Monty bounces back with course record to book his St Andrews spot

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The Independent Online

One moment he's down, the next moment he's up. The big dipper which is Colin Montgomerie's life took a sudden and highly unexpected lurch to the sky at Sunningdale yesterday as he qualified for next month's Open Championship in dramatic circumstances.

After a morning 69 left him down in a tie for 27th of the 96 chasing 10 spots, few gave the 46-year-old any chance of making it back to St Andrews and the hallowed course where he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods five years ago. But despite the rigours of an emotional last week, Monty summoned up the will to fire a remarkable course-record 62.

"I wasn't going to give up on going back to the Home of Golf without a fight," said Montgomerie, who has not missed an Open since 1989.

Neither his courage nor his stamina should be underestimated. Montgomerie has performed woefully this year, dropping outside the world's top 300. He did manage to make the cut at Celtic Manor – but otherwise it was such a trying tournament. In his role as Europe captain, Montgomerie was heavily in demand at the Ryder Cup venue. But when a tabloid exposé forced him to apologise "for the hurt I have caused my family", the scrutiny became intense.

While this recently married man admits to having much work to do off the course, on the course he can harbour hopes of a resurgence. Monty did not qualify for the year's first two majors, but will tee it up in the final two. That will be useful from a captaincy perspective.

In this guise he is delighted to see Justin Rose's return to form. Two years ago he was in the world's top six, but came into last week's Memorial tournament in Ohio down in 66th. Three fine rounds capped by a brilliant 66 on Sunday hurtled Rose back in the top 50 and to the fringes of the Ryder Cup standings.

"We all know that Justin had that awful slump [21 successive missed cuts at the start of his career] and how he has proved himself," Montgomerie said. "He's a Ryder Cup player already and this puts him in position again."

However, Rose was not about to bask in the glory of winning his first US title after 162 attempts. Yesterday he was trudging around his own 36-hole marathon in Columbus as he tried to earn a ticket into next week's US Open at Pebble Beach. Alas, he missed out by three. Despite the predictable clamour to wlecome him back to the big time, Rose will have to wait restate his credentials as a major contender.