The surrounding atmosphere might have differed greatly to that of his opening round but the golf from Fredrik Jacobson was just as good, as a second round 65 gave the 27 year old Swede a commanding lead at the halfway stage of The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.
Jacobson was out in the second last group in the first round and although he finished in a blaze of glory with four birdies in his last six holes for a 66, there were very few spectators around on the Bonnie Banks to witness it at 9.15pm as dusk fell.
The second round was a different prospect however as large galleries followed the Swede home, especially after news filtered through of his five birdies in a row from the fifth. It helped Jacobson to an 11 under par total of 131 and a four shot lead over the resurgent Sandy Lyle and with his fellow countrymen Richard S Johnson and Carl Pettersson and England’s Justin Rose and Miles Tunnicliff a further shot adrift on six under par 136.
“I wasn’t really paying that much attention but I assume there weren’t too many people around on Thursday night,” he said. “I think even the scoreboard people had gone home by the time I finished but today was a lot different.”
Jacobson glorious run on the outward half began at the short fifth where he rolled in a 12 foot putt for a two before further birdie putts from seven, 15, ten and 25 feet dropped into the cup over the next four holes to see him out in 31.
The red-hot blade cooled a little on the inward half, but birdies at the 15th and 18th more than made up for a bogey five at the 12th and gave Jacobson pole position to challenge for his first European Tour International Schedule victory after five second place career finishes.
Two came in 2000 and Jacobson admitted the second of those, in the Murphy’s Irish Open at Ballybunion where he was one shot clear with two to play before losing to fellow Swede Patrik Sjöland, hit him hard.
“At that stage I thought I was as close to winning as anybody,” said Jacobson. “When I went into that week I thought I was going to win, but it just fell away over the last couple of holes and that took a lot out of me.”
Ironically, the Swede went into this week not overburdened with confidence either, after four missed cuts in succession, but admitted some work done with coach Richard Fors last Monday had helped move him in the right direction.
“I worked a bit on my swing because I’ve been hitting it a bit sideways for the last couple of months,” he said. “I’ve been wide a couple of times this week as well so it is not all there yet, but my iron play and my putting has been very good so that has helped.”
Second placed Lyle continued to show the upturn in form which has seen him finish in the top 20 of the Victor Chandler British Masters, the Compass Group English Open and the Murphy’s Irish Open over the past couple of months. Partnering Jacobson will see Lyle appear in the last group in a European Tour event on a weekend for the first time since the Volvo Masters in 1992.
“Playing at weekends is a nice habit to have – I recommend it to most professional golfers,” joked the Scot. “And you get paid for it as well – it’s good!”
Lyle admitted the days where he was not playing well had actually stood him in good stead for the good periods now. He said: “I definitely feel on the course now that I take things a lot better if things are not going quite to plan. It’s not the end of the world but, having said that, it is nice to be out there competing at a high level again.”
Lyle carded three birdies and two bogeys in his 68, but the highlight of the round came at the 415 yard 12th where, after a three wood found the centre of the fairway, a nine iron found the bottom of the cup from 135 yards for an audacious eagle two.
In joint fourth place, Richard S Johnson and Carl Pettersson continued the good day for Sweden, Johnson matching Jacobson’s 65 for his six under par total of 136 while Pettersson reached that mark with a flawless 66.
Both players have already won on the 2002 European Tour, Johnson claiming the ANZ Championship while Pettersson triumphed in the Algarve Open de Portugal and he admitted it has helped his showing in the following tournaments.
“Winning gives up that extra bit of confidence that you know you fit in and can play against the best players in Europe,” said Pettersson, whose round highlight came with a 30 foot putt for eagle three on the 518 yard third. “It is just a big boost.”
Johnson was doubly delighted to be on the upper echelons of a leaderboard considering the fact he toyed with the idea of pulling out of the tournament before his second round began suffering with a heavy cold.
“I felt it first on Wednesday night and then I woke up on Thursday morning with a really bad cold. I got some medication so hopefully it will be better tomorrow, but the only problem with it was that I had to go to the toilet after nearly every hole because it takes the water out of your system! The guys were laughing at me because I was disappearing into the woods after every hole!”
Unlike leader Jacobson, Johnson could not quite manage a run of five birdies in a row but he did put together a mini-run of three on the spin from the 14th which erased the memory of his bogey five at the 12th where he made his only mistake of the day, coming up short of the green with his seven iron approach.
But alongside them, Justin Rose was a little unhappier, having started the day in the lead after his opening 65 but who slipped back with a 71 which included a three putt bogey five on the 18th.
“I’m still in the tournament,” said Rose. “Freddie has a four shot lead but if you look at the rest of the pack, I’m right in there so it is a good two days work. Level par is never a disaster but it was just frustrating. I missed a lot of short putts today which I didn’t do yesterday.”
Fellow Englishman Tunnicliff, who won his maiden Tour victory last month in the Great North Open at De Vere Slaley Hall, could not quite repeat the fireworks of his opening 66, but a birdie three at the 18th gave him a 70 and another challenging position.