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
PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste