BMW International Open
BMW International Open
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Ryder Cup hopefuls shine on first day

Ryder Cup wild card favourites Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald inspired each other to challenge strongly in the first round of the BMW International Open on Thursday.

Playing together, Montgomerie produced a blemish-free five-under-par 67 in the final event to count before European captain Bernhard Langer announces his selections, only a stroke off Retief Goosen's early lead.

Donald, hoping to make his Cup debut, carded a 68.

The two Britons did not have it all their own way though, with Germany's Alex Cejka shooting a 68 as another timely reminder to Langer.

Neither Montgomerie Donald, nor Cejka can qualify by right but all are determined to catch the eye of Langer, who is due to arrive at the tournament on Saturday.

Montgomerie put his good form down to two things.

"I've changed my putting grip to a lighter one but the main reason for my confident start is my caddie," the 41-year-old Scot told reporters.

Montgomerie has re-employed Alastair McLean, the bagman who helped him to all seven European order of merit wins and four Ryder Cup appearances before they split just over two years ago.

"It was right to part when we did because we'd got a bit stale, but now I'm confident with club selection, course management, my all-round game," Montgomerie said.

Montgomerie praised his 26-year-old playing partner.

"He's under a lot more pressure than me for the wild card because he's a rookie and has to prove himself," Montgomerie said.

"Bernhard knows what I can do. His score was better than mine in a way."

Donald was happy that he and Montgomerie had played well.

"I think it's good for European golf and good for the Ryder Cup team if people on the edge of being selected for wild cards are playing well," he said.

Cejka said that being the first German to win the Munich event was "almost more important than making the team", but acknowledged he had been motivated by Montgomerie and Donald's scores .

"The first thing I saw was Monty and Luke on the leaderboard and I went out there and tried my best," Cejka said.

"But there are a lot of guys on the fringe, on the bubble (for a wild-card) and it's going to be a tough test."

Ireland's Paul McGinley, lying in the 10th and last qualifying place in the Ryder Cup table, kept his rivals at bay with a steady 70.

Jean-Francois Remesy, one spot off automatic qualification, marred his chances with a 74, but Swede Joakim Haeggman, in 12th, kept up the pressure with a 69.

Of the players trying to stay in Ryder Cup qualifying positions, seventh-placed Paul Casey shot a 69 but David Howell and Ian Poulter, in eighth and ninth respectively, both carded 73.

Goosen, also a stroke better than Australian Peter O'Malley, American John Daly and David Lynn of Britain, produced an eight-birdie 66 to continue his bid for a third European money-list success.

The South African, playing his first tournament for five weeks after suffering a pelvis injury, lies second behind compatriot Ernie Els.

"It's an exciting week," Goosen said. "Hopefully, I can win the event and I'm lucky that the Ryder Cup doesn't have anything to do with me."

 

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