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Friday, 12 May 2000
Johan Rystrom carded a course record 65 to lead the way as the Swedes took command at the halfway mark of the Costa Blanca Challenge at Bonalba. The 36-year-old, who lives in Marbella, ran in an eagle and six birdies for an aggregate of 11-under-par 133, two ahead of fellow Swede, Martin Erlandsson.

Rystrom, who carved one shot off the previous Bonalba best, laid the foundation for his record in his outward nine, the back nine of the course after starting at the 10th tee.

He birdied the 10th from 10 feet, the 12th from two feet and the 13th from four feet before holing what he described as 'a monster' at 18 to be out in 32. "It is always easy when you start well," he said. "Getting to four under after nine holes took the pressure off me."

He was equally effective coming home despite a three-putt bogey at the fourth. But he immediately countered with an eagle at the fifth, hitting his four-iron approach to four feet, then birdying the sixth and ninth, where he holed from off the green, for an inward 33.

"I hit some solid tee shots, and putted good," Rystrom added. "It was quite windy in the afternoon but I was straight when I had to be."

Erlandsson, joint leader overnight, carded a 69 for 135, while Australian Tony Carolan came in with the same score for 137 to lie third.

The other overnight leaders, Mark Pilkington of Wales and another Swede, Henrik Stenson, both fell back with 72s for 138, being joined by another Welshman, Garry Houston, who celebrated his 29th birthday with a 68, the best score after Rystrom's record.

"I'm pleased with that because I nearly pulled out on Thursday with flu," said Houston. "I've still got a cold but I feel better and that 68 in a tonic."

His red-letter day would have felt even better if he hadn't missed from 10 feet for par at the last. "That was a pity because I played well," he added.

The cut came at level-par 144 with 52 players surviving. Among those who didn't was Spain's Alvaro Salto, winner of the Credit Suisse Private Banking Open last week in Switzerland, who finished on 153, and another Welshman, Stephen Dodd, joint third in Switzerland, who missed by one after a 75.

Another early departure was suffered by ranking leader Trevor Immelman from South Africa, who missed by two.

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