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Less laughter this week in Europe

There is a lot less laughter in the locker room.

European golf resumes Thursday with the Lancome Trophy, the tour's first event since terrorist attacks in the United States. The last event was the European Masters, which ended Sept. 9.

``It has taken over everyone's life and everyone has been hit very hard by it,'' Colin Montgomerie said. ``We are all quite flat and it will take a number of weeks, months, years to get back to the way we were.''

Since the violence in New York and Washington, the Ryder Cup was postponed for a year.

``Sport is a very minor part of what is going on right now,'' Montgomerie said. ``But we have to keep doing our jobs and we have to keep going.''

The main sponsor, Lancome cosmetics, wanted the tournament called off. But IMG, which owns the tournament, overruled. Lancome wound up cutting its role and said it did not want its name linked with tournament advertising.

The gloom surrounding the tournament did not abate, with rain forcing the traditional pro-am to be scrapped.

Four of the 12 players who were to play for Europe against the United States at The Belfry are in the Lancome: Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia, Philip Price and Niclas Fasth.

Another, Thomas Bjorn, pulled out because of a neck injury. Also, the spirit wasn't there.

``There will be an element of just going through the motions,'' he said. ``A missed 3-foot putt does not seem to matter much right now.''

The U.S. tour also resumes this week at the Pennsylvania Classic, where six American Ryder Cup players and their captain, Curtis Strange, are playing.

Many of golf's top players were in St. Louis last week when the attacks occurred. The tournament was canceled and some returned to Europe on a charter Saturday.

``It will be a different atmosphere ... in any event around the world, whether it is sporting or otherwise right now,'' Montgomerie said. ``But at the same time I feel we have to carry on some time, and this is probably the thing to do, to play competitively and see what happens.''

Montgomerie, winner of the Irish Open and the Scandinavian Masters this year, has not played since an 18-hole practice round in St. Louis.

The defending champion is Retief Goosen, the South African who won the U.S. Open this year.

``I have had two weeks off now,'' he said. ``I am keen to get going. I think a lot of players are now.''

Montgomerie and Garcia plan to return to the United States this year to play. Montgomerie is to make the trip twice, for a Skins Game late in November and the Tiger Woods event, the Williams Challenge, in mid-December.

Goosen plans to play the European and U.S. tours next year and is not worried about flying.

``It is time now for everybody to somehow get back to business,'' he said. ``That is the only way of healing what is going on. Leave it up to the politicians to sort this out and let the rest of us go ahead with it.''


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