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Montgomerie could miss Open

Colin Montgomerie might be forced to withdraw from next month's Open because of a persistent back injury.

Montgomerie, who finished at 6-under-par at the Irish Open on Sunday, said he was doubtful for his next three tournaments -- the European Open at The K Club, The Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and the Open at Muirfield, July 18-21.

``The next three are in doubt,'' Montgomerie said. ``I'm going home now to find out if I can play.

``The last 2 1/2 rounds I didn't hit a shot.''

Montgomerie said his back problem, which first troubled him during the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in May, was making swinging the club difficult.

Montgomerie required medical treatment midway through the second round on the Fota Island course Friday, but still shot a second successive 67. He fired a 74 Saturday and closed with a 1-under-par 70 Sunday.

``I can't compete if I can't get through the ball, and I can't get through the ball,'' Montgomerie said.

``In order to compete the way I'm playing at the moment, I'd have to go round in 18 putts. I just can't hit through the ball.''

Three-time champion Seve Ballesteros withdrew from the Open on Friday.

Ballesteros, who has won five majors, gave no reason for withdrawing. He has played in the last 27 Opens, missing the cut the last six years.

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