Montgomerie soars in Munich

Nothing was going to stop Colin Montgomerie flying from Munich to Glasgow for a Robbie Williams concert tonight – and only something extraordinary will now prevent Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal earning Ryder Cup places tomorrow.

Nothing was going to stop Colin Montgomerie flying from Munich to Glasgow for a Robbie Williams concert tonight – and only something extraordinary will now prevent Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal earning Ryder Cup places tomorrow.

A third round 66 at the BMW International Open lifted Montgomerie into contention for the 40th win of his professional career.

Montgomerie, up from 12th to joint second but still three behind Ryder Cup team-mate David Howell, then rushed from signing his scorecard to a private jet so he could be on stage at 9.30pm before flying back again.

“People say I’m mad, but I’m not singing. Don’t worry,” said the Scot during the briefest television interview he has probably ever given.

As he departed McGinley and Olazabal – both far away themselves – could reflect on the fact they are heavily odds-on now to hang on to their cup spots.

Their fate had been left in other people’s hands, McGinley because he missed the halfway cut and Olazabal because he controversially chose to go quail-hunting instead.

Paul Broadhurst, Thomas Bjorn and Johan Edfors were the only three who could have changed things, however, and after today’s performances they need one of the lowest rounds of their lives just to have a chance.

And in the case of Edfors it might have to be one of the lowest rounds of anybody’s life.

Bjorn has to win and after starting the day in 29th place he climbed to eighth, but then had a bogey and a double bogey for a 71 that dropped him back to 39th.

The Dane could still make it as a wild card, although Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood are the two favourites, but Broadhurst and Edfors accept they have no chance of that.

Broadhurst, winner of his only two games when he last played against the Americans in 1991, had a 67 for six under, but will go into the final 18 holes in 30th place and has to be third at worst.

“It looks like I might retire unbeaten,” he said, working out that only a closing 63 or better could earn him a second cap now.

Edfors, who has won three times this season, came into the week requiring a second place finish, but a 72 killed off that hope. He was lying 54th and commented: “I lost my tempo – and then I lost my temper.”

He and Broadhurst have had to visit the European tour qualifying school in recent years, so will see getting close to the Ryder Cup as a feat in itself.

Not so Bjorn, three times a runner-up in majors and twice on winning teams.

“If I miss out I’ll be devastated,” he said.

He believes Clarke should be a certainty and it is between Westwood and himself for the second captain’s pick.

“If I was captain that’s the way I’d be thinking – and that’s the talk amongst everybody,” said Bjorn.

Clarke, of course, lost his wife to cancer only three weeks ago, but has declared himself available for selection.

“If he’s ready to play that’s great,” added Bjorn. “I can’t see a team without him. He’s one of the three or four best ball-strikers in the game and you want those guys there.

“Lee and I have been friends for 10 years and when it comes to a week like this it’s difficult to put friendship aside and battle it out. But there’s been no banter about it between us because it means too much.

“If I don’t win tomorrow then Woosie has got to make a difficult decision and one of us is going to be disappointed.

“I’ve been in the situation twice before where it’s gone away from me when I thought I could be part of it. I know how to handle it, but I would have my reasons to feel disappointed if I miss out again.

“I’m not going to say now what they are. I’ll say on Sunday if that’s the way it is.”

Could it be that K Club memories play a decisive part in Woosnam’s decision?

Westwood has won on the Ryder Cup course twice, whereas Bjorn is always going to be linked for taking 11 on the penultimate hole when joint leader of the European Open last year.

As well as finishing with an 86 that day he has also walked off the other course at the venue two years ago because he was “fighting demons” and chose not to return there this summer.

But it ought to be remembered that prior to that nightmare ending 14 months ago he had played one of the most impressive rounds of his career to lead by four after 54 holes – and also won a £100,000 diamond for his wife Pernilla previously for playing the par fives in 14 under.

Whatever Woosnam decides, he is entitled to feel happy with how the team is shaping up for their attempt at what would be an unprecedented third successive victory over the Americans.

Defending champion Howell had a 66 to go top – and was disappointed at the end because he was three clear before hooking into water on the last and taking a bogey six.

Montgomerie is joint second with another member of the side, Padraig Harrington, and little-known Swede Martin Erlandsson.

Harrington had a 64, his lowest round in a European tour event for nearly four years. And, unlike Montgomerie, moving into contention made him change his plans.

The Dubliner had been thinking of going to the Republic of Ireland match with Germany in Stuttgart 135 miles away, but said: “I think I’ll probably try to find an Irish pub to watch it.

“Unfortunately when you’re doing well at a tournament you don’t travel around the world for two hours.

“These are the side-effects when you’re in contention. You have to be disciplined and go to bed early and all that stuff.” Tell that to Montgomerie.

Howell commented: “Interesting way to prepare. Fair play to him – I hope he has a great time. Hopefully I’ll get to bed before he does.”

Swede Henrik Stenson, also K Club-bound, is joint fifth, while Westwood moved into a tie for 13th with four closing birdies.

Considering he is recovering from suspected tonsilitis and would not have played but for speaking with Woosnam on Tuesday, the Worksop golfer is delighted with his effort – even more so because he had to switch drivers after breaking one at the start of the second round.

He was planning nothing as wild as Montgomerie for his Saturday night entertainment. A wild card tomorrow night will do instead.

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