Major question mark for Montgomerie

Failure to qualify for the US Open and now a worst 36-hole score at Celtic Manor leaves the Scot struggling ahead of the British Open.

Colin Montgomerie, right, must rally himself for The British Open, which he has competed in 21 straight years.
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After failing this week to qualify for the US Open and a tired-looking display in the Saab Wales Open yesterday, Colin Montgomerie faces 36 more holes of qualifying on Monday, this time for a place in The British Open at Sandwich.

If he fails to make it through - he has succeeded so twice in the past - there may be a question mark as to whether he will play in another major in his career.

"I now have to make sure I qualify for The [British] Open next Monday, because that is very important to me," Montgomerie said. "I've played in The Open for 21 years in a row."

It was only last Sunday that the Scot, 48 later this month, finished seventh in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth - his first top-10 finish for almost three years.

But yesterday he crashed to his worst 36-hole score in Europe for more than 20 years at Celtic Manor - the same course where he led Europe to Ryder Cup victory last October. The eight-time European No 1 added a 79 to his opening 78 in the Wales Open and on 15-over par exited the event lying in joint last place.

"I'm not 25 any more, and the last few days have taken their toll," Montgomerie told reporters.

"Last week's finish [at Wentworth] unfortunately comes only once in a blue moon now, and here I've come back to earth with a bump.

Not since the 1991 Benson and Hedges International at St Mellion in 1991, when he shot 80-81 to be 17 over, has Montgomerie fared worse on European soil in his professional career. And he was only 110th on that occasion - this time he was in joint 153rd spot midway through the day's play.

Alexander Noren birdied four of the last five holes for a second round 4-under 67 to lead the tournament at 8 under.

Perhaps Montgomerie can take some solace in the fact that he was not the only golfer struggling this weekend, as Japan's Ryo Ishikawa missed the cut at the Japan Golf Tour Championship.

Ishikawa, at 19 almost 30 years younger than the Scot, struggled to finish 18 over, the worst card in his three-year old professional career.

But Ishikawa does have something Montgomerie does not have - an exemption for the US Open on June 16 in Bethesda, Maryland.

* Agencies