KOREAN KJ Choi will try to bridge a seven-year gap in Stockholm this weekend – and with it stop Open champion Louis Oosthuizen from making a piece of European Tour history.
No winner of the Claret Jug has ever gone on to lift another trophy on the circuit a week later, but Oosthuizen still has that chance after adding a two-under-par 70 to his opening 67 at the Nordea Scandinavian Masters.
However Choi, whose only previous victory in Europe was the 2003 German Masters, is two ahead of the South African at halfway, with Swede Richard Johnson sandwiched between them.
Late in the day Oosthuizen was joined in third place by Argentina’s Rafa Echenique.
Best of the Irish are Simon Thornton and Michael Hoey, both on 150. Thornton shot a 67 yesterday to ad to his 73 while Hoey shot second 70.
In what looked like desperation two weeks ago Choi switched to a bizarre-looking side-saddle putting method once used by the great Sam Snead.
But, after missed cuts at the John Deere Classic and then in The Open at St Andrews, the 40-year-old has gone back to a conventional style.
“I need more practice at it. These greens are very slopey,” said Choi, who despite scoring 67 missed a succession of makeable putts over the closing stretch. Earlier, though, he had eagled the 15th – his sixth hole of the day – and birdied three of the next four to open a five-stroke lead.
Oosthuizen had his misses on the greens too, but has no plans for any drastic changes. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but I think I’ll stick to my routine,” said the 27-year-old.
Like Choi, Johnson is based in America and his only European Tour success was eight years ago – in Australia. The 33-year-old’s bogey-free 66 was the low round of the day.
Johnson’s compatriot and playing partner Jesper Parnevik, out of golf since February after the discovery of a career-threatening fractured vertebrae, quit after 11 holes of his second round.
That was longer than he feared he might last and Parnevik, five over at the time, will now continue the rehab which he hopes can make him a Tour regular.
Former US Open champion Michael Campbell had more shoulder trouble, meanwhile, and called it a day at 15 over with nine to play. The New Zealander has made only one cut in 19 events since last October.
Italian Edoardo Molinari, who with a second place finish could knock Luke Donald out of the top nine on the Ryder Cup table, is still well in touch at five under.
American Cup hopeful Dustin Johnson is only one further back after a 73 containing five birdies, six bogeys and seven pars.
But fellow countryman Rickie Fowler, who could yet force himself into Corey Pavin’s side in this his rookie season, crashed out on five over after hitting two balls in the lake on the 13th and running up a triple bogey eight.
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