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Child's play for monty.

Byline: By Mark Garrod

Colin Montgomerie moved into the lead, had "Happy Birthday" sung to him, was presented with a cake and was made to laugh by a youngster answering him back, writes.

Yet still the Scottish star came off not with a smile but a scowl after a second successive 68 in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

It was also a day when the North-East stayed in the picture with Kenneth Ferrie and Graeme Storm still in contention ( both lying five shots behind Monty on 141.

Ashington's US Open hero Kenneth Ferrie followed his first round 68 with a 73 and Storm, from Hartlepool, has shot 69 72.

Meanwhile, what Montgomerie really wanted on the day he became a 43-year-old was to finish on a high note ( and he palpably failed to do that.

Last Sunday, of course, his hopes of a first major title were dashed by a closing double bogey in the US Open.

He then spoilt his opening round this week with a bogey six at the 18th, so when he three-putted for 'only' a par five on his return to the course a worrying trend had not escaped his attention.

"I don't know what's going on there ( it's very disappointing to finish badly again," said Montgomerie.

"That's the third round in a row and that's not good. Not good at all. If I can't two-putt from 20 feet there's something wrong.

"Did it tarnish the US Open? Of course it did. Did it tarnish yesterday? Yes. Did it tarnish today? Yes it did."

Montgomerie had to see the funny side, however, of his exchange with a small boy at the back of a grandstand by the 18th green. Backing off his chip brought the normal request for 'Quiet please' from caddie Alastair McLean.

Some on-lookers thought they heard the boy say "I need the toilet" but Montgomerie heard it as "You be quiet" and fell into laughter.

"Well, that's a new one," he commented. "It's the first time I've actually been answered back by a two-year-old."

Once he had time to reflect on his 10-under-par halfway total Montgomerie could not be unhappy, especially when former Ryder Cup team-mate Thomas Bjorn, ahead by two overnight, then failed to rediscover the magic of his opening 65.

The Dane remained eight under with an outward 36, but as the wind picked up strength he bogeyed the 350-yard 11th, had a double-bogey seven on the long 12th and finished with a six to fall four behind following a 75.

Into second place came another golfer of undoubted quality, however, in England's Paul Casey. He also took seven on the 12th, but there were already three birdies and three more were to come for a 71.

The most remarkable stretch of golf came from Chilean Felipe Aguilar. Four over par and heading out of the event with 10 remaining he sank a five iron for an albatross two on the ninth, then birdied the next five.

Englishman Mark Foster missed the cut even with a hole-in-one on the 211-yard fourth, while 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie was disqualified for signing for a wrong score after slumping to a 78.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 24, 2006
Words:530
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