Friday, 06 July 2007

While Wimbledon stumbled on through incessant rain delays, the thoughts of those at The K Club on the other side of the Irish Sea were cast back 20 years as a blonde-haired Swede named Edberg announced himself to the sporting world.

The man in question was European Tour Qualifying School graduate Pelle Edberg rather than the two-time Wimbledon tennis champion (1988 and 1990), but the parallels were already being made before the bandana-wearing golfer revealed that his dad’s name is Stefan.

Edberg the golfer produced some wonderful strokes of his own on the lush grass of the Smurfit Course as he added a second round of five under par 65 to his opening 67, which swept him to the top of the leaderboard at lunchtime on day two of the Smurfit Kappa European Open.

With a 36-hole total of eight under par 132, Edberg enjoyed a three stroke clubhouse lead over Grégory Havret of France, who added a level par 70 to Thursday’s 65, and another Swede, Patrik Sjőland, round in 66 and 69.

One stroke further back on four under par were two winners from this season, Australian Richard Green and a third Swede in Peter Hedblom.

The strong Scandinavian contingent in the clubhouse was bolstered further when Dane Søren Hansen signed for a 68 that left on three under.

However, all the talk was of the Edberg, dressed in all black but sporting a bright red bandana, as he climbed above a strong field in one of Europe’s biggest tournaments.

His six-birdie card included 60 foot putts at the second and eighth holes and came on another windy and raining morning in Co. Kildare.

“I thought I was going to be more nervous when I played today seeing my name popping up the leaderboard, but I stayed pretty calm. Obviously, if there's going to be a crowd out there tomorrow, I may get nervous. I'm not used to that kind of situation,” explained Edberg.

A share of 14th place in Austria and 19th place in last week’s Open de France ALSTOM has whetted Edberg’s appetite and lifted his own expectations. “If the guys told me beforehand that I could have a Top 10, I would have taken it.  Now I am not so sure. Top 10 is always a good result and a good position, but I'm going to do everything I can to be up on the board on the weekend. I've enjoyed the challenge so far. Obviously the course has been shortened because of the rain, but I like having to shape the ball and I've needed to do that." 

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