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Friday, 15 December 2006

Patrik Sjöland expressed his renewed hunger for golf with a course record eight under par 64, which gave the Swede a one stroke lead at the halfway stage of the South African Airways Open at Humewood Golf Club.

Sjöland sits proudly at the top of the leaderboard on 12 under par 132, but looming large are the South African ‘Big Three’ of Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman.

Els and Immelman carded 66s to share second place on 11 under par, while Goosen also matched that score to move in fourth spot on nine under par alongside England’s Andrew Raitt (68).

The chasing pack was strengthened further when England’s Lee Westwood produced his second round of 68 to join the group on eight under, but this will not unduly trouble Sjöland who has returned to golf with a new perspective and zest after losing his card in 2005.

Instead of heading to the Qualifying School the Swede opted to take a break, during which time he made only a solitary Challenge Tour appearance in his home country at the Telia Challenge Waxholm.

But his appetite for practice returned and he put it to good use, emerging from The 2006 European Tour Qualifying School in receipt of the seventh ranked card.

“I got tired of all the travelling and being away from the family so I think it was pretty nice to lose the card and to be able to spend some time at home and think things over.

“I got the enjoyment back and started to love the game again. If you don't enjoy it you're not going to perform well,” explained Sjöland, who certainly enjoyed himself on Friday as benign conditions allowed him to reel off nine birdies.

Els, meanwhile, returned five birdies, an eagle and one bogey while Immelman had seven birdies, an eagle and three dropped strokes.

“I’ve got to be happy with that,” said Els, the World Number Eight. “I really played well today, although I felt I could have done a lot better on the front nine. I kept my patience and started making some birdies on the back nine.”

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