Roope Kakko has been enjoying a return to form in his last two starts and now finds himself tied for the lead at the Made in Denmark Challenge – Presented by FREJA.
The Finn’s resurgence, however, has also been marked by the return of a painful ailment which left him hospitalised following the Euram Bank Open in Austria.
“Two weeks ago, I was in the hospital because I have reactive arthritis in my legs,” he said. “I’ve been totally pain free for nine years, and then all of a sudden in Austria, my arthritis made a return.
“I was really, super sore on the weekend and barely managed to finish in Austria, and I thought, ‘okay, this is not good.’ But I got into a hospital straight away and I was there for two days.
“I got really great, proper treatment straight away. I didn’t think I would be able to play in Vierumäki, and I had to pull out of the Pro-Am. I actually teed off in my sneakers for the first round.”
At last week’s Vierumäki Finnish Challenge, Kakko finished in a tie for third, just two shots behind eventual winner José-Filipe Lima, which marked his best result in over three years.
The 37-year-old credited his performance on the course to the perspective his painful ordeal had given him.
“For some reason, getting my arthritis back, it gave me the relaxation I needed,” he said. “I was just so happy to be out there last week. Just to play. The results weren’t as important as they had been before, or for a while now.
“Something just clicked and I felt at ease on the golf course. Just to be able to compete and play tournament golf. I realised how much I actually enjoy playing this game.”
The former European Tour winner has carried that form into the Made in Denmark Challenge. With opening rounds of 65-66, he shares the lead with Spaniard Pep Angles on 13 under par, and is ready for even more fun this weekend.
“Playing in the final group, of course it’s going to be a little bit more tense, there’s no way around it,” Kakko said. “I’m going to be a little bit more nervous tomorrow, that’s for sure, but if I can keep the same attitude, and stay committed on every shot, then it comes down to what state of mind you’re in.”
Angles will be equally as hungry for success, as he currently occupies the 63rd position on the Challenge Tour Rankings, and will need a strong finish to move into the top 40 and qualify for the limited-field Rolex Trophy in two weeks’ time.
Following two separate weather delays totalling three hours and 15 minutes, the second round was suspended due to darkness and will be completed tomorrow at 8:00 am local time.
The projected cut, to the top 60 players and ties, at the Made in Denmark Challenge currently stands at six under par, which would be the lowest 36-hole cut of the season on the Challenge Tour.