Dougherty maintains form

Ryder Cup hopeful Nick Dougherty produced a sparkling finish to regain a share of the lead at the SAS Masters in Stockholm on Friday.

Ryder Cup hopeful Nick Dougherty produced a sparkling finish to regain a share of the lead at the SAS Masters in Stockholm on Friday.

The 26-year-old from Liverpool birdied three of the last four holes for a second successive 66 at Arlandastad and goes into the weekend alongside Swede Peter Hanson on eight under par.

Dougherty, leader of the Ryder Cup points table last October, has fallen to 15th since the death of his mother after a heart attack in April.

He has been determined to play with a smile on his face once more this week, however, and so far it is working wonders.

"That's how I play and it's nice to be doing it again," he said. "The Ryder Cup would be lovely and I would be an idiot if I said it does not matter, but more important is enjoying my golf again.

"I've had my reasons to feel a bit down, but considering how I've played the last few months I've a lot to smile about this week."

There are two more counting tournaments to follow and Dougherty would be just outside an automatic top-10 spot if he were to triumph on Sunday.

His late run began in unlikely fashion on the 545-yard 15th when he missed the fairway by almost 50 yards, then went left before pitching to 15 feet and making the putt.

Dougherty then got up and down from sand at the 17th, another par five, and hit a glorious four-iron to 10 feet on the next.

Hanson also repeated his opening 66, grabbing birdies at three of the first six holes and adding another on the 15th.

They are two ahead of Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Swede Patrik Sjoland, with former Ryder Cup pair Paul Broadhurst and Peter Baker, Scot Gary Orr and another Swede, US Tour-based Daniel Chopra, one further back.

Bristol 20-year-old Chris Wood, making his professional debut four weeks after his stunning fifth place finish in The Open, is shining again, joint 12th on three under.

Wood, first man out in the second round, twice shared the lead early in his round, but a bogey at the 481-yard seventh, his 16th, meant he finished with a 67 and three-under total.

His performance at Royal Birkdale was the best by an amateur in a major since Justin Rose's fourth place on the same course 10 years ago.

Rose then missed his first 21 cuts as a pro, but Wood was never focusing on simply getting through the first two rounds.

"This is exactly what I had in mind - trying to challenge the lead," said the 6ft 5in former England international.

"I am as good if not better than a lot of them, I think.

"My coach and I have always known I have the ability to do it. I just needed the opportunity and I got it at The Open and took it.

"I just played my normal golf there and it gives me a huge amount of confidence."

American DJ Trahan, a contender for a wild card from American captain Paul Azinger, missed the cut on three over just like his compatriot Dudley Hart and will hope to be much more impressive when the FedEx Cup play-off series begins in New Jersey next week.

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