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Thursday, 01 July 2004
Sweden’s Johan Axgren has a two stroke clubhouse lead at the Volvo Finnish Open, after round one was left incomplete after a four hour delay due to torrential rainstorms.

The rains surrounding the Espoon Golfseura, Helsinki, were relentless on Wednesday afternoon, evening and night, leaving European Challenge Tour Officials no choice but to allow the golf course to recover before commencing the first round on Thursday morning.

That meant the considerable delay, but by the time Axgren was teeing of at 4:40 on Thursday afternoon, conditions were “almost perfect”.

The 29 year old from Gothenburg took full advantage of the now calm weather to start his round with a run of four consecutive birdies from the second to the sixth, and then picked up another three shots before his solitary dropped shot – at the 15th – left him with an opening round of five under par 65 over the 6773 yard, par 71 Espoon Golfsuera.

“I played well today,” said Axgren, “but by the time we went out – at 4:40 in the afternoon – it was perfect. We one of the last groups to finish before play was stopped for the day and it is always nice when you don’t have to finish one round and then play another on the same day.”

Axgren leads Australian Andrew Buckle and Norway’s Jan-Are Larsen in the clubhouse by two shots, with the Finnish Amateur Roope Kakko alongside Axgren on six under par but still with six holes of his first round to complete.

Larsen was among the first groups scheduled to start at 8:00am on Thursday morning, and as news of the four hour delay filtered through to the players who had been awake since six o’clock that morning, they turned the locker room into a dormitory!

The extra sleep certainly gave Larsen an edge as he returned a 67 during the most testing of the first days conditions.

“A lot of the guys who were in the first matches had obviously gone to the course early, about 6:30 in the morning, but we were told it would be at least two hours before play could start,” said Larsen.

“That soon became a four hour delay, and at that point a lot of the guys went into the locker room to catch up on their sleep. It was quite a funny sight actually, walking into the mens locker room and finding 15 professional golfers sleeping!

“It was the right thing to do though. I couldn’t practice or anything, so I found myself a corner, got some towels and grabbed few hours sleep. You do what you have to do in order to get the best out of yourself, and it certainly helped me.

“When I got onto the course I felt fresh and ready, which was just as well because it was really a question of holding your patience and trying not to make many mistakes, which I did throughout most of my round.

“I’m happy with my start given the circumstances of the delay and everything else. I feel that I am beginning to put scores on the board that reflect how well I am playing, whereas earlier in the season I wasn’t scoring well.”

England’s Phillip Archer is alongside Buckle and Larsen on four under, but with four holes of his first round remaining – with five players safe in the clubhouse on three under, and a further six on two under.

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