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Montgomerie livid after nightmare start

Colin Montgomerie stormed out of the Gary Player Country Club after making the sort of nightmare start which even weekend hackers dread on the first hole of the Ned-bank Challenge at Sun City.

But, unlike club golfers, the Scot had a scorer following him around whose intervention made a bad result worse, and he refused to attend a post-round press conference.

Montgomerie thought he had recorded a triple-bogey seven at the 411-yard first, but a scorer's testimony decided he had breached the rules and a further one-shot penalty was applied.

Chief rules official Dennis Bruyns explained the mix-up afterwards, pointing to a scorer who had seen the ball move as Montgomerie was about to play his second shot on the first hole.

"The ball had landed under a bush from his tee shot, which sliced badly to the right, bounced over the service road and landed under a bush," said Bruyns.

"The ball was almost unplayable. In fact, he Montgomerie even considered declaring it as such.

"The ball was resting against a leaf or a twig.

"He was unsighted once he addressed the ball. He didn't see the ball in the bush and he took his backswing and hit and made some sort of contract with the ball.

"Then we were asked how many shots he had hit. I was standing there and confirmed that he had hit seven times."

Bruyns went on to explain how the scorer, who was following Montgomerie, highlighted the move-ment of the ball when the Scot came to sign his scorecard.

"The scorer who was accompanying the group reported to us that, as Colin took his shot, the ball moved and Colin continued with the shot and hit the ball," said Bruyns.

"Rule 18 states that if you have begun your swing, if the ball moves and you continue to hit the ball you do not get penalised for hitting a moving ball unless you have done something to cause the ball to move.

"We believe that he did cause the ball to move because it was suggested that the movement of his backswing, through the leaves and the bush it caused the ball to move.

"When we went through all the facts in the scorers caravan, we advised him of the incident and he said he was unsighted."

Montgomerie rallied with birdies at the 16th and 18th to finish on two-over-par 74 but he had no time for waiting reporters.

Ernie Els predicted the Sun City lay-out will get tougher after shooting a two-under par 70.

Els, denied a hat-trick of victories last year by Sergio Garciain a play-off, finished the day two shots behind countryman Retief Goosen, the European Order of Merit winner, and American Chris DiMarco.


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