Sport – Golf: Portugal Masters – Swedes lead the way in Portugal

Robert Karlsson and Johan Edfors led a strong Swedish challenge

on the opening day of the Portugal

Masters in Vilamoura.

Both men carded eight-under par rounds of 64 on the Oceanico

Victoria course to lead alongside Dutchman Maarten Lafeber.

Another Swede, Alexander Noren, was a shot further back, with

Finland’s Mikko Ilonen.

Paul McGinley was the best-placed Irishman on six-under (66),

one shot ahead of Damien McGrane, who in turn is one clear of Peter

Lawrie,Shane Lowry and Gareth Maybin.

Michael Hoey shot a two-under 70, while Darren Clarke suffered a

calamitous quadruple bogey late on in his round, and finished on

level par alongside Simon Thornton.

Karlsson and Edfors both covered the Oceanico Victoria course in

unblemished rounds including eight birdies.

Karlsson was a model of consistency after starting his round on

the 10th, picking up birdies on his first, the 12th, the 16th and

the 17th.

He was equally efficient coming back, picking up shots at two,

three, four and six, and found the conditions to his liking.

“I think with this kind of set-up with not so much rough, that’s

very often what we play in Sweden,” Karlsson told

europeantour.com.

“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.”

He added: “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 (record) 59 is possible.”

Edfors did much of his good work in his back nine with five

birdies to add to the three he produced on the way out.

Lafeber might have held the lead on his own but for a

double-bogey on the par-four 18th, which ruined an otherwise

impressive round that included 11 birdies.

After birdies on his opening three holes the Dutchman had

seemingly lost the momentum in his round when he shot a six at the

18th.

But the 35-year-old recovered impressively as he added a further

six birdies on his inward nine to take a share of the lead at a

course where 24 under par has been the average winning score.

Of Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes, England’s Ross Fisher and Edoardo

Molinari were best placed after shooting four-under par rounds of

68.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was two shots further back, while Francesco

Molinari looked set to miss the cut after carding a two-over-par

74.