After winning his second-round match 5 and 4 over Stewart Cink during Fridays marathon at the WGC/Accenture Match Play Championship, Montgomerie and Stephen Leaney of Australia were all square after 17 holes of their third-round match.
On the par-5 18th, Montgomerie hit his approach shot into a bunker on the left side of the green, drawing a few groans of Oh, Monty! from the gallery.
Getting out would be tricky because Montgomerie had little green to work with. But he never got out, his ball thudding into the turf overhang at the top of the trap and trickling back down into the sand. It was the deciding shot of a match that Leaney would win by sinking a short putt to save par while Montgomerie finished with bogey.
OK, so Monty did at least stick around San Diego longer than he had in the past. In four previous appearances at La Costa, he made it out of the first round only once, in 2000, and then lost his second-round match in 23 holes to Thomas Bjorn.
No, not really, the Scot said before heading to the airport. But never mind.
Montgomerie said he was tired from fighting the flu and diarrhea, which he said he caught during the Malaysian Open last week.
Thats never the best preparation for trying to play golf, he said. Thirty-six holes a day is no fun feeling like that. But never mind.
Montgomerie finally conceded that it wasnt a total drag, having won two matches and $115,000.
It is more so than I had this time last year which is something, he said.
Earlier in the day, Monty was brilliant in beating Cink, with seven birdies and no bogeys in 14 holes.
That is the best I have played here without a doubt, he said after that match.
Then, in perhaps a portent of things to come, he said: It is important in match play not to give holes away as I have tended to do here in the past.
But, as Monty might say, never mind.
Two rounds had to be played Friday after heavy rain postponed Thursdays play.
Lefty on the Loose
Phil Mickelson continued his career-best start to a season, guaranteeing his fifth consecutive top-10 finish by beating British Open champion Ben Curtis, 7 and 6, in the second round and Chris DiMarco, 3 and 2, in the third.
Mickelson, the No. 6 seeded player, said hes driving the ball better than he ever has.
I missed three fairways today out of the 26 fairway attempts, which for me is exceptional and imperative given how thick the rough is out here, said Mickelson, who credits his better driving to a mechanical change that swing coach Rick Smith came up with.
Mickelson had one bogey in his two rounds Friday, when he three-putted the ninth in his match against DiMarco.
For the most part, because Ive kept it in play, the course seems to be so much easier. I think after 33 years Ive figured that out, he said, laughing.
Mickelson, who won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on Jan. 25, will play No. 3-seeded Davis Love III in the quarterfinals Saturday morning.
Rain, Rain Go Away...
It turned out to be a mild day of sunshine, enough good weather to squeeze in the second and third rounds at La Costa Resort.
It sure didnt start that way.
Padraig Harrington, Peter Lonard and Bob Estes were among those on the practice range at 6:15 a.m. when dark clouds moved in and players were told to leave the range -- not only because of lightning, but hail.
By the time the first matches were under way, however, skies were blue.
Suddenly, Vijay Singh is heading in the wrong direction.
Singh had 12 consecutive top 10s with his victory earlier this month at Pebble Beach, two short of the modern-day record held by Jack Nicklaus.
But he missed the cut at the Buick Invitational, tied for 24th at the Nissan Open and his second-round loss Friday at the Match Play Championship gave him a tie for 17th.
Singh never trailed in beating Shingo Katayama. He never led against Jerry Kelly, losing 4 and 3.
I knew if I kept on getting it in the fairway and getting it on the green, I was going to put pressure on him, Kelly said. He tried to sneak it between pins and he got caught.
Friend and Enemy
Davis Love III hates losing, but its not much fun beating a friend.
He was paired against Fred Couples in the second round, and Love led the entire way in a 3-and-2 victory.
You dont want to knock your friend out, but you also dont want to get beat, Love said. Its hard to go out and be mean about it and get tough, but I enjoyed playing with him.
And they left the course as friends, as always.
Hes still coming to my house next week and going to a wedding and playing a tournament in Florida, Love said. Nothing changes.
World No. 17 Fredrik Jacobson never played the final four holes in his three matches. He won his first two matches 5 and 4 before losing by the same score to Tiger Woods in the third round. Woods has won nine consecutive matches in the Match Play Championship to push his career record to 17-3. He won here last year. The quarterfinals and semifinals are both scheduled for Saturday, and the forecast is for partly sunny and cool, with breezes in the afternoon.
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