Colin Montgomerie walked off the 18th green in a tie for the lead with Tiger Woods at the Target World Challenge, and someone told him the tournament was in his hands. Montgomerie, of all people...

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Colin Montgomerie walked off the 18th green in a tie for the lead with Tiger Woods at the Target World Challenge, and someone told him the tournament was in his hands.


Montgomerie, of all people, knows better.


“It’s in Tiger’s hands,” he said with a smile.


Seven years after they were first paired together in the final group going into the weekend, tournament host Woods and Montgomerie established themselves as the front-runners yesterday with stretches of great play and minimal mistakes to each shoot 5-under-par 66 at Sherwood Country Club.


Montgomerie birdied five of his first seven holes. Woods made five birdies in a six-hole stretch in the middle of his round. They were at 9-under 133 and were two shots clear of Jim Furyk (68) and Jay Haas (66).


Woods, Montgomerie and Furyk tied for the first-round lead.


Seattle native Fred Couples, one stroke behind after the first round, shot a 70 and was at 138.


Woods and Montgomerie first played together in the third round of the 1997 Masters, Woods’ professional debut in a major tournament. Woods had a three-shot lead going into the weekend.


It was such a blowout — Woods shot a 65, Montgomerie a 74 — that the Scot came into the media center at Augusta National without invitation to give his take on Woods.


“There is no chance — we’re all human beings here — no chance humanly possible that Tiger Woods is going to lose this tournament,” Monty said.


Woods went on to win by a tournament-record 12 shots.


Woods thinks so highly of Montgomerie that he called him and invited him to his event, mainly out of respect to the Scot’s Ryder Cup success.


“He outplayed everybody on our team,” Woods said. “What he has done is impressive. Plus, don’t forget his resume, with seven Order of Merits. No one has ever come close to that.”


Of being paired with Woods, Montgomerie said, “He’s still intimidating, and that’s not criticism; that’s a compliment. It is different to play with Tiger. I’ve just got to concentrate on my own game. I’m not going to beat Tiger. I’m not going to outdrive him, I’m not going to hit better iron shots, and I’m not going to putt better. The only way I’m going to beat Tiger is by scoring well.”




Notes


• Sweden’s Peter Gustafsson took a four-stroke lead after two rounds of the Dunhill Championship, shooting a 4-under 68 in Malelane, South Africa. Gustafson was at 7-under 135 for 36 holes.


Des Terblanche, Warren Abery, Nick Cheetham and Oliver Whitely were tied for second at 139.


Seve Ballesteros escaped punishment from the European Tour after he was accused of assaulting tournament director Jose Maria Zamora during an amateur event three months ago at Ballesteros’ home club in northern Spain. Ballesteros was a spectator.