Montgomeriere discovers his hunger

Colin Montgomerie wore the hungry look of a determined rookie here yesterday as he snapped out of his mood of utter despondency to move into contention at the Wales Open.

Colin Montgomerie wore the hungry look of a determined rookie here yesterday as he snapped out of his mood of utter despondency to move into contention at the Wales Open.

The Scot declared here on Wednesday that it was time to get serious again in the wake of his much-publicised separation from his wife of 14 years, Eimear, and that his next win "would be the most important of my career". It was probably sooner than he dared hope, but yesterday the 40-year-old took a giant step towards this watershed victory with a five-under-par 67 to lie two behind the first-round leader, David Howell.

"I was actually in danger of feeling quite competitive out there today," said Montgomerie after a blemish-free round adorned with five birdies. "I was almost disappointed at the last when I had a 10-footer for a birdie and I missed it - which is a good sign. When you see your name on the leaderboard again it gets your competitive juices flowing."

Montgomerie was quick to point out that "one round does not make a summer", and that the pain of the collapse of his personal life is not yet behind him. "This was just five hours and it was good," he said. "But I've said before that I'm very lucky to have this game to turn to, very lucky to be able to put my heart and soul into the game of golf.

"I felt better coming to this event. Last week at Wentworth was quite difficult because I've got a lot of memories there. I had a good group today, too, which was great. I enjoyed playing with Paul [Lawrie] and Ian [Poulter]. I like people who get on with it and the chat was good, quite light-hearted, which I need at the moment."

The "superb support" from the Welsh galleries also played its part, lifting him from the off as did the two-putt birdie on the 600-yard second. Five pars then followed before an eight-iron to four-foot on the par-four eighth helped him complete the front nine in 34. A wedge to six foot on the 11th continued his run until back-to back birdies on 14th and 15th - where he holed a raking 25-footer - sent his name hurtling up the leaderboard.

"I'm not surprised that I'm in contention so soon after everything I've been through," he said. "This is one thing that I can do. Although I still feel it will take six months."

Howell was similarly impressed with himself after 18 holes when not much went wrong for the 28-year-old from Swindon. "It was one of those days, I hit one bad drive," said Howell whose only bogey came at the par-four sixth. "Other than that it was a case of down the middle, on the green, chances most holes."

Italy's Emanuele Canonica, who together with the young German Marcel Siem is one behind Howell on six under, takes "down the middle, on the green" rather too literally at times when he stands on the tee. And the 33-year-old from Turin was up to his big-hitting tricks again yesterday when sending his drive on the second some 400-yards down the fairway. Not bad for someone who stands 5ft 2in, but who has held the title of tour's longest hitter for five of the last six years.

"Who gave me my power?" said Canonica. "I don't know maybe God has given me it."

Level with Montgomerie lies the Frenchman Christian Cévaër, who had a bitter-sweet day after discovering that time-keepers wait for no golfer, especially the professional, when picking up a £4,000 fine for slow play.

Wales Open (Celtic Manor) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 65 D Howell. 66 M Siem (Ger), E Canonica (It). 67 C Cévaër (Fr), S O'Hara, C Montgomerie. 68 J Moseley (Aus), M Ilonen (Fin), N Sato (Japan), D Carter. 69 M Maritz (SA), S Struver (Ger), P Hanson (Swe), M A Martin (Sp), B Lane, T Levet (Fr), M Tunnicliff, F Andersson (Swe), S Khan, S Kjeldsen (Den), D Lynn, P Casey. 70 W Bennett, G Orr, S Luna (Sp), J Lomas, P O'Malley (Aus), R Coles, M Vibe-Hastrup (Den), P Nyman (Swe), J Kingston (SA), P Baker. Selected: 71 I Woosnam. 72 P Broadhurst. 73 L Westwood.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy