Monty poised to end lean spell at the Irish Open

CORK, Ireland, AP

Colin Montgomerie stretched his lead to three shots over Australian Adam Scott with a 3-under-par 68 in the third round of the Irish Open at Fota Island Saturday. Two ahead at the start of the round, Montgomerie birdied the 4th, 5th and 6th holes to lead by four. But Scott, who made seven birdies in a 66, drew level with him before bogeys at the two par-5s on the back nine, the 10th and 18th, dragged him back. Montgomerie also bogeyed the 10th and the 13th, but three birdies on the back nine gave him a 54-hole total of 13-under 200. “I’m where I want to be. I expect to win it now, of course I do,” he said. Scott is second on 203 and has his eye on Monty. “I want to chase him down. It makes me want to play even better,” Scott replied. There is a three-way tie for third place on 205 between Gary Emerson (67) and Anthony Wall (71) of England, and Fredrik Henge (70) of Sweden. Montgomerie said Friday his third-round target was to maintain his two-stroke lead, but after three successive birdies from the 4th he was four strokes ahead of four players. Scott, playing five holes in front of the Scot, continued the chase and caught him when Montgomerie bogeyed the 7th and 10th holes. “The 10th was silly. I went for a shot I shouldn’t have and went into the water,” the Scot said. But three more birdies against one bogey left him three in front playing the last, a par-5 where he made eagle and birdie in the first two rounds. This time he could only make par, his drive catching the rough to make reaching the green in two impossible. “Well if I were Adam, I’d be chasing down whoever is leading. But I have been there to be shot at for a long time in Europe and I’ve coped quite well in the past,” Montgomerie said. Victory for Montgomerie, currently 13th on the European Ryder Cup qualifying list, would boost him well into the top 10. That group earns automatic selection for the September matches against the Americans. Scott, a 20-year-old Queenslander whose coach Butch Harmon also coaches Tiger Woods, charged out with four birdies on the first eight holes on approach shots that finished very close. A bogey-6 at the 10th derailed him briefly and Montgomerie, playing five holes behind him, was four shots ahead. But Scott birdied the 12th, 14th and 16th to get close again. But a second bogey 6 at the 18th kept Scott from finishing closer, even though Montgomerie could only par there. Scott said he was disappointed with the bogeys at 10 and 18. “More so the 18th, because I’d put the 10th behind me. But a birdie at the last would have put me right in there with Monty for tomorrow.” Both bogeys came when he drove into rough and hit his second shot into water and then failed to get up and down after penalty drops. Scott won the Alfred Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg in January. “I was physically playing better then but I think mentally I am a much better player now. I just keep learning so much each week and that makes me a much better player.”