LOSING a ball up a tree for the first time in his career couldn’t have come at a worst possible time for Colin Montgomerie after he’d built up a nice head of steam in the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Four-under for the day and six-under for the tournament, the 1996 winner arrived on the 17th tee just five off the lead only to push his tee shot there and see the ball lodge itself in a palm tree.
“It was too high to get up and I’m too old to climb up and try to identify it,” said the Scot’s caddie, Alastair McLean. “I could see four balls up there, two in one tree and two in another, but couldn’t identify them.”
It left Montgomerie, who’d earlier picked up birdies at the first, third, seventh, tenth, 13th and 15th, to trudge back to the tee and he duly ran up a double-bogey 6.
To rub salt into his wounds, he then failed to convert a 12-foot birdie putt at the last, though, in fairness to him, there was a spike mark right in his line.
“What a bloody finish, 6-5,” he groaned despite the fact he comfortably made the cut in joint-31st, a fortnight after he also gave a decent account of himself in Abu Dhabi as he warms up for the start of his 2014 Champions Tour campaign in Florida next week.
“Disappointing to say the least, never happened to me before,” added the 50-year-old of his untimely tree trouble. “So that was upsetting. But I’m playing well – the game’s there, not bad – and and we’ll try again tomorrow.”
Still in the hunt, too, in addition to the two Scots on the event’s roll of honour – Montgomerie and defending champion Stephen Gallacher – are Chris Doak, Paul Lawrie and Scott Jamieson.
Doak, whose 68 beat Jamieson by one, and Lawrie (71) are both on five-under, the former revealing after his flawless effort that he’s been nursing a leg injury throughout the Middle East Swing after falling on his driveway at home in Glasgow.
“It was wet and I just slipped,” he said. “The physio guys here diagnosed a bruised bone but I’m not conscious of it when I’m swinging and it’s only sore in the morning. Besides, five pain-killers does the job (smiling).”
While Lawrie’s new putter earned its keep, the Aberdonian was bemused by his iron play. “They were just awful,” he declared. “I was hitting them fat and one 9-iron was so heavy that it didn’t even get halfway!”