Friday, March 27, 2009

SEVILLE, Spain(AP) Colin Montgomerie celebrated his 500th European Tour event with a 5-under 67 on Thursday, leaving the Scottish star a stroke behind countryman Chris Doak after the first round of the Andalucia Open.

Doak had a bogey-free day to lead at 6 under at the Real Club de Golf de Sevilla.

Montgomerie was tied with fellow Scot Steven O'Hara, Jean-Francois Lucquin of France and Juan Parron of Spain, with six others another shot back.

``That's three tournaments in a row with a 67. Things are looking up,'' said Montgomerie, who is looking for his 32nd tour victory. ``It was a very nostalgic round. I was thinking about all sorts of things - my three PGA wins, eight Order of Merits ... and being Ryder Cup captain.

``I've thought about that every minute of every day since I was appointed.''

Montgomerie, Europe's 2010 Ryder Cup captain, had four birdies over his first six holes after starting on the back side.

The 45-year-old Scot then bogeyed the 16th after landing in the water, but recovered by sinking back-to-back birdie putts on the 18th and first to get to 5 under. Montgomerie, who credited a switch to a belly putter for his improved putting, holed from nearly 20 feet for another birdie at the fifth after a bogey at the previous hole.

``People say that being Ryder Cup captain will hurt my game, but I think exactly the opposite. I've been looking for ways to relax on the course and I think I've found it,'' said Montgomerie, who has 182 top-10 finishes but none since last the French Open last June. He has slipped to 137th in the world rankings, which will keep him from qualifying for next month's Masters.

``I have to try and get back in the top 50, that's the goal for the season. If I can do that, gain 80 spots in a year, that will be a very good effort,'' Montgomerie said.

Five shots separated the first 51 players in the 156-strong field, with two local favorites in danger of missing the cut at the $1.35 million event. Course designer Jose Maria Olazabal and host Miguel Angel Jimenez were both tied for 88th at 74.

You May Like