Finland’s Toni Karjalainen extended his lead to three shots at the Thomas Björn Open presented by Multidata after a second round of two over par 73 amid some ferocious weather conditions at the Esbjerg Golfklub in Denmark, conditions that ensured not a single player out of the 156 in the field went under par during round two.
Karjalainen is the only player with an aggregate under par score, the 25 year old moving back to three under to lead Argentina’s Ariel Canete by three strokes, as gusting, swirling winds of up to 30 miles per hour turned the already formidable 6955 yard par 71 Esbjerg Golfklub into a seriously intimidating proposition.
Having started his second round with a bogey on the tenth hole, it looked as though overnight leader Karjalainen was in for a long day on the west coast of Denmark but he quickly steadied the ship with some outstanding chipping and putting to reel off nine consecutive pars before dropping another stroke on the second.
Five further pars soon followed before Karjalainen picked up a birdie two on the eighth, which he immediately surrendered with a bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day, to post a second round 73 which delighted the Finn given the conditions he was playing in.
“Oh my God!” he exclaimed. “I said yesterday that if the conditions got any worse then I would have to give up but I never thought we could play in conditions like we had today. I have played in some extreme conditions before, conditions that you shouldn’t really be playing golf in, but apart from those occasions, today was as tough as I have played in.
“Obviously I am delighted at the way I played today. To shoot just two over feels like a victory in so many ways because that wind was really blowing out there. I am looking forward to the weekend now. I have never won a four round event as a professional but it doesn’t bother me that I have not been in this position before. I look at it as if it has to happen for me some day, so hopefully that day will be Sunday.”
Canete is also hoping that his day will come on Sunday. Like Karjalianen, the Argentine played some fantastic escape shots during the second round to save pars all over the course. Indeed, the 30 year old dropped his first shot at of the tournament at the 16th hole of his second round (the par four seventh), before giving another one back on the eight to cancel out the birdie he had managed to muster on the par five fourth.
Canete’s 72 was the best round of the day (shared with Didier de Vooght of Belgium and England’s Lewis Atkinson) and he was more than happy to escape the torturous conditions at one over par for the day.
“I suppose I had to drop some shots somewhere with the conditions as they were today,” he said. “I made some great up and downs to save par today and that was the key to the round to be honest – I just hope that I can keep this kind of form going over the weekend.”
Canete is one stroke ahead of his fellow countryman Daniel Vancsik, who shares third place with Englishman Matthew Morris – who won the Nykredit Danish Open here last season – and Carl Suneson of Spain.
Sixty-five players made the halfway cut of nine over par 151 and will do battle for the €18,400 first prize.