Sjöland grabs the headlines in The Daily Telegraph Damovo British Masters
A flawless performance of his own, allied to a slice of misfortune for Eduardo Romero, helped Sweden’s Patrik Sjöland into the lead at the halfway stage of The Daily Telegraph Damovo British Masters at the Marriott Forest of Arden.
The Swede, who celebrates his 33rd birthday next week, gave himself the chance of an early present with a superb bogey-free 65 – maintaining his run of not having dropped a shot this week – for a ten under par total of 134 and a one shot lead over the Argentine, who carded 68 for 135, and England’s Brian Davis who carded 67 to reach the same nine under par mark.
Emerging from the recorders hut, Sjöland was surprised to hear he was in pole position, for coming to his final hole he believed he was a shot adrift of Romero who had finished minutes in front of him.
However, subsequently, Romero had been penalised two shots by European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor, one for grounding his club on the 14th green over a putt as the ball moved and the other for not replacing it in the original position, an indiscretion verified by subsequent viewing of television pictures by the official, the Argentine and his playing partners.
“I am very sad about what happened because I played really well today and actually shot 66 but rules are rules and they are the same for everybody. I made a mistake and it was my fault,” admitted a philosophical Romero.
The Argentine, aiming to overtake Des Smyth as the oldest winner in history on The European Tour was praised by Paramor for his reaction to the penalty which robbed him of the chance to lead at the halfway stage.
“There was no questioning of the decision at all and Eduardo said it was definitely a penalty,” said the Tour’s Chief Referee. “He took it as you would expect him to, he was a perfect gentleman and considering he was leading the tournament at the time, it was a fantastic reaction.”
All of which drama left Sjöland in the lead, the Swede beginning to reap the rewards of working with his new coach, Thorsten Hanson, the yield being a superb round of 65 which featured seven birdies and no dropped shots.
Shot of the day for the winner of the 1998 Italian Open and the 2000 Irish Open came at the 16th where a sublime seven iron approach shot saw his ball come to rest a mere couple of inches from an audacious eagle two.
“I started in August last year to work with a coach to try and help my focus on the golf and not on other things and I think I am more focused on the course now,” he said. “I think I have been hitting the ball pretty well this year and not making too many mistakes.”
Another man who produced a stunning shot to remember was Davis, who added a 67 to his opening 68, a score helped by a superb three wood second shot to ten feet at the par five seventh hole which set up an eagle three and immediately helped erase the memory of a double bogey six at the sixth where he found trouble in the penal rough.
To complete the recovery, the Englishman, who currently holds one of the automatic places in Europe’s team for September’s Ryder Cup contest against the United States, birdied his final hole, the demanding 476 yard ninth, to propel himself back into the frame for his second title of the 2004 season.
“I actually birdied the ninth yesterday as well so I have probably picked up about four shots on the field there,” said Davis. “But to finish like that was great. If I’d made double on the last or something and not eagled the seventh, I could have gone from the lead just to hanging on to make the cut, so it was important.”
Moving into fourth place was another Englishman, Lee Westwood, who delighted the large crowds and his International Sports Management company, the promoters of the event, with a 65, which equalled Sjöland’s effort as the best round of the second day, and moved Westwood to eight under par 136.
“Confidence breeds good play and good play breeds confidence,” said Westwood. “If you hit the shots you are trying to hit and achieve the goals you set out to do, when you stand behind the ball, it has to give you confidence.”
Sharing fifth place was Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and Australian left-hander Nick O’Hern, who carded matching rounds of 68 for a seven under par total of 137.
Courtesy of www.europeantour.com