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Poor play has Montgomerie, Els fear for next week
by Brian Creighton

Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie struggled at the Scottish Open on Friday and will have lots of work to do if they want to be contenders at next week's British Open.

Els slipped to a 3-over-par 74, while Montgomerie made a 12-foot (3.6 m) birdie putt at the final hole for a 71 that should just be good enough to make the cut.

The leader in the clubhouse was Carl Pettersson of Sweden, a resident of Raleigh, North Carolina. He shot a 5-under 66 for a 6-under halfway total of 136.

Midway through his second round, Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden was 10-under.

Els, who shot 68 in Thursday's opening round and was at even-par 142 after two rounds, was dismayed by his iron play Friday.

"I really hit my irons very poorly," he said. "I have to find something. I'm hitting almost every fairway then pulling my irons. If I hit it like that at Muirfield next week, I'll have no chance."

Els, winner of the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997, drove into the fairway at the first hole, then pulled a 9-iron into a bunker and made bogey.

An 8-iron from the second fairway also found sand, though he saved par. Then after two birdies, he bunkered his 7-iron at the short fifth and took bogey. At the 625-yard (571 m) sixth hole, his third shot spun back off the green.

"I chipped 10 feet past the hole and then I got a little angry with myself and three-putted," he said of his double-bogey seven.

Another double bogey at the 10th was followed by seven pars before a birdie at the last.

"It was a perfect day to shoot a low score, but I played poorly," the South African said. "I felt uncomfortable. But I'm not out of it yet and I have the weekend to sort it out."

Montgomerie, who was at two-over 143 at the midway point, bogeyed the first two holes of his opening round of 72 and bogeyed the first hole again Friday. He hooked a drive that went just 190 yards (173 m) into rough and was unable to reach the green with a wood on the 425-yard (388 m) hole.

He had an up-and-down round after that, but a 12-foot (3.6 m) putt for birdie at the last ensured that he will probably just make the cut when the second round is completed.

"I didn't play well at all," he said. "I'm not hitting the greens in regulation like I used to. It's been a problem for months.

"I'm not playing the golf I want to play. I've got to get back to that. I don't know what it is. I shall use the next two rounds to practice for the Open."

Pettersson, winner of the Algarve Portugal Open in April in his second pro season, eagled the third hole and had three bogeys without dropping a shot. His eagle three at the 518-yard (473 m) third came on a drive and a 3-iron to 15 feet (1.5 m).

Pettersson, 24, has frequently been in contention in recent weeks.

"Winning was a big boost to my confidence and I'm comfortable playing with anybody in any event," he said.

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