Monty stunned as £1m goes down drain

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The Independent Online

The particular animal who chased him out of the World Match Play goes by the name of Mark Hensby and is an absolute classic of a species once so feared in this land. Seemingly dead and in the process of being buried after Montgomerie did all the waltzing in the morning to take a three-hole lead, the 33-year-old simply hauled himself up, shook himself down and kicked all the dirt back in his opponent's ever-reddening face.

"I played so poorly this morning," said Hensby, the Florida-based Melburnian who, not so long ago, was having to sleep in his car but who this year has made such an impression in the majors. "But I just hung in there. Once I got up some momentum I really didn't waver."

In fact, he barely blinked, his nerveless up-and-downer on the par-five 17th to close out his 2 and 1 victory belying the jaw-dropping awe he claimed to have suffered in the clubhouse on Wednesday night. "I went to dinner and saw his name on every board of past champions in there," he said. "He's a hell of a player, especially around here."

Montgomerie did not necessarily feel like one after watching his best chance of winning his eighth Order of Merit slip from the grip that took him closer than ever to a Claret Jug in July. As a consolation for merely turning up here, the Open runner-up may have been a £60,000 winner, but in his eyes he was nothing more than a £1m loser of a second Match Play title he genuinely believes he is due. "I didn't win a hole this afternoon and in those circumstances didn't deserve to go through to the quarters," he said. "I rimmed a whole lot of putts, but never mind."

As he said it, you could see him "never-minding" all the way back to the 16th green where the match was all-but decided. With Montgomerie one down with three to play and Hensby within eight feet of the hole, the 42-year-old knew his 15-footer had to drop. How it didn't, and how it defied both gravity and reason to pop back out will long live with all who saw it. "Yeah, that was dramatic," Montgomerie said.

It was hardly the drama the sponsors had yearned for, however, as they waved goodbye not only to the most recognisable name in the event boasting "the richest first-prize in golf" but also to the chance of staging a headline-inducing showdown between the two main protagonists in the race for the Order Of Merit. Instead, Hensby today faces Retief Goosen, who made light work of Kenneth Ferrie, the heavyweight from County Durham.

The world No 109 struck first to take the opening hole, but then disappeared under a flurry of blows from the No 1 seed's golf glove to go down by an embarrassing count. This was mismatch play at its most damning. "Was it a good experience playing here?" the 26-year-old said. "Believe me, losing 8 and 7 is never a good experience."

With his countryman David Howell also among the vanquished eight - albeit after being touched off on the final hole by Jose Maria Olazabal - British hopes now rest with Luke Donald, who shamelessly issued his Ryder Cup captain with a 7 and 6 "dog licence" of a defeat - the cheeky pup. "That was some of worst golf I have ever played," Bernhard Langer said. "In contrast, Luke was very solid, very steady."

From the golfing equivalent of the spirit level this was some compliment, although the 27-year-old may need to make the earth move somewhat today if he is to shake off Paul McGinley so easily. All was progressing quietly enough in the Dubliner's neighbourly tussle with fellow Wentworth resident Thomas Bjorn until a quite sensational run of nine holes in the afternoon round yielded five birdies, an eagle from the fairway on the par-four 11th, a solitary bogey and, most tellingly, seven winning holes. A 6 and 5 victory did not begin to do it justice.

As did not the 2 and 1 scoreline fully explain of the ease of the triumph of Angel Cabrera, the player they call Pato, "The Duck", who effortlessly flew away from the South African Trevor Immelman. Yes, this day of downpours was indeed good weather for The Duck, as it was for a Goose and a Hen. And even for Donald, for that matter.

World Match Play Championship (Wentworth) First-round results: R Goosen (SA) bt K Ferrie (Eng) 8 and 7; M Hensby (Aus) bt C Montgomerie (Sco) 2 and 1; S Elkington (Aus) bt T Clark (SA) 6 and 5; M Campbell (NZ) bt G Ogilvy (Aus) 1 hole; L Donald (Eng) bt B Langer (Ger) 7 and 6; P McGinley (Irl) bt T Bjorn (Den) 6 and 5; J M Olazabal (Sp) bt D Howell (Eng) 1 hole; A Cabrera (Arg) bt T Immelman (SA) 2 and 1. Quarter-final tee-off times: 08.30 and 13.30 Goosen v Hensby. 08.45 and 13.45 Elkington v Campbell. 09.00 and 14.00 Donald v McGinley. 09.15 and 14.15 Olazabal v Cabrera.