Ian Woosnam will not be allowed to keep the Scottish Open trophy if he wins it for a third time, although Colin Montgomerie is intent on making that issue irrelevant.
He wants to become the first Scot to take possession of it, but he has work to do if he is to finish as No 1 here. Woosnam, on two under, leads by three from Russell Claydon. Montgomerie is in a group four shots back. Paul Broadhurst was in the reckoning, too, until he shocked himself and everyone else by five-putting the last.
Woosnam, who shot 70, burst into the lead with a four-hole spell of two birdies and an eagle, for which he hit a glorious one-iron from 244 yards to six feet at the 12th. Having found the rough and been plugged in a bunker at the last, he holed from 25 feet for a bogey that ensured a comfortable overnight lead.
The Welshman is expecting a low comfort rating today. "Apparently, it is going to be another rough day," he said. "It will be a day for patience. I'm not saying I'm going to win because anything can happen. This is a course you have to be playing well on. I'm quite enjoying it." Woosnam reported an improvement in his driving, a condition he has put on catching Montgomerie at the top of the money list. Any words either utters on the subject should be treated with the same suspicion as those of Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher.
Montgomerie shot a 71, not too bad on paper, but the European No 1 read it differently. "It was fairly miserable stuff," he said. His mood was described as calm. He even tried to look on the bright side. "I suppose to shoot 71 was a gutsy effort on a course like this playing the way I was. To that extent it is encouraging. I chipped and putted as well as I have for a long time."
Once again, Montgomerie's "problem" was that everything was going right. "I'm going straight to the range and, as you know, I don't usually do that. I've got to get this sorted out. I've got to hit the ball straighter and get my confidence back, not only for tomorrow, but for next week."
The wind of the first two days has damaged more than one swing, unfortunate given the proximity of the Open Championship. The decision by the likes of Nick Faldo to prepare quietly away from the stress of battling a great golf course in unfriendly conditions is understandable.
For Broadhurst, stress is a word with only one more letter than he took putts on the final green. At one under par on the 18th tee, he was set for a last round battle with Woosnam. Two shots later and he was safely on the green, 40 feet from the hole. That was the difficult bit over with, you might assume.
Wrong. His first putt came up four feet short. The next was two feet away, and the one after back to four feet. Twice he had lipped out. Finally, he tapped in from 18 inches. "I suppose there is a first time for everything," Broadhurst said. "There were a lot of spike marks around the hole, but that's no excuse. I tried on every one. I might have done that when I was a kid."
That it was Sandy Lyle who took best advantage of the easing conditions was not a surprise, only because his inconsistency is his most consistent quality. Lyle, playing only because the cut rose to include the nine overs, became the first player to break 70 this week and his 68 matches the score he shot in the third round of the Irish Open last week. That was when he started using a broomhandle putter, and so far in five rounds he has yet to have a three-putt.
n The Americans John Cook, Kenny Perry and Scott Hoch have al decided have decided not to play in the Open. Cook was the runner-up to Nick Faldo at Muirfield in 1992 and the runaway winner of the St Jude Classic in Memphis three weeks ago.Reuse content