Saturday, 21 September 2013
Johan Carlsson (Phil Inglis) ()
Johan Carlsson (Phil Inglis) ()
Johan Carlsson took inspiration from his compatriot and one of the European Challenge Tour’s most famous graduates, Henrik Stenson, as the Swede marched into a two shot lead heading into the final day of the lucrative Kazakhstan Open.

The 27 year old signed for a five under par 67 over the challenging Nurtau Golf Club lay-out in Almaty to move to the top on 13 under par and into contention for a maiden Challenge Tour title in his rookie season.

The San Diego State graduate started poorly with a bogey at the opening hole but he followed that immediately with a birdie before two more birdies, and a bogey at the ninth, took him to the turn in one under par. His round caught fire on the back nine, however, as he picked up a shot at the par five tenth before back to back birdies at the 12th and 13th.

Another gained shot at the 15th moved him two clear before three steady pars on the way home left him clear of the pack at the top on 13 under par.

“The only thing I told myself today was just to try and get some momentum,” said Carlsson, who has not missed a cut in his last ten events, finishing top ten four times in that period. “I wanted to be patient out there and not stress any shots, not go for any pins that I shouldn’t.

“I started off by three-putting for a bogey and that felt terrible but then I got it back on the second and that calmed me a bit. I would say that was an early turning point, it made me believe in my strategy to not be too aggressive.

“On a few tough par fours I didn’t hit driver and managed to make par and then take advantage of some of the other holes.

“I have been putting well for about 11 weeks now so that is a key factor in my form. Other than that I just feel really comfortable out there and I'm not getting too nervous so that is a good feeling. 

“It helps that the Swedish guys, Jens Dantorp and Jens Fahrbring, have won on the Challenge Tour this year and I feel if they can do it I should be able to do it as well.

“Being up there at the top doesn’t feel as daunting as I thought it would but there is still a lot of golf left so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I have come to the realisation that I just love tournament golf so I'm not focussing on the result. I'm just trying to enjoy the process.

“I’m just looking up now and I know what I want to do in my mind and that is just to go out and win the tournament.”

The Gothenburg man admitted that he, like so many of his countrymen, has been inspired by the form of 2000 Challenge Tour Number One Stenson, who leads both The Race to Dubai and the US PGA Tour Rankings at the moment.

“I have thought at about him too to be honest,” he said. “If he can do it we can all do it. I met him about a year ago and he’s just a normal guy. We’re all just normal guys that just manage to keep our mind in a good state on the golf course.

“It’s amazing what he is doing at the moment, and inspiring. He’s Swedish and he’s not a wonder-child, like Tiger Woods was.  Hard work and working on the right things, no matter where you are in your career, can change everything and you can just start playing well.

“My professional career started a bit late because I wanted to study, but that is the decision I took and at the moment I'm pretty happy with that.”

Two shots back on 11 under par were Tyrrell Hatton of England and Scotsman Duncan Stewart, who both carded superb seven under par rounds of 65.

Spain’s Adrian Otaegui was a shot further back in fourth place after a three under par 69 moved him to ten under for the tournament.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CARLSSON, JohanSWE18-18
T2OTAEGUI, AdrianESP18-11
T2STEWART, DuncanSCO18-11
T2HATTON, TyrrellENG18-11
T5WILSON, OliverENG18-10
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