Indians send Scotland packing

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The Independent Online
Oh, our Costa Ricas and Paraguays of yesteryear. Scotland's catalogue of calamity was extended when they lost to India on the second day of the Alfred Dunhill Cup yesterday. The home of golf is as familiar with tartan humiliation as faraway football fields. Where Paraguay succeeded in 1993, India followed with a 2-1 win that left the defending champions without a hope of qualifying for the semi-finals.

There are around 150 golf courses in India; in Scotland there is one every 150 yards. Clearly Scotland, hoping for a 3-0 win after defeat by Sweden on Thursday, were in trouble once the Indians turned up and teed up on the Old Course. "This is the first time we have played in a major international team event," Gaurav Ghei said. "We hoped to make an impact and we have done that now."

They did so not on a balmy Indian summer afternoon, but with a chilly St Andrews wind gusting over the links. Ghei beat Colin Montgomerie with a 78 to a 79. Andrew Coltart lost to Jeev Singh at the first extra hole, and only Raymond Russell restored some pride with a 13-shot win over Ali Sher.

Montgomerie blamed a rake outside a bunker at the sixth, which deflected his ball under the lip of a bunker from where he took a triple bogey, and the weather. "I wouldn't like to say the wind was a leveller, but it gives everyone a more equal opportunity," Montgomerie said. "It was unfortunate the wind got up. It was difficult to two-putt from 70 feet." Don't mention The Oxfordshire or Carnoustie.

Singh and Coltart tied on 74 before going to the first again, where Coltart three-putted from 35 feet. The main scoreboard had Scotland winning 2- 1 and Montgomerie was explaining how they could still qualify when he was told the corrected score. "How did I know someone was going to mention Paraguay," he said. Singh was third on the Asian PGA Tour order of merit for 1996-97, and Ghei fifth, but the tour is not recognised by the Sony rankings. Singh and Ghei are tied for 696th place, and Sher is unranked. India today play Sweden, who beat Zimbabwe, 3-0. Sweden just need to win one game to clinch the group.

Usually at this competition the Saturday drawsheet has an addendum running into several pages of ifs, buts and maybes concerning the possible outcomes of the four groups. This year at least Group Three is clear-cut, with the winners of the South Africa-Ireland tie progressing to tomorrow. Both produced their second wins yesterday, with Ireland whitewashing Canada, 3-0. Australia gained a similar result over Germany and they will top Group Four with a win, or a 2-1 defeat, against New Zealand. But if the Kiwis win 3-0, and Japan beat Germany 3-0, then Japan will go through after their 2-1 victory over New Zealand yesterday.

In Group One, the United States are in the strongest position, but if they lose to Spain, England could still qualify with a win over Italy. Despite Mark O'Meara's defeat to Barry Lane's 18 straight pars, Steve Stricker beat Jonathan Lomas after the Englishman went out of bounds twice at the 14th, and Phil Mickelson birdied two of the last three to beat Lee Westwood.