Alexander Noren leads Welsh Open as Montgomerie leaves

Alexander Noren
Noren leads the Welsh Open on eight under par after the second round

Colin Montgomerie is out of the Wales Open after posting a second-round 79 to finish the day 15 over - 23 shots behind new leader Alexander Noren.

On the course where he captained Europe to 2010 Ryder Cup success, Montgomerie followed his opening round 78 with another forgettable effort.

Swede Noren took over from Keith Horne at the top of the leaderboard with a second successive 67.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland, is one behind.

Montgomerie's total was his worst 36-hole score on European soil for more than 20 years and the Scot blamed his age.

He said: "I'm not 25 any more," said the 47-year-old Scot.

"I think it does show sometimes. It's good being busy, but it takes its toll trying to compete against guys less than half my age only doing this.

"Playing well last week [his seventh place at Wentworth was his first top 10 for almost three years] I thought I could perform well again.

"But I just played awful. I'm very disappointed not to be playing at the weekend, never mind contending. I'm one of the last names on the board."

The last time Montgomerie had two higher opening scores in Europe was the 1991 International at St Mellion. He shot 80-81 there.

But that was such a tough week that his 161 aggregate was still good enough for 110th place out of 143 - and 12 strokes better than Swede Mikael Hogberg's 83-90.

Montgomerie failed to make it through a 36-hole US Open qualifying event on Monday and faces the same thing at Sunningdale on Monday, 6 June to secure a place in next month's Open.

"It's become very important. I've not had a year where I've not competed in a major before (not since 1989 at least) - I've played in The Open 21 years in a row and I want to keep that record going."

If he is not part of the Sandwich actionin July, the man with five runners-up finishes - three US Opens, one Open and one US PGA - may never play another major.

Hoever, Noren. 28, is looking forward to his US Open debut, his first major in America after making it through with a stroke to spare at Walton Heath.

Noren won the European Masters two years ago, but dropped from 25th to 85th on the money list last season and from a high of 50th in the world he now stands 127th.

"I've always dreamed of playing a US Open and I'm so happy - so happy," said Noren. "It's such an energy boost."

He birdied four of the last five holes to take over at the top from South African Keith Horne, who after starting with a 64 failed to conjure up a single birdie in his 73.

US Open title-holder McDowell also had four birdies in five holes, in his case from the eighth, and just as important was his recovery from under the lip of a bunker to two feet at the short 10th.

"One of the boys said Seve [Ballesteros] would have been proud of that one," he said. "I'm on a course I enjoy and in a position I enjoy.

"This is absolutely perfect for the US Open. I said I just wanted to get in the mix and get the juices flowing and it's kind of mission accomplished."

Wales' Jamie Donaldson is in joint third with France's Victor Dubuisson, but Phillip Price - another of the home contingent - had a real setback when he was going well.

On-course television commentator Howard Clark thought Price, one under at them time, had driven from in front of the tee at the 15th.

When it was checked on video a two-shot penalty was imposed and he had to go back to the tee to play it again. He birdied it second time.

"But it meant a bogey on the card and he finished level par.

In the same group Ryder Cupper Ross Fisher crashed to an outward 44 and with a 79 for seven over he is certain to stay outside the world's top 50 and seems destined to miss the US Open.

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