Monty blows a fuse

Golf
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The skill in golf, as Colin Montgomerie put it earlier this week, "is in hitting the ball on to the fairway, and then hitting it on the green." This the Scot failed to do on the first hole at Druids Glen yesterday. Montgomerie, the overnight leader in the Murphy's Irish Open, drove into the bunker on the right and found his ball buried in the sand.

Montgomerie was not on the green in four and opened with a double-bogey six. At the third his drive landed short of the fairway and three shots had gone in three holes. His ire was taken out of on camera-carrying members of the gallery. "If you don't put that away, I'll wrap it round your . . ." he told one.

After a 73, which left him on two under par along with Lee Westwood and Miguel Martin, one behind Andrew Oldcorn, Montgomerie said: "It was a poor start but to birdie the 17th was good. I've won from further behind than one shot and I'm still confident. There was a problem with cameras at the start, it was dark and the flashes were going off, but it was sorted out."

One over for the day when a rainstorm caused a 45-minute delay, during which he joined an impromptu game of cricket with Wayne Riley and Westwood, Oldcorn resumed by hitting a six-iron to eight feet at the short 12th. Three more birdies followed a three-putt at the 13th, but trying to chip from the front fringe with a three-wood, a tactic he had used successfully twice before this week, cost him a bogey at the final hole. "The break came at a good time for me," said the 36-year-old Bolton-born Scot, who has won twice on tour. "I had lost a bit of rhythm. On this course you have to be mentally switched on for every hole. You have to put your head down and work. I'd love to play with Monty tomorrow. If you beat him in these situations, you have a good chance to win."

The day's best score was a 68 from Sandy Lyle, who switched successfully to a long-handled putter. "That was my most enjoyable round of the year," said Lyle, who held the clubhouse lead at one over for much of the day. "I've not been happy with the way I've been playing, and putting has been a big part of that. I've been averaging 33 putts a round, and today I had 31 so that's an improvement. I feel I've achieved something."

His round included an eagle at the fifth, where he hit a drive and a four-iron to eight feet. But at the 11th, another par-five, Lyle, playing only his fourth event in Europe after spending most of the season in America, three-putted for a par. Lyle, who also missed from six feet at the next, said: "I first used the long putter at Mount Juliet [a past Irish Open venue], and I suppose being back in Ireland was part of my decision."

To complete the Scottish picture, Gordon Sherry, the former Amateur champion, returned a 69, his best score as a professional, and had the honour of being the only player on the day not to drop a shot to par.

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