Monty under a cloud as 'Jakartagate' unrest grows

Tour pro calls for disciplinary panel to be set up following Indonesia fiasco
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Just when Colin Montgomerie thought things couldn't get much worse - after an ugly 73 left him 11 shots adrift of the PGA Championship leaders here - a leading Tour professional yesterday lifted the lid on the depth of bad blood cascading between the players and the Scot over the affair that has become known simply as "Jakartagate".

Just when Colin Montgomerie thought things couldn't get much worse - after an ugly 73 left him 11 shots adrift of the PGA Championship leaders here - a leading Tour professional yesterday lifted the lid on the depth of bad blood cascading between the players and the Scot over the affair that has become known simply as "Jakartagate".

"You cannot accuse anybody of cheating, but the Tour is not happy," said European Tour member Gary Evans after coming to the media centre during yesterday's third round and asking to see a video of the incident that has been the main whispering point in the locker rooms ever since the Indonesian Open in March. "The players all feel that there has been a bit of smoke around Monty."

There wasn't a copy of the tape to hand, but if he had seen it Evans would have witnessed Montgomerie picking up his ball during a lightning storm on the Friday night and then returning to place it in an undeniably more advantageous position the following morning. As he consulted his playing partners at the time of replacing it, and as the Asian referee ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing, no action was taken against Montgomerie when the matter was raised at a players' meeting a fortnight ago. However, the Players' Tournament Committee, of which Montgomerie is a member, did express their "dissatisfaction" in a carefully-worded statement after a meeting where passions are known to have run high.

"It is unprofessional not to mark your ball," said Evans, about Montgomerie's departure from standard practice that caused consternation and scepticism. "Are you really sure your ball is going to be there when you get back the next morning? You can't be serious. I have seen players mark their ball on the green and put two pegs on either side."

What is also known to have angered the players is that Montgomerie later all but admitted his crime in giving to charity the £24,000 he won at the tournament - but was still cleared by his peers. Not content with the Tournament Committee's rebuke, an influential quorum of pros, including Evans, were planning to bring the matter up again at the annual players' meeting on the eve of this event, but an impassioned speech by George O'Grady, the Tour's executive director, pleading for an end to the bad publicity, made them think again. Until Evans reopened the can yesterday, that is.

"The players feel that he should have been penalised two shots at the time, or disqualified. I am not saying that Monty is lying, but if he is not lying, why would you give your money to charity?" asked Evans, a European Tour professional of 13 years' standing who is best known for finishing one shot away from the play-off at the 2002 Open. "Why do it? If he is so upset, why not disqualify himself and give his money back to the Tour?"

Indeed, after the tournament had finished, and the results posted, it was only Montgomerie who could have taken any punitive action as the Tour are not empowered to disqualify retrospectively. "The Tour cannot do anything about it now," explained Evans. "I think there should be a 24- to 48-hour period where if there is anything dubious it can be reviewed by a panel. We are playing for so much money now that the onus needs to be taken off the player. Golf should be like rugby and have a disciplinary panel. If someone is seen on TV, they can go back and ban the player for three matches or whatever. David Garland [the Tour's director of operations] took this point. We want to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again."

Montgomerie has vowed that it never will - not on his behalf anyway - and is known to be frustrated that the matter refuses to die. He will be devastated that Evans's outburst has given the affair fresh legs. "I do believe it would have been cleared more quickly if it had not been one of the Tour's top players," he said in a leading tabloid yesterday. "I don't think there's any question of that."

Evans would doubtless disagree, and points to the fact that the players are also very unhappy with Miguel-Angel Martin who was disqualified - not for the first time - at the British Masters a fortnight ago. "Cheating is almost acceptable in football," said Evans, outlining the paranoia currently running through the Tour. "We must not let the integrity of our game fall by dubious situations."

In the midst of all this controversy it was easy to forget there was a golf tournament going on, the European Tour's "flagship" event at that. Angel Cabrera's 66, in devilishly tricky, windy conditions, took the Argentinian into a share of the lead with Sweden's Peter Hedblom, the overnight leader. Two further back, also after a 66, is the frighteningly consistent David Howell, whose last two Sundays have ended in agonising defeats in play-offs. "Would I take another play-off here?" he asked. "You're bloody right I would. It's the PGA."

Darren Clarke withdrew yesterday morning when joint 11th to be with his wife who was undergoing a "procedure" in hospital. Heather Clarke has been suffering from cancer.

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