Monty suffers delayed reaction

When you consider the 41 years Colin Montgomerie has waited to win a major, five and a half hours does not seem too long. But even the Disgruntled One could be forgiven the fury he expressed after the insufferable delays that blighted the first round of the Dunlop Masters here yesterday.

When you consider the 41 years Colin Montgomerie has waited to win a major, five and a half hours does not seem too long. But even the Disgruntled One could be forgiven the fury he expressed after the insufferable delays that blighted the first round of the Dunlop Masters here yesterday.

"Five and a half hours is an hour too long," he said, after a horrendous three-putt from the length of his arm on the 9th - his 18th - led to a triple-bogey seven that saw him sign for a level-par 72, three behind the early leading group. "I wouldn't say it affected my concentration, but it became very, very slow."

In truth, it did affect his concentration, as he was forced to stand still and suffer with all the patience of a statue on most fairways. And in Ian Poulter, a professional who dresses like a peacock but plays like a tortoise, Montgomerie had a playing partner who stretched the "don't rush it" philosophy to lengths that Sisyphus would have found frustrating as he compiled a painstaking 75.

But Montgomerie was not about to single out his Ryder Cup team-mate for criticism, not on the day when he attracted "I'm no cheat" headlines for being admonished by his fellow Tour pros for an incident that happened two months ago but one that still refuses to die. The erroneous drop he took in Indonesia, which prompted the tournament committee to express their "dissatisfaction" in a carefully worded statement after a blue-aired meeting here on Tuesday, was still eliciting sinister whispers that Montgomerie attempted to acknowledge with a tongue-in-cheek quip when Lee Westward, his other partner yesterday, asked for a ruling. "Sure, I'm good on the rules," Montgomerie quipped.

Brave tries. Because, during a first round when the Spaniard Miguel Angel Martin was disqualified for treading down a sapling illegally with all the surreptitiousness of Arthur Daley, rules and rule-breaking were to be the subject of the day - and nobody was laughing. Least of all the four Englishman leading Britain's first Tour event of the year, David Howell, Ben Mason, David Lynn and Brian Davis, whose first-round 69s were cruelly to be no more than mere footnotes.

* Michelle Wie will try to move a step closer today to becoming the first woman to qualify for the US Open when the she lines up in her home state, Hawaii. Wie, 15, will have to finish in the top two, in a field of 40, to progress to the final 36-hole qualifier for next month's major at Pinehurst.

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