Montgomerie leaves the field in his wake

By wire services
Published October 7, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO - Coming off his first victory in 19 months, Colin Montgomerie appears hungry for more.

Montgomerie showed no effects from an emotional victory four days ago in Scotland, matching his career-low score in the United States with a 6-under 64 that gave him a three-shot lead Thursday in the American Express Championship.

Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and nine others were at 67 on a spectacular day at Harding Park, the municipal course along Lake Merced that got a $16-million makeover and held its own against the world's best players.

It was right up Montgomerie's alley.

He looked like the Monty of old with tee shots that split the tree-lined fairways, making the game look simple. The 42-year-old Scot ran off three straight birdies to close out the back nine, then added his lone birdie on the front with a wedge to 18 inches. What mattered more to him was no bogeys on his card.

"If I can hit fairways, I can hit greens," he said. "And then I can score."

Woods, who played Harding Park in junior high school when it was covered with weeds, stayed close until he stopped giving himself good chances, dropping a shot on the par-3 eighth and having to scramble for par at the end.

"If I shot something between 2- and 4-under par, I thought it would be pretty good," Woods said. "They've done a wonderful job tucking the pins. The greens are firm, so you've got to be careful."

John Daly was tied with Montgomerie late in the round, carried along by prodigious drives. None fired up the fans more than driving the 350-yard seventh hole as Woods was standing off to the side waiting for the eighth tee to clear.

Sadly for Daly, the epoxy on the hosel of his putter gave way late in the round, which contributed to three-putt bogeys on his final two holes for a 67. He was furious as he headed to the trailer to get it fixed.

"Ninth time this year," he said. "I am so sick of this."

LPGA: Cristie Kerr had consecutive eagles in a career-best 9-under 62 to take a four-stroke lead in the first round of the Longs Drugs Challenge in Auburn, Calif.

Kerr also had seven birdies and two bogeys. She played an eight-hole stretch in 9 under, highlighted by her eagles on Nos. 15 and 16.

Hall of Famer Beth Daniel, Becky Iverson, Lindsey Wright and Marilyn Lovander opened with 66s. Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 1-over 72.

EUROPEAN PGA: Argentina's Andres Romero and Sweden's Johan Skold shot 5-under 66s to share the first-round lead in the Abama Open de Canarias in Tenerife, Canary Islands.