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  Friday, 20 July, 2001, 04:12 GMT 05:12 UK
Montgomerie the main man again
Colin Montgomerie
Montgomerie is out to prove a point at Royal Lytham
Colin Montgomerie reckons there is plenty more to come as he defends his three-shot lead in the second round of The Open on Friday.

The Scot, who fired a six-under-par 65 on the opening day, said only two months ago that he was on the verge of a new era in his game.

Montgomerie's promising start to the tournament at Royal Lytham seems to back his claims.

It was his best first round ever in The Open and only four players have held a bigger lead at the same stage.

It was at Wentworth in May that Montgomerie raised a few eyebrows by insisting he was not a spent force and that his best years were yet to come.


All this is a good start
Colin Montgomerie
It was at a time when he had been knocked off his perch as European number one after seven years by Lee Westwood and had gone a full year without a European Tour victory.

"I feel that I'm entering a new chapter in my career," he said at the time.

"I think my best golfing days are still ahead, I'm not just saying that - I really do believe it.

" I am as keen as ever and in the six years that I possibly have left of competing at this level I do feel I have my best golf yet to play."

This was said in spite of a loss of form - and weight - not helped by marital problems that brought about a trial separation from wife Eimear.

Fighting fit

Now it appears the 38-year-old is having the last laugh when he takes to the green on Friday afternoon.

But the Montgomerie is not taking anything for granted yet and played down his blistering start.

"All this is is a good start," Montgomerie said.

"I've never dreamt about any Thursday at an Open. But I've had a couple of dreams about Sundays."

Some newspapers have claimed Montgomerie's improved form is something to do with his recent weight gain and the overnight leader agreed they could have a point.

Mikko Ilonan
Mikko Ilonan is three shots behind
"I think we all have a sort of fighting weight, if you like. Obviously, leading The Open right now, there is nothing wrong with the weight right now.

"I lost a lot of weight toward the end of last year. I have put on half of that again and it must help with the timing, yes, sure."

American pair Brad Faxon and Chris Di Marco and Finland's Mikko Ilonen, the former British amateur champion, are three shots behind.

And 16 players were another shot back on two under par including England's Justin Rose, David Duval, Jose Maria Olazabal and Jesper Parnevik.

However, defending champion Tiger Woods has a lot of catching up to do after his level par 71.

Darren Clarke did well to salvage a 70 after a double bogey on the first to keep his hopes alive but Lee Westwood was facing a battle to make the cut after a 73.

Parnevik and Westwood make an early start on Friday as the second round gets under way.

 LIVE WEBCASTS
Colin Montgomerie has more to prove as he defends his three-shot lead in the second round of The Open.
Colin Montgomerie reckons there is plenty more to come as he defends his three-shot lead in the second round of The Open on Friday. <P> The Scot, who fired a six-under-par 65 on the opening day, said only two months ago that he was on the verge of a new era in his game. <P> Montgomerie's promising start to the tournament at Royal Lytham seems to back his claims. <P> It was his best first round ever in The Open and only four players have held a bigger lead at the same stage. <P> It was at Wentworth in May that Montgomerie raised a few eyebrows by insisting he was not a spent force and that his best years were yet to come. <P> <CPS:BOX> <CPS:QUOTE>All this is a good start</CPS:QUOTE> <CPS:NAME>Colin Montgomerie </CPS:NAME> </CPS:BOX>It was at a time when he had been knocked off his perch as European number one after seven years by Lee Westwood and had gone a full year without a European Tour victory. <P> <P> "I feel that I'm entering a new chapter in my career," he said at the time. <P> "I think my best golfing days are still ahead, I'm not just saying that - I really do believe it. <P> " I am as keen as ever and in the six years that I possibly have left of competing at this level I do feel I have my best golf yet to play." <P> This was said in spite of a loss of form - and weight - not helped by marital problems that brought about a trial separation from wife Eimear. <P> <B>Fighting fit</B> <P> Now it appears the 38-year-old is having the last laugh when he takes to the green on Friday afternoon. <P> But the Montgomerie is not taking anything for granted yet and played down his blistering start. <P> "All this is is a good start," Montgomerie said. <P> "I've never dreamt about any Thursday at an Open. But I've had a couple of dreams about Sundays." <P> Some newspapers have claimed Montgomerie's improved form is something to do with his recent weight gain and the overnight leader agreed they could have a point. <P> <CPS:IMAGE ORDER="2"></CPS:IMAGE>"I think we all have a sort of fighting weight, if you like. Obviously, leading The Open right now, there is nothing wrong with the weight right now. <P> "I lost a lot of weight toward the end of last year. I have put on half of that again and it must help with the timing, yes, sure." <P> American pair Brad Faxon and Chris Di Marco and Finland's Mikko Ilonen, the former British amateur champion, are three shots behind. <P> And 16 players were another shot back on two under par including England's Justin Rose, David Duval, Jose Maria Olazabal and Jesper Parnevik. <P> However, defending champion Tiger Woods has a lot of catching up to do after his level par 71. <P> Darren Clarke did well to salvage a 70 after a double bogey on the first to keep his hopes alive but Lee Westwood was facing a battle to make the cut after a 73. <P> Parnevik and Westwood make an early start on Friday as the second round gets under way. <P>

Launch The Open Leaderboard

Tiger Woods - hole-by-hole details
Woods' round in detail

The 130th Open, at Royal Lytham

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