Tough day for Montgomerie

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The Independent Online
Golf

Every shot, every pound is vital, Colin Montgomerie has often declared in his campaign to win a fourth successive Order of Merit title and none more so than yesterday. Monty birdied two of the last four holes to be around for the weekend at the Smurfit European Open.

At three over, he was 10 behind the joint leaders Costantino Rocca and Jim Payne, but missing the cut would have handed Ian Woosnam a blank cheque to cut the Scot's pounds 140,000 lead at the top of the Volvo Ranking.

Whether he retains his No1 position or not, Montgomerie has decided on one thing: he will relinquish his title unopposed. "Four in a row is quite enough," Monty said. "I won't chase it so hard next year. This is putting too much stress on me, my wife and my children. This is very, very hard work."

Yesterday was not a good day in the office. In his first 12 holes, Montgomerie had only one deviation from par, but sadly that was a double bogey seven at the seventh, the result of a third shot into the lake. Then at the par-five 13th, he failed to get up and down from a bunker and he dropped another at the next, where he left his chip short and missed the putt.

The ball hovered on the lip of the hole for more than 20 seconds before he tapped it in. His face, wet as it was after another sudden torrential downpour, gave a transparent a view of his feelings. "The hole seemed about two inches across today," Monty, who took 35 putts, said. He did birdie the 15th, but missed from six feet at the next. His eagle attempt from 50 feet at the last looked in until the final moment, when it swung right, ran round the edge of the hole and finished directly behind.

His motivation to make the cut could be simply summed up: "Ian Woosnam," Monty said. The Welshman himself struggled and his 72 leaves him one shot ahead of Monty, whose frustration was increased by playing with Paul Broadhurst. His partner equalled Padraig Harrington's course record 65 to move one behind the leaders, but, Harrington slipped back with a 73.

Rocca and Payne took advantage of calmer conditions in the morning to add second rounds of 70 and 69 respectively. Payne, by his own omission, has too often been battling the cut this summer. "It's been a long time since I've been in contention," he said. To be precise, the last time was when he won the Italian Open in May.

Without that win, Payne would not be playing now because his medical exemption was about to run out and he did not have enough money to keep his card.

SMURFIT EUROPEAN OPEN (K Club, Co Kildare) Leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 137 C Rocca (It) 67 70, J Payne 68 69; 138 M A Martin (Sp) 69 69, P Broadhurst 73 65, P Harrington 65 73; 139 R Davis (Aus) 69 70, A Coltart 71 68; 140 R Russell 70 70, D Robertson 70 70; 141 R Chapman 72 69, P-U Johannson (Swe) 71 70, R Burns 72 69, M Welch 69 72, M Tunnicliff 68 73; 142 P O'Malley (Aus) 69 73, R Muntz (Neth) 74 68, G Nicklaus (US) 71 71, S Lyle 73 69, B Langer (Ger) 71 71, N Fasth (Swe) 66 76, A Cabrera (Arg) 66 76, L Westwood 70 72, P Haugsrud (Nor) 71 71, M A Jimenez (Sp) 72 70, M Jonzon (Swe) 68 74, J Heggarty 72 70, A Bossert (Swi) 71 71; 143 J Coceres (Arg) 72 71, D Chopra (Swe) 73 70, T Bjorn (Den) 74 69, D Higgins 73 70, B Lane 70 73, A Hunter 72 71, D Carter 74 69, J Spence 73 70, P McGinley 70 73, P Mitchell 73 70, T Lehman (US) 74 69, D Cooper 76 67, S Struver (Ger) 73 70; 144 P Baker 74 70, D Clarke 72 72, M Mackenzie 71 73, R Boxall 71 73, E Romero (Arg) 73 71, J M Canizares (Sp) 71 73; 145 D Hospital (Sp) 72 73, I Garrido (Sp) 72 73, S Cage 72 73, G Brand Jnr 69 76, D Borrego (Sp) 69 76; 146 I Pyman 73 73, P Curry 76 70, M McLean 71 75, E Canonica (It) 74 72, S Field 71 75, M Besanceney (Fr) 73 73, I Woosnam 74 72, E Darcy 73 73, S Tinning (Den) 71 75, D Gilford 75 71, R Wessels (SA) 70 76, P Eales 72 74; 147 S Bottomley 77 70, M Gronberg (Swe) 73 74, C Cevaer (Fr) 73 74, P Sjoland (Swe) 75 72, S McAllister 76 71, J Bickerton 77 70, K Eriksson (Swe) 75 72, R Green (Aus) 72 75, C Montgomerie 73 74, A Kankkonen (Fin) 76 71; 148 M Mouland 75 73, G Emerson 74 74, M Roe 72 76, M James 75 73, R Rafferty 76 72, C Suneson (Sp) 75 73, S Luna (Sp) 75 73, F Cea (Sp) 72 76, M Lanner (Swe) 75 73, G Clark 74 74, G Turner (NZ) 75 73, S Richardson 74 74, D J Russell 74 74.

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