Sun, Dec 12, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Montgomerie battles with Tiger

PRO GOLF Tiger Woods and Colin Montgomerie established themselves as the front-runners with stretches of great play and few mistakes to each shoot 5-under 66 and the lead

AP , THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIAAP, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIAAP, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

Colin Montgomerie walked off the 18th green in a tie for the lead with Tiger Woods at the Target World Challenge on Friday, and someone told him the tournament was in his hands.

Montgomerie demurred. "It's in Tiger's hands," he said with a smile.

Seven years after they were first paired together in the final group going into the weekend, Woods and Montgomerie established themselves as the front-runners with stretches of great play and minimal mistakes to each shoot 5-under 66.

Montgomerie birdied five of his first seven holes, then had to scramble for a bogey on the 18th hole to salvage a share of the lead at Sherwood Country Club. Woods made five birdies in a six-hole stretch in the middle of his round, disappointed in making only one birdie on the par 5s.

They were at 9-under 133 and were two shots clear of Jim Furyk (68) and Jay Haas (66).

Woods and Montgomerie first played together in the third round of the 1997 Masters, Woods' professional debut in the majors. Woods had a three-shot lead going into the weekend, but Montgomerie felt he might have the advantage having contended in more majors.

It was such a blowout -- Woods shot 65, Montgomerie a 74 -- that the Scot came into the media center at Augusta National without invitation to give his take on the 21-year-old Woods.

"There is no chance -- we're all human beings here -- no chance humanly possible that Tiger Woods is going to lose this tournament," Monty gushed.

Australian David McKenzie, who missed qualifying for his US PGA tour card by one shot six days ago, had an 8-under-par 64 yesterday to take a two-stroke lead after the third round.

McKenzie, winless in 10 years on the Australasian PGA tour, has a three-round total of 17-under 199 at Huntingdale. Second-round leader and two-time Masters champion Bradley Hughes of Australia is in second place at 15-under 201 after a 66.

Defending champion Robert Allenby is in third at 14-under, three back of McKenzie after a 68. Australians Peter Lonard and Brad Kennedy are tied for fourth, four shots behind McKenzie.

Lonard, trying to become the first player to win the Australian "Slam" of the Open, PGA and Masters in one season, shot 67 while Kennedy had a 66. Lonard has won three tournaments in a row, including the Australian Open two weeks ago and the Australian PGA last Sunday.

Lonard came from five shots off the lead in the final round of the Australian Open, and three off the lead at the PGA.

"I don't think it really matters up until the last couple of holes tomorrow," Lonard said of his chances for the Slam.

Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng fired a five-under-par 67 on Saturday to share the third round lead with Taiwan's Wang Ter-chang at the Volvo Masters of Asia.

Prayad's compatriot Chawalit Plaphol birdied his last four holes for a 68 to earn third place, two off the pace, leaving overnight leader Jyoti Randhawa of India in third place after a poor 74 in an error-ridden round at the Asian Tour's season ending event.

Wang scrambled to a 69 to share the top spot with Prayad on 12-under-par 204 at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.

Prayad was in his element with a bogey-free round but needed to make two par saves on 16 and 17, putting him in the title race.

Praywad said he was "99 percent confident" of ending his four-year title drought in Malaysia.

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