Montgomerie's new low brings early exit

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo, former Ryder Cup partners and two of British golf's biggest names, could not stop the rot here at St Leon-Rot yesterday.

Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo, former Ryder Cup partners and two of British golf's biggest names, could not stop the rot here at St Leon-Rot yesterday.

Montgomerie, his marriage break-up clearly making it impossible for him to focus properly on anything else, crashed out of the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open on a sorry nine over par and further down the field than at any time in Europe since his professional debut in 1987. In a field of 156 he did not even manage a place in the top 125.

Faldo, only one stroke better following a 77, is also not part of the weekend action - and for the first time in a tour career that began in 1976 and spans over 350 events has now missed three successive half-way cuts.

Of course, there were those thoroughly enjoying themselves, nobody more so than Alex Cejka, whose two-eagle, five-birdie 64 equalled the course record he himself set two years ago.

Cejka, trying to force his way into Europe's Ryder Cup team, moved to 11 under par after originally fearing he would not be able to play because of a hamstring strain. His charge to the top of the leaderboard was helped by the fact that strong winds made life difficult for the likes of Ernie Els and the first-round leaders, Trevor Immelman and Gregory Havret.

Montgomerie, who had his sports psychologist Hugh Mantle with him offering support, cut a sad figure as he headed towards his car for the 500-mile journey home two days earlier than he had hoped.

"It's tough being Monty at the moment - he's half the man he was," said the defending champion, Padraig Harrington, after coming in with a 68.

"I have to do my job, but unfortunately it's difficult," said Montgomerie."I enjoy my job, but I don't enjoy playing this way.I've just got to try again next week and the next and the next until I can perform to my ability. That's all I can do."

As a result of this performance, Montgomerie is almost certain to fall out of the world's top 50 and is therefore still without a place in the US Open or the Open in July at his home club Royal Troon.

Britain's Mark Roe was yesterday disqualified from a tournament for the second time in 10 months, this time for hitting a moving ball when he took six putts on the sixth hole during the first round on Thursday. Roe was disqualified at last year's Open when he and Jesper Parnevik signed the wrong cards.

Deutsche Bank-Sap Open (Heidelberg, Ger), Leading second round scores: 133 A Cejka (Ger) 69 64. 136 G Havret (Fr) 65 71, D Howell (Eng) 65 71. 137 D Clarke (N lrl) 70 67, T Immelman (SA) 65 72, L Oosthuizen (SA) 69 68, S Scahill (NZ) 68 69. 138 K Eriksson (Swe) 69 69, A Hansen (Den) 68 70, P Harrington (Irl) 70 68, A McLean (Sco) 66 72, E Romero (Arg) 69 69, M Siem (Ger) 66 72.

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