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Friday, 19 March 2010
Defending champion Lee Westwood assumed his customary position at the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Volvo Scandinavian Masters at Barseback G &CC in Malmo.

Westwood shot a second successive 67 to move to ten under par, one stroke clear of Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter.

Darren Clarke was a shot further back on eight under alongside a trio of Swedish players, Niclas Fasth, runner-up in the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes, Peter Hedblom, winner of the Volvo Finnish Open on the Challenge Tour last month, and Dennis Edlund.

Westwood's opening 67 had hinted that the 28-year-old from Worksop might finally have rediscovered the form that brought him seven wins worldwide last year and the title of European number one, ending Montgomerie's seven year reign.

And there was little doubt the defending champion was back to his best after today's effort that he rated better than Thursday's matching score.

A bogey at the third took him out in one-over-par 36 but he stormed back in six-under-par 31, finishing with four birdies in a row.

"It's great to be back on top of the leaderboard, that's where you want to be," said Westwood, who had missed the cut in four of his last six events and failed to defend three of his five European titles already this season.

"Coming down the stretch I felt like I was back and had not lost the habit of being in contention and knowing how to handle the pressure.

"It was nice to play better as the pressure was building up at the end. I've always said that's why I play competitive golf - to be in the cauldron.

"I felt last week I was one good round away from being back to my best and on the back nine I think I was.
"After a 65 in the pro-am last week I thought I was there but my attitude let me down."

Montgomerie shot a second round 69 while Poulter carded the round of the day with a 65 that included two bogeys, the second coming when his par putt on the 18th horseshoed round the hole.

"That was a shame because it would have been a great round but I hit a terrible tee shot into the trees and a par would have been a bonus," said Poulter, last season’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year who won the Moroccan Open earlier this year and the Italian Open last October.

"But I'm very happy. I played great all day apart from a few loose tee shots."

Clarke, meanwhile, still has his sights set on catching US Open champion Retief Goosen at the top of the Volvo Order of Merit.

"I always want to win, and to win on a golf course as good as this would be a huge bonus," said the Ulsterman.

"I think I can still catch Retief. I'm hitting the ball the way I want to at the moment, now I need to knock in a few more putts. "I had my chances to win the Order of Merit last year, but I was just beaten by a better player over the season."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1RILEY, WayneAUS18-7
2ROCCA, CostantinoITA18-6
T3BRAND JNR, GordonSCO18-3
T3ROE, MarkENG18-3
5MONTGOMERIE, ColinSCO18-14
T6POULTER, IanENG18-13
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