Rivals turn Monty green

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Long before Paul Broadhurst and Costantino Rocca had even got to the first tee, let alone taken the lead in the Smurfit European Open at 10 under par, the main protagonists of the battle for the Volvo Ranking title were enjoying the substantial lunch that the K Club has to offer.

Broadhurst, with a 68, and then Rocca, with a 69, completed their third rounds in the gloaming of an autumnal and ultimately wet afternoon. Colin Montgomerie had enjoyed the rarity of an 8.30 Saturday morning tee time. On such an occasion he would expect to zip round the course in good time and yesterday was no different.

Monty and his playing partner, Australia's Richard Green, were done in a little over three hours. Anssi Kankkonen, a not-so- flying Finn was playing with a marker at the head of the field, and they were off to the races.

Or, at least, Green was. For the second successive day, Montgomerie signed the card of a course-record equalling 65. Monty had partnered Broadhurst on Friday and it now seems strange that Padraig Harrington could have set the mark on Thursday without the close attention of the Scot.

Montgomerie birdied three of the last six holes in his 69 and leapfrogged back ahead of Ian Woosnam, who is again suffering from the spondylosis in his back. The Welshman's only birdie came at the par-five last in a 74 and is three shots back.

Both Monty and Woosnam are due to play in the Linde German Masters in Berlin this week. But Woosie said: "If my back continues like this, I may not play." Although a first prize of pounds 150,000 is available in the final event, the Volvo Masters, that could hand the No1 spot to Montgomerie for the fourth time.

Despite three birdies in his first four holes, Rocca, the joint halfway leader, came under pressure from three sides. Per- Ulrik Johansson shot a 66 to be one behind, but the main danger is Broadhurst, poised for a win after having five top-10s in his last seven tournaments.

The Midlander, whose rhythm has improved after working with the coach Montgomerie has temporarily forsaken, Bill Ferguson, did not drop a shot. "It's funny, I hit the ball terribly on the range but I played really well," he said.

Andrew Coltart, two shots back after a bogey at the 16th in his 69, was only two feet away with his tee shot at the par-three 12th. Michael Welch had more luck at the 173-yard 17th, holing his seven-iron to win a pounds 19,000 Renault Laguna Grandtour car.