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Monty warming to the bleak midwinter

There are worse ways to spend a few December days than playing golf on an idyllic Indian Ocean island.

Colin Montgomerie is revelling in the relaxed atmosphere of his rookie senior campaign
Colin Montgomerie is revelling in the relaxed atmosphere of his rookie senior campaign

In the pleasant climes of Mauritius, Colin Montgomerie has been left pleasantly surprised by his first year of senior service. "I've enjoyed this season a lot more than I thought I would," admitted the 50-year-old ahead of the European Senior circuit's MCB Tour Championship. "I thought I'd be walking the dogs by now, but I've found that, at 50, I might as well do something, and all I can do is play golf."

Having juggled competition on both sides of the Atlantic, the former Ryder Cup talisman has illuminated his rookie campaign with a victory in the Travis Perkins Senior Masters at Woburn and a trio of top-10s on the Champions Tour in the US.

For a man who once said he'd never play seniors golf, Montgomerie has relished going toe-to-toe with the golden oldies. "The one thing I have underestimated since turning 50 is the standard of competition," he added. "It is only just behind the European Tour. It's extremely high. It's more relaxed away from the course, but once the gun goes it is exactly the same on it."

With 31 wins on the main tour, eight order of merit crowns, multiple Ryder Cup wins as a player and one as captain, the advancing years have not diminished Montgomerie's competitive instincts. Missing a tiddler on the 18th green will still produce a trademark glower that would make the Medusa shy away but Monty insists he has never been more at ease on the golf course. "We've all been successful and have nothing to prove, so we relax and enjoy it," he said. "And you tend to do something better if you enjoy it."

The weather in Mauritius has been better than in South Africa where heavy rain brought more disruption to the European Tour's Nelson Mandela Championship.

Following Wednesday's seven-hour delay, further downpours in Durban meant only four-and-a-half hours of play were possible over a saturated Mount Edgecombe course yesterday. Scott Jamieson, the defending champion, was two-over through 13 holes of his first round when play was halted for the day.

In the Far East, Alex Cejka upstaged a host of big names as he seized the lead on day one of the Thailand Golf Championship. The German blasted an eight-under 64 at the Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok to finish a stroke clear of the US Open champion, Justin Rose. Charl Schwartzel, the defending champion, opened with a 68 to share fifth alongside Sergio Garcia with Henrik Stenson, the European No.1 and world No.3, two strokes further back on 70.

On the Algarve, Scotland's Tartan Tour professionals are still in the hunt to retain their PGA of Europe Team Championship title as they sit second with a round to play. Driven along by Graham Fox's five-under 67, the Scots, also represented by David Orr and Greg McBain, posted a six-under team score of 138 for a six-over total of 438 to finish two shots behind the Netherlands.

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