Monty finds Hilton sweet

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The Independent Online
Nick Faldo demonstrated exactly why he has won six major championships before mounting his challenge for the MCI Classic at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

He was red-eyed and ragged after completing a second round of 68 to remain in contention for another victory to add to last week's dramatic triumph over Greg Norman in the Masters; but his response to his caddie Fanny Sunesson was: "Let's go to the range and hit balls."

Faldo and Fanny were there for over an hour as he went through the repetitive, painstaking routine which has served him so well throughout his 20 years on the professional circuit. "It would be nice just to come off the course and relax, but this is my job and if I want to do it right, I have to work at it," said Faldo before attempting to trim a four-shot advantage held by the Americans Tom Watson and Jeff Sluman.

He added: "I guess you can now say I've got Augusta lag. Last week drained me physically and mentally but you cannot afford to back off in this game. I really began to feel it during the last four holes of the second round, I was free-wheeling. I tried to push myself to get going but there was nothing there."

His classic confrontation with Norman is still simmering, with the Australian on a four-under par 138, but the man in Faldo's sights now is his Ryder Cup partner Colin Montgomerie, who was menacingly placed just one shot off the lead after a 66.

Montgomerie is seeking his first win in the United States after losing play-offs for the US Open and PGA Championships, and he would like nothing better than to go head to head with Faldo for the $252,000 first prize.

He honestly believes he is poised to make his breakthrough with the tight, tree-lined Harbour Town course ideally suited to his precision game, as he proved by collecting nine birdies in his opening two rounds.

Montgomerie, who was a disappointing 39th in the Masters, said: "I would love to play with Nick in the final round. The greens got to me at Augusta and my putting problems fed through the rest of my game.

"But this course is more my scene, it demands pinpoint accuracy and you must plot your way around. It is very similar to a US Open layout and I tend to do very well in those kind of conditions. It was a mistake for me not to come here before, because it is set up for my game."