Colin Montgomerie passed a big test yesterday, overcoming a few obnoxious fans and a pairing with Tiger Woods to post a 4-under-par 67 and take a two-shot lead in the Target World...

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Colin Montgomerie passed a big test yesterday, overcoming a few obnoxious fans and a pairing with Tiger Woods to post a 4-under-par 67 and take a two-shot lead in the Target World Challenge.

Montgomerie was hardly intimidated playing with the tournament host, needing only four holes to put four shots between them on the leader board.

And when Jay Haas made a charge into the lead, the 41-year-old Scot responded with a 4-iron into 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 16th and a 9-iron into 8 feet for another birdie on the 17th to finish at 13-under 200.

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“There’s no satisfaction beating any player,” Montgomerie said. “The satisfaction comes from seeing your name on the top of the leader board.”

Sweeter yet would be seeing it there today, having Woods hand him the trophy and cashing the $1.25 million check, the fourth-largest payout.

Woods recovered from a terrible start — 3 over after four holes — with a birdie-par-birdie finish for a 69 that left him two shots behind along with Haas (67) and Jim Furyk, who birdied five of his last six holes for a 67.

Miguel Angel Jimenez had the low round of the day at 66 and was another shot behind.

Seattle native Fred Couples shot a 71 and is nine shots behind Montgomerie.

Montgomerie enjoyed the warmth of Southern California and the reception from the fans, but not all of them. One man cheered loudly when he missed a birdie at the 12th, and the Scot glared.

“That was uncalled for,” Woods said, who had security talk to the fan.

Asked about it later, Monty brushed it off. He was more excited about his play.

Montgomerie is in good position to win his first stroke-play title in the United States. He won the Match Play Championship in 1998 — the year before it became an official event — and the Skins Game in 2000.

The Target World Challenge doesn’t count in the record books, though Montgomerie surely would take satisfaction out of beating Woods, Vijay Singh and the rest of the elite, 16-man field at Sherwood.

“It’s obviously a big mistake he invited me in the first place,” Montgomerie said with a laugh.

And given his history being paired with Woods in stroke play — a drubbing at the ’97 Masters, a three-hole playoff loss in Germany two years ago — Monty showed he was headed in the right direction.

“If you had said I would shoot 67, I would have walked home — well, not home, but to the hotel,” he said. “If you would tell me I’ll shoot 67 tomorrow, I’ll walk to the airport.”

Woods probably wanted to walk home to Florida after his start.

He three-putted for bogey on No. 1, missing from 2 feet for par. He left a shot in the bunker at No. 3 and took double bogey. He three-putted for bogey on No. 4, missing that par putt from 3 feet.

“There were a lot of holes left,” Woods said. “I had been playing well all week, and I figured I might as well do what I had been doing, and not play hockey on the greens.”


• England’s Nick Cheetham had the only bogey-free round, shooting a 3-under 69 that gave him a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Dunhill Championship in Malelane, South Africa. He was at 8-under 208 in the PGA European Tour event. South Africa’s David Frost (69) was at 209, with South Africa’s Charl Swartzel (70) at 210 and England’s Oliver Whitely (72) at 211.

• Australia’s David McKenzie shot an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead in the Australian Masters in Melbourne, while Peter Lonard was four shots behind in his bid to became the first player to complete the Australian Slam. McKenzie, who missed earning a PGA Tour card by a stroke last week, had a 17-under 199 total on the Huntingdale course.

• Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng shot a 5-under 67 to share the third-round lead with Taiwan’s Wang Ter-chang at the Asian Tour’s season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Wang’s 69 left him at 12-under 204.