Montgomerie leads Europeans

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The Independent Online

The Europeans made little impact against the home contingent in Thursday's opening round of the BellSouth Classic in Marietta, Georgia, with Colin Montgomerie heading the visitors but he lies five shots off the pace. The Scot, runner-up in last week's Players' Championship and playing his final event prior to The Masters at Augusta, shot a one-under-par 71.

Ian Woosnam, the 1991 Masters champion, was one further adrift while the Czech-born Alexander Cejka, now a German citizen, shot a 77 on his American debut. Seve Ballesteros, who withdrew during the Players' Championship first round last week because of a back injury, continued his poor run of form with a 78 that included a quadruple-bogey at the ninth.

He hit his drive into the woods and played out sideways but when he reached the green realised he had played the wrong ball and incurred a penalty stroke. The Ryder Cup captain then went back into the woods, found the correct ball and three-putted for an eight.

The joint leaders are Corey Pavin, Jim Gallagher and John Wilson on 66 with Russ Cochran and Neal Lancaster a stroke further adrift. Pavin had birdies at the last three holes while Gallagher hit an eagle at the par- five 18th after hitting a three-iron second shot to eight feet.

"I didn't get off to a great start," Pavin said, "but I got up and down a few times and just hung in there and things started to fall into place."