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BRITISH OPEN | NOTES

Even for Montgomerie, This Is a Little Pessimistic

July 17, 1999|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — What is it about the British Open that spooks Colin Montgomerie? The finest golfer in Scotland, who should be knocking these familiar links courses dead, can't blame his problems on being unfamiliar with the surroundings, the food, the courses or the accommodations.

So after rounds of 74-76 for eight-over 150, Montgomerie found something else to blame: poor play.

"Disappointing," Montgomerie said after making bogey on three of the last four holes Friday at Carnoustie. "I'm out of the tournament. I didn't play very well, simple as that. I'm just playing for numbers unfortunately now."

The British Open numbers for Europe's best player have added up to something very disturbing. In his previous British Open appearances, Montgomerie, 36, has one top-10 finish--a tie for eighth at Turnberry in 1994--and he has missed five cuts.

In 28 rounds, Montgomerie is a combined 29 over par.

On the last hole Friday, Montgomerie's putt somehow stayed out of the hole and he couldn't believe it. Actually, the way things are going for him, he certainly could believe it.

"It just had to get there and it was in," Montgomerie said. "It got there and it broke left. I don't know how it did. It should have broken to the right, if anything, so that last putt summed it, I'm afraid."

There is only one thing for him to do, besides merely finishing the tournament, Montgomerie said. That would be to get ready for next month's PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

"So we'll just look forward to Medinah, I'm afraid, because this is gone now."

Rather discouraging words for someone only seven shots out of the lead.

Brian Watts, runner-up at last year's British Open, played in the same threesome with Montgomerie on Friday and his 73 left him three shots ahead of Montgomerie. Watts seemed surprised that Montgomerie thinks he's already done.

"I wouldn't say he's out of it," Watts said. "If he plays as he's capable of, then he's got a great shot at it."

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From David Duval, who barely made the cut at 12 over, asked if there is anything he has taken away from his British Open experience: "The hope that you don't have to encounter it again."

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There was a two-way tie for the tabloid Headline of the Day award.

From the story of the woman wearing very little who ran out on the 18th green and kissed Tiger Woods: "Strip Tees."

From Sergio Garcia's first-round 89 and being comforted by his mother: "Mum And Glummer."

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Jim Furyk has been fourth in the British Open the last two years and after his 71, he's only six shots behind leader Jean Van De Velde of France. Furyk believes he has a chance to win the British Open because he loves playing links golf and he hits the ball low in the wind.

Last week, Furyk played St. Andrews twice to get ready for next year's Open.

"I'd only played two rounds on that golf course and now I have four under my belt and I still have no idea where to hit it," Furyk said.

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