his 12-footer for par a fine way to head for his evening meal.

"I like the position I'm in," he said. "I'm in a strong position from where I can make a charge over the weekend."

It is set to be a big two days – possibly three if play drags into Monday – for the 21-year-old who played such a central role at St Andrews a month ago. Take out that horrendous 80 on the Friday and that Open display screamed of a player whose time could really be nigh. He has already established a three-stroke cushion over Phil Mickelson.

The left-hander played in typically cavalier fashion as he veered from potential disaster to audacious recovery with a 69. At one stage, a drive hit a spectator. "Sorry," signed Mickelson on a glove he gave to the man. Little wonder so many here are rooting for the Masters champion to at last replace Tiger Woods at the top of the rankings.

Out on the course, Simon Khan was threatening to displace Kuchar, joining the leader on eight-under with three remaining. The Englishman is trying to win the PGA double, having prevailed at Wentworth in May. That success resurrected a career which appeared in danger of crashing into oblivion when he lost his card two years ago. Khan, an amiable 38-year-old from Essex, continued his trip into golfing wonderland with a first-round 69 and then four birdies and an eagle – after chipping in on the sixth – to take him to the top.

His and McIlroy's names were a welcome sight for the European golf fan on a leaderboard otherwise crammed with the Starred and Striped. Nick Watney (seven-under), Bryce Molder (five-under), Dustin Johnson (five-under), Jason Dufner (five-under)... these are the young Americans who have been so derided in this season of dramatic European success. Corey Pavin, the US Ryder Cup captain, will be thrilled to see their form here. They are certainly not the Celtic Manor no-hopers as portrayed by certain experts. In fact, when Pavin's automatic placings are decided at the end of this event he might well have a new major winner to hail.

Kuchar and Johnson are two of the players just above Woods in the Ryder Cup charts as he tries to leapfrog from 10th into the top eight. The pair had given him plenty to ponder as he killed time waiting for his evening tee-off time to resume on one-under.

After a fog delay of three hours, 10 minutes on Thursday, another of two hours 40 minutes sent the schedule of this major into complete and utter disarray. A Monday finish was becoming a distinct possibility. If not a probability. It's going to be a marathon and the quite clearly shattered Montgomerie is better off out of it.

Second-Round leaderboard

US unless stated; holes played in brackets

-8 M Kuchar (36), S Khan (Eng) (33).

-7 N Watney (36).

-5 J Dufner (36), B Molder (36), D Johnson (36), S-Y Noh (S Kor) (36), R McIlroy (NIrl) (36), Z Johnson (36), B Watson (21).

-4 C Campbell (36), F Molinari (It) (36).

-3 C Pettersson (Swe) (36), J Day (Aus) (22), M Laird (Sco) (20), R Moore (18), C Howell III (18), K-T Kim (S Kor) (20), J Merrick (20), M Sim (Aus) (19)

-2 (group including) E Els (SA) (36), P Mickelson (36), R Karlsson (Swe) (34)

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?