Orr overhauls Montgomerie

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Having scored an eight-under 64 on the opening day to lead by one, Colin Montgomerie might have thought he was handily place in the Victor Chandler British Masters. For once, he declined to comment on his prospects of winning the tournament and he was wise to do so. By the time Monty ted up on the Duke's course, he was already seven strokes behind.

Having scored an eight-under 64 on the opening day to lead by one, Colin Montgomerie might have thought he was handily place in the Victor Chandler British Masters. For once, he declined to comment on his prospects of winning the tournament and he was wise to do so. By the time Monty ted up on the Duke's course, he was already seven strokes behind.

It was another Surrey-based Scot who created the unusual circumstance. Gary Orr took advantage of the perfect conditions, both climactically and under foot, to set a new course record of 62, 10 under par. The round took Orr to 15 under par and a one-shot lead over Mark McNulty, who had a second consecutive 65.

"I don't think I have ever been 15 under par for two rounds," Orr said. "Normally, I'm quite happy to be 15 under after four rounds, but maybe not this week." Montgomerie responded by going to the turn in 31 but three bogeys on the back nine rather halted his challenge. He shared third place at 11 under and said: "It didn't really go at all today. A 69 was just par."

Good scoring has come from all directions this week. Per-Ulrik Johansson, Ian Garbutt and Andrew Coltart all scored 65s but found themselves, respectively, four, five and six strokes back. "These days you can't back off and you can't play safe," Coltart said. "It doesn't matter what score you are going to have to shoot, you just have to keep firing at the pins and going for birdies."

Coltart prefaced his remarks by saying the weather played its part but, on a sunny morning with no wind, there was no point in protecting a score. "It's definitely changing," he added. "You used to be taught that, when you had a good score going, you try and bring it in. One or two good scores a week would have been good enough.

"On the last day, you might have got away with a 70 and hung on and won. But if you are not shooting four 67s or 66s, you're not going to have a look in. People are shooting lower scores more consistently. It's more exciting golf and, hopefully, the crowds enjoy it as well."

Orr might have ended up with a 61 since his second shot at the ninth hole, his last, lipped out. It was the shot of the round since he was in the trees off the tee. He was blocked out but had 130 yards to the pin. He elected to play a chip-and-run with a three-iron, bending the ball 10 yards in the air to avoid the branches.

"I had quite a good lie and I knew I could cut it enough, but had to take it close to one of the branches and keep it low," Orr explained. "I knew, if it didn't quite come off, I'd be 10 yards short of the green and that would have been fine. I lost sight of it but my caddie said it was good. I could easily have made a bogey and that would have left a sour taste. To make birdie was amazing really. It's little things like that can be the difference between winning and losing."

This is a subject that Orr is fully versed in. The 33-year-old turned professional 12 years ago but only managed his first win on the European Tour in February this year in Portugal. He had been close to winning on a number of occasions, losing out to Montgomerie at the 1998 Volvo PGA and Lee Westwood at the '99 Dutch Open. "I've never had any outrageous bad luck, but you need the right things to happen at the right time," he said.

Orr plays his first event in America next week at the USPGA Championship in Louisville. The invitation arrived on the same day he withdrew from the Dutch Open two weeks ago after only two shots. Fortunately, the back injury has fully recovered, or at least he was not feeling it after eight birdies and an eagle at the 18th, where he chipped on from 30 feet.

Comments