Per-Ulrik Johansson and David Gilford shared the lead in the first round of the BMW International Open at Golfclub Munchen Nord-Eichenried as an uncharacteristic mistake left defending champion Colin Montgomerie eight strokes off the pace on level par.
Swedish Ryder Cup player Johansson and Gilford, without a victory for six years now, finished the day tied at the top after eight under par 64s, one better than New Zealand’s Greg Turner and fellow Antipodean Wayne Riley.
However it was Montgomerie who created the biggest stir on a day of low scoring by effectively handicapping himself after turning up one minute late on the first tee. He was penalised two strokes and found himself trailing early leader Johansson by ten strokes before he had struck a blow in anger.
The Scot, who started and finished with a six, admitted later that he had mistaken his tee time as 1.30pm instead of the correct one of 1.20pm. His arrival on the tee at 1.21pm resulted in European Tour Referee Neal Briggs imposing the penalty.
Had Montgomerie been a full five minutes late, the penalty would have been disqualification. However he completed the remaining 17 holes in two under par to give himself a fighting chance of beating the cut.
Montgomerie insisted he was only 20 seconds late and said: “I thought I was off at 1.30 and I arrived nine minutes and 40 early for my tee time. In fact I was 20 seconds late. Simple as that. A rule’s a rule and you’ve got to abide by it. It’s the first time in my career it’s happened and it obviously won’t happen again.”
By the time Montgomerie eventually did tee off, Johansson had established a strong position with his 64 which incorporated six birdies and an eagle at the sixth. The Swede has been third and second in recent months and confessed he wants to get back in the winner’s circle.
“That would be nice but you can only play as well as you can. I’ve come close a couple of times this year and that’s what I’m playing for – to try to win a tournament and get into the American Express event at the end of the season.”
Gilford, 35, had his weakest finish in the Volvo Order of Merit in a decade by finishing 90th last season, and he confessed: “I haven’t played very well the last three or four years and haven’t won for six. I have been working on changes with David Whelan for the last eight or nine months and my swing looks better now.”
Turner has also been working on swing changes with his coach, Denis Pugh, and is beginning to see the benefit while Riley’s inward 31 helped him match the Kiwi’s 65.
Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, bogeyed his first hole but soon got to grips with the course and went on to post a five under par 67. He said: “I’m extremely happy. I haven’t had any problems with my hip since the surgery in June. I’ve played a lot of golf in the last three weeks and right now it doesn’t bother me at all.”Day 1 Video Highlights