Former Ryder Cup player Jarmo Sandelin and Mikael Lundberg continued Sweden's recent dominance of the Inteco Russian Open Golf Championship on Friday by claiming the lead at the halfway point in Moscow.
Both players carded second rounds of 64 to finish 13 under par, one shot ahead of England's Robert Rock who also returned a 64.
Lundberg won his only title on The European Tour to date in the Russian capital in 2005, while fellow Swede Per-Ulrik Johansson triumphed 12 months ago.
"Maybe it’s because we are only two hours away," said Sandelin. "In fact I was born in Finland and that’s even closer, 10 kilometres from the Russian border. Maybe that’s the inspiration."
Sandelin won the fifth of his titles on The European Tour in 2002, three years after representing Europe in The Ryder Cup at Brookline, but since then has struggled to reproduce that form and held onto his tour card at the end of last season by €77.
Starting his second round from the tenth, Sandelin picked up shots at the 11th and 12th and then rolled in a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th to reach the turn in 31.
For the second day in succession he bogeyed the first but bounced back with a birdie on the next after chipping within inches of the hole.
Sandelin also birdied the sixth and then hit the pin with his approach to the seventh. The ball unfortunately bounced 20 feet away but the 41 year old holed for birdie and then hit his tee shot at the eighth to within inches of the hole to make it three in a row.
Sandelin added: “I holed the putts today and that’s what scoring is all about. Of course you have to hit good tee shots and second shots but overall I am very confident and hopefully you will see that over the next two days.”
Lundberg admitted he enjoys a special connection with the Le Meridien Moscow Country Club. He said: “The feeling I get as soon as I step on this golf course is like, if I play badly I’ll shoot two or three under. That’s the feeling – I know every shot that I am going to play, especially from the tee, before I go out. I know exactly where to put it and I don’t feel like I need to go out and try to make birdies, I just have to make sure I don’t make too many mistakes.
“I feel that I don’t have to beat anyone around here – they have to beat me.”
Rock had also started from the tenth and matched Sandelin’s outward half of 31.
The 31 year old then birdied the second and bogeyed the fourth before holing from 30 feet for eagle on the par five fifth. He picked up another birdie on the eighth and afterwards admitted his satisfaction at the recent improvements in his swing.
He said: “It’s been a long process of building my swing to where I wanted it to be. It was good all of last year but very new to me, whereas now I have been having the same swing thoughts for the last year which is great because I used to have four or five different ones every week!
“That has really been the key to consistency. When I came out on Tour a few years back I drove the ball well and putted very well. My iron play was never great and I knew that, but I got by okay. I knew I needed to do a lot of work and I have done that and it makes it more satisfying when you have a good understanding of your swing.”
Norway’s Jan-Are Larsen is fourth on 11 under par, while France’s François Delamontagne is tied with Spain’s Ignacio Sanchez-Palencia a stroke further back in fifth.
Defending champion Johansson was six off the lead after adding a 68 to his opening 69 to lie seven under par.
Former winner of The Open Championship John Daly was three under after seven holes of his second round and on course to make the halfway cut.
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