Thursday, 16 August 2012
Klas Erikkson (pic by ECCO Tour) ()
Klas Erikkson (pic by ECCO Tour) ()

An astonishing round of 62 – the lowest of his 21-year professional career – shot Klas Eriksson to the top of the leaderboard on the second day of the ECCO Tour Championship hosted by Thomas Björn & Mercedes-Benz.

Despite a stiff breeze and chilly morning temperatures in Horsens, Denmark, the Swede reeled off ten birdies in a flawless display of golf which smashed the course record at Stensballegaard Golf and moved him to 12 under par for the €160,000 event.

Watched by his wife, Marina, and their two children, Lukas and Emma, Eriksson hit every green in regulation, single-putting ten times – including from 40 feet on the 12th, 13th and 16th holes.

Incredibly, Eriksson’s score could quite easily have been lower as he three-putted the par five 15th hole and also lipped out for birdie on the last.

The 62 bettered by one his previous best rounds, recorded at the Rolex Trophy, the DHL Wroclaw Open and the MAN NÖ Open in 2008.

Eriksson finished 11th in the Challenge Tour Rankings that season and will need to maintain his scintillating form if he is to climb into the all-important top 20 from his current position of 109th, but the 41 year old was merely happy to have arrested a slump which has resulted in five missed cuts from 12 tournaments this term.     

He said: “If you’re going to shoot a really low one you have to putt well, and it goes without saying that I had a very good day on the greens. But you also have to give yourself the chances, and I played so solid all day. I actually played pretty well yesterday, but just made some stupid mistakes. Today I cut them out, and also holed a lot of putts.

“If I’m being honest, coming into the week I didn’t think I had a low round like that in me. My form has been pretty average, and my putting all year has been really poor. It’s hard to build up any momentum if you’re not holing putts, which knocks your confidence and also affects other parts of your game. But I’ve tried to stay positive and keep smiling, because in the past I’ve got frustrated and that doesn’t do you any good. So I’ve refused to hit the panic button, and now I’m starting to get my rewards.

“Traditionally I’ve started the season well and then my form has dipped a little, so I’m hoping that the opposite is true this time. I got off to a really slow start this year, but a round like this should get my season going. We’ve got some really important tournaments coming up now, so it would be a great time to peak.”

Whilst Eriksson is perhaps used to cooler conditions Jordi Garcia Pinto is an avowed sun seeker, but the Spaniard generated his own heat with a round of 65.

Garcia is currently studying for a law degree, but proved his studies were no hindrance to success on the golf course as he notched five birdies and an eagle three on the 15th hole to eight under par.

He said: “I holed a long putt from the edge of the green on the 17th, but most of my other putts were from fairly close range. Even though the conditions were tough it felt quite easy out there today, which is nice because golf is never normally easy! I’ve been playing quite well this season, making lots of cuts but not really finishing high enough. So hopefully that can change this week, because I need to start climbing the Rankings.

“I’m feeling good and the course is great – I much prefer tougher courses to ones where the scoring is really low. It’s better to play courses where you have to work really hard to make birdies, because you feel like you deserve them more. So I definitely deserved to shoot seven under today, because I played well.”

The afternoon starters were forced to contend with heavy downpours, but England’s Graeme A Clark battled gamely against the elements to sign for a round of 66.

Clark opened with a 25 foot birdie putt on the tenth hole, then promptly followed up with an eagle two after holing out with a nine iron on the 11th.

That moved the Yorkshireman to four under par, and he added further birdies at the 13th, 15th and sixth holes to finish the day on seven under.

Clark said: “I got off to a really quick start, and managed to keep it going for the rest of the round. I was five under through six, which was good going because it was pretty grim at times in the rain. For the back nine the rain stopped, but it hadn’t really softened up the greens so you couldn’t afford to attack the pins – you still had to be careful because if you get out of position on the greens here you can find yourself in all kinds of trouble. I played quite well last week, so a round like this has been coming. Hopefully I can just keep it going for the next two days now.”   

Germany’s Nicolas Meitinger, who won the Challenge de France last year, signed for his second successive round of 69 to move to fourth place on six under par.

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