Calm Karlsson closes in on prize

Robert Karlsson is on the verge of becoming the first Swedish player to win the Order of Merit, thanks to transforming himself from Mr Angry to Mr Consistency.

Despite Padraig Harrington claiming back-to-back major titles at the Open and USPGA Championship this year, Karlsson leads his Ryder Cup partner by £230,312 at the top of the money list.

The 39-year-old has accumulated 12 top-10 finishes and also claimed back-to-back victories in the Mercedes-Benz Championship and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship either side of his second cup appearance at Valhalla.

His performances in the major championships were also second only to Harrington, with eighth in the Masters, fourth in the US Open, seventh in the Open and 20th in the USPGA Championship helping him amass more than £2million in prize money.

Second place at this week’s season-ending Volvo Masters would secure the Order of Merit title, even if Harrington were to win, and Karlsson puts his amazing consistency down to learning to control a volcanic temper.

“I worked on my attitude on and off the golf course,” admitted Karlsson. “I’m not wasting a lot of energy on bad shots and bad rounds.

“My toughest situation this year was obviously that 74 in the final round of the BMW Championship (when he blew a four-shot lead), and I came back the week after and finished second in Wales.

“That was such big proof for me that I can handle pretty much any situation now, and that is the week that I am most proud of in my career actually, to play as well as I did the week after I’ve had a really bad last round and made a mess of it.”

Asked to expand on the “wasted energy” after bad rounds, the 6ft 5in Swede added: “I would have been hacked off, I would have wasted two days of being really, really angry.

“I would not have been able to leave that week behind, and now it’s like, ’Okay, it’s a new week now, what happened, what happened, I’m going to learn from this.’

“I had that focus the whole year and no matter what happens I have to become a stronger person and a stronger player. Then I can never lose.

“When I was very, very inconsistent it was because when I had a good day, I was really, really upbeat, and when I had a bad day, I beat myself up pretty badly.

“It’s tough to play well when there’s so many ups and downs. Before, I would have reacted immediately and slapped the club in the bag or shown that I was disappointed with the shot.

“Now I try to find that little space of time when the ball lands in the water until I slam the club, and if you can stop yourself right there you can get better and better at it and all of a sudden it’s no big thing.”

In total four members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team can still win the Order of Merit at Valderrama, with Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez also in the frame.

Westwood trails Karlsson by £361,318 and even claiming the second prize of £374,990 would need Karlsson to almost finish last.

Jimenez is £523,968 behind Karlsson and has to win the £562,485 first prize and also hope Karlsson finishes outside the top 20.

“I’m trying to make this as much as possible a separate week,” Karlsson added. “It’s a big event so my focus is going to be to do my best this week and see on Sunday if it’s going to be enough.

“If I start playing matchplay against Padraig and Westwood, I think we are going to put ourselves in a lot of trouble.

“The Order of Merit is a bit funny because it depends so much on how many tournaments you’re playing. Padraig has played maybe 12 but I’ve played 23 or something like that, so it’s a bit unfair.

“It’s like Manchester United against Arsenal and one has to play 12 matches and the other 22, it’s not really a fair judgment of the season I think. But if I win it, I’m not going to complain, put it that way.”

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