Twenty year old Alexander Bjork fired a nine under par 62 to take a three shot lead at the halfway stage of The Princess - his maiden Challenge Tour event – on a day of stunning scoring in Sweden.
Nicolas Meitinger set the course alight in the morning, carding a staggering 11 under par 60, but the day belonged to Bjork, who could become the first Swede to win a Challenge Tour event on home soil since Henrik Stenson in 2000. Ironically, The Princess is Stenson’s own event, in its second year and named after his daughter, Lisa.
“It feels really good,” said Bjork, who is 13 under overall. “I didn’t expect to do this well. This morning I was just focusing on making the cut. But then the birdies just carried on coming and I was very relaxed today.
“My long game felt very good yesterday but I didn’t make many putts. Today everything came together. I didn’t have a chance to play the course before the first round yesterday so it has gone very well.”
Earlier, Germany’s Meitinger blitzed round Båstad Golf Club with two eagles and eight birdies, but a bogey at the par five eighth – his 17th – denied him a historic 59. His first nine – eight under par 27 – was the lowest nine-hole score on the Challenge Tour this season and equalled the record for the lowest in Challenge Tour history. Only Matthew King in the 2004 Attijari Wafa – Tilkida Beach Morccan Classic and Toni Karjalainen in the 2008 MAN NO Open have recorded a score so low.
That score lifted Meitinger up to third place, one shot behind Oscar Floren, whose 67 took him to ten under for the tournament. Swedish duo Klas Eriksson (65) and Peter Gustaffson (67) are another shot back at eight under.
“I’ve been playing well the last couple of weeks but putting badly,” said Meitinger, who broke the course record of 62 set 12 months ago by tournament winner Andrew Butterfield. “Even last week at the BMW International Open I played really well but struggled on the greens. Today it felt like it was going in from everywhere. I was still playing well but putting is always the key to a low round.
“I was hitting it pretty close but then holing everything from five or six metres. But it’s pretty disappointing not to be sitting here with a 59 on my card.
“I missed the cut by one in Germany last week and I was a bit unlucky, but after weeks like that you always have to keep it up. It was not too difficult because I played well here last year and I was glad to come back. Yesterday I played well but didn’t hole the putts, but today the putts went in.”
Floren said: “It didn’t feel as good as yesterday but I took advantage of the par. I got off to a good start and made a few birdies. I had a couple of three putts but that’s life.”
Of Meitinger’s score, he added: “That’s obviously a great number, a fantastic score. I think he was eight under through nine and he must have been thinking of a 59. You have to tip your hat to him. A 60 on any course is a great score.”
Eriksson said: “I just enjoyed it and there were no problems. It feels great with the family here. I didn’t even go out on the golf course for a practice round, just showed up and played. It’s nice. I always really like to play in Sweden.
“It makes a difference not having to travel very far, having the family here...It would be great to win here in Sweden and I’m really looking forward to the next couple of days.”
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