Sam Torrance has only to make the half-way cut in the German Masters in Berlin today to be well placed to finish the year as the European No 1. The 42-year-old Scot's chances improved dramatically when Colin Montgomerie, complaining of tendon trouble in his left wrist, shot a four-over-par 76 in the first round, and then promptly withdrew from this lucrative tournament.
Montgomerie leads Torrance by a mere pounds 980 in the Order of Merit with just this event and the Volvo Masters in Valderrama to come. If Torrance can achieve a respectable finish on Sunday, he will lead the money table.
However, Torrance did not start particularly well, shooting a one-under- par 71 to finish the day in joint 51st place, seven shots behind the Swedish trio of Klas Eriksson, Per-Ulrik Johansson and Anders Forsbrand, and the South African Retief Goosen, who all shot 64.
Montgomerie began the round with two birdies in his first three holes, but then began to fall away. Despite reaching the turn in a one-under- par 36, the Scot shot a six at the long 13th and then dropped four shots in his last three holes for a disastrous 76, a score that only six other players in the 105-strong field failed to beat.
"I have had this problem for about five weeks," Montgomerie said later. "It's all down to playing too much, but I've been loath to stop playing because I want that No 1 spot. But a short rest will do me good."
Torrance was surprised by Montgomerie's withdrawal. "I had no idea because he didn't even tell me at the Ryder Cup when we played together on the second day. I heard he had dropped out when I had played nine holes, and I must admit I got very tense."
Torrance, of course, has not forgotten that Bernhard Langer, the winner of the European Open last Sunday, could still overhaul him if he won here and in Valderrama. Langer began the daunting task with an admirable 67 yesterday.
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