Monty overdoes the death stare as his game deserts him

Scotsman scowls and growls his way round links in vain search for vintage form

If looks could kill, by lunchtime yesterday there would have been bodies strewn across this lovely stretch of Ayrshire links land; the corpses of photographers, journalists, marshals, caddies and indeed spectators.

Colin Montgomerie had just signed for a 74 to leave him outside the projected 36-hole cut at five over par, and in the untidy process of assembling it he spared hardly anyone his notorious death stare. It was a good job Sandy Lyle didn't cross his path.

By reheating the old allegations that Monty cheated at the Indonesian Open four years ago, Lyle, bitter at being gazumped for the Ryder Cup captaincy, has given the drama of this championship an intriguing subplot. Following yesterday's round Montgomerie again cited the controversy as an extremely unhelpful distraction, adding that he'd heard Lyle expressing the hope that the comments hadn't jeopardised his, Lyle's, chance of being appointed Ryder Cup vice-captain. "I thought that was very, very funny," Monty said, flashing one of his Colgate smiles but actually looking about as amused as a man with chronic toothache.

It is just as well that Montgomerie has the Ryder Cup and other people's golf games to think about, because his own game is in a dreadful slump. He hasn't had a top-10 finish for more than a year, and there is a gloomy possibility that the short putt with which he completed a bogey five at the 18th yesterday could be his valedictory blow in an Open Championship. He qualified to play here by just sneaking into the top-30 money-winners on the 2008 European Tour. But he is nowhere near the top 30 this year, which reduces the routes to St Andrews for the 2010 Open. Someone should suggest, standing well back of course, that if he wants to be there he might consider taking a job as a photographer.

There is, in fact, more chance of Prince Charles designing a futuristic chrome office block with its plumbing on the outside. Photographers are a reviled species to Monty, who on the ninth tee took exception to a snapper lying prostrate and motionless in the official vantage point. Nobody else over the course of the first two days here had been troubled, as was intrepidly pointed out by a woman holding a "Quiet Please" sign. "It was all right for Tiger Woods yesterday," she dared to tell Monty. A scowl was her reward.

It remains one of the mysteries of golf that a man capable of such beguiling charm off the course can be so spectacularly charmless on it. Monty smashed his tee shot on the ninth into deep rough, so deep that at first neither he, his caddie, nor the marshals, could find it. The spectators watched the search sympathetically from the other side of the ropes.

Monty glared at them. "You can help if you'd like to," he said, the implication being that they didn't have to stand there being quite so useless. A few minutes later he galumphed off the green with a six on his card, and as he made his way to the next tee, a man called out, plainly in a spirit of encouragement rather than provocation, "Well done, Colin". Rather like a juggernaut, Montgomerie came to a juddering halt. His eyes bored into the hapless spectator. "I've just double-bogeyed the hole, mate," he snapped back. Rarely did anyone feel less like Monty's mate.

A fellow named Lyle notwithstanding, Montgomerie is truly his own worst enemy. His drive on the 12th found a bunker, and his escape shot found another bunker. He watched in stupefaction. "Unbelievable," he muttered, but it's a fair bet that what he couldn't believe was not the inadequacy of his own shots but the audacity of the bunkers for getting in the way. On the 17th tee he ventured to the caddie of his American playing partner, Zach Johnson, that the blustery wind with which they had had to contend all the way round, had now dropped. "Unbelievable," he said again. Then, just before he addressed his ball, an over-enthusiastic marshal yelled at the crowd to stand still. Another glare from Monty, and a little shake of the head, as if scarcely able to comprehend the myriad ways in which the human race conspires to make his life more difficult.

In an episode of Fawlty Towers, Sybil Fawlty once referred to her mother's many irrational fears: "Vans, rats, door knobs, birds, heights, open spaces, confined spaces... footballs, bicycles, cows... men following her..."

Thus it is with the things sent by the forces of evil to disturb Monty's concentration. "People, aeroplanes, wind, rain, sand, loud noises, soft noises ... vans, rats, door knobs, birds..." In some ways it seems like an act of mercy that the 36-hole cut has put him out of his misery.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker