Montgomerie reigns

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The Independent Online
Colin Montgomerie headed a European Ryder Cup charge when he shot a six-under-par 64 in the first round of the Lancome Trophy to lead Sam Torrance by one shot in difficult conditions in Paris yesterday.

Despite constant showers and blustery conditions, six of the nine Ryder Cup team on view, Montgomerie, Torrance (65), Seve Ballesteros (67), Bernhard Langer (70), David Gilford (70) and Costantino Rocca (70) shot par or better. The three others - Jose-Maria Olazabal (71), Howard Clark (72) and Mark James (73) - posted respectable scores.

It was a formidable response to recent criticisms of the European team. Montgomerie, leading the Order of Merit and recently beaten only in a play-off at the US PGA championship, has been having putting problems but he put all that behind him yesterday. Out in 31 and back in 33, the Scot, who has relaxed his grip when putting, had only 28 putts in a round that included eagle threes at both the eighth and 16th holes.

"I putted well today and it made all the difference," Montgomerie said. "In Germany two weeks ago I gave my putting three out of 10 and won the tournament. In Switzerland last week it was not much better, to be honest. But, today, well you can't shoot 64 without putting well."

Ian Woosnam, hoping to take Olazabal's place if he drops out of the Cup team, went round in the worst of the conditions in 69, one under par. He began with two successive bogeys but bounced back with four birdies and only one other bogey in his round.

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