Karlsson claims share of Portugal lead
Former European No. 1 Robert Karlsson made a strong start to his
bid for his second title this year as he claimed a share of the
lead following the first round of the Portugal
Masters on Thursday.
The Swedish golfer, whose only success this season came in Qatar
in January, shot an eight-under-par 64 at the Oceanico Victoria
Golf Course on the Algarve to be level with compatriot Johan Edfors
and Dutchman Maarten Lafeber.
Alexander Noren, another Swede, was tied for fourth with
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen on 65 in a field missing injured defending
champion Lee Westwood, who has a calf problem.
But his European Ryder Cup teammates Ross Fisher and Edoardo
Molinari both shot 68, while Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez
carded 70 and another Celtic Manor hero Francesco Molinari made a
Starting on the back nine, Karlsson began with a birdie and
fired three more before the turn, then three in succession before
another at the sixth in a flawless round.
“I think with this kind of setup, with not so much rough, that’s
very often what we play in Sweden,” world No. 39 Karlsson, who
topped the money list two years ago, told the European Tour
“It’s a bit similar to Swedish golf, and the speed of the greens
as well are not super fast. I think we are very used to playing
this type of golf on our home courses where we grew up.”
Edfors, ranked 119th in the world, also fired three birdies in a
row — from nine to 11 — in a similarly flawless round as he seeks
his first title of 2010 and fourth on the European Tour.
“If the wind stays down, this is one of the courses you can
shoot, especially now when the rough is down as well. So without
wind, the 59 is possible,” he said, referring to golf’s benchmark
low score, which has never been carded on the European Tour.
Lafeber, whose only win on the circuit came on home soil in
2003, shot 11 birdies after starting on the back nine — but a
double-bogey six at 18 after another dropped shot at 13 stopped him
taking the outright lead.
Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion who has slumped to
1,329 in the world rankings, posted an encouraging 67 to be in a
big group tied for eighth.
The New Zealander has had a miserable season, but managed a
bogey-free round to boost his hopes of making a halfway cut for the
first time in 18 starts this year.