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Friday, 19 March 2010
KLM Open - Round Two  (Getty Images)
KLM Open - Round Two (Getty Images)

Darren Clarke gave a huge boost to his hopes of a Ryder Cup wild card by charging into a share of the halfway lead at The KLM Open in Holland.

The 40 year old Northern Irishman wanted to show Nick Faldo he has form as well as experience and did just that with a sparkling six under par 64.

It was his lowest score in a European Tour event since his unforgettable round of 60 during The European Open at The K Club in 1999 and he is now eight under par alongside England's Robert Rock and Swede Alexander Noren.

"I need to play well this well and next week and so far this week I've done that," said Clarke, who kept a bogey off his card on a Kennemer course he had never seen until this week.

"If Nick then feels I am worthy of a pick so be it. If not then that's acceptable.

"I was just very relaxed out there. With the boys (sons Tyrone and Conor) here I've got to be on my best behaviour and my attitude is just pretty good.

"I've taken a lot of pressure off myself and feel comfortable. I've been playing well and I'm in a good position now."

As for the race for the last three automatic spots in Faldo's Team, Justin Rose, Oliver Wilson and Soren Hansen are still able to control their own destiny.

Rose, joint fifth after an opening 67, lost some ground with a 69, but three birdies in his last six birdies made it a better day than it looked like being at one stage.

Wilson, ninth in the standings, remained one under, while Dane Hansen's 69 for six under was no mean effort given that he resumed with a double bogey six.

Hansen is €268 ahead of German Martin Kaymer in the last automatic spot and Kaymer reached four under before bogeying two of the last three for a 66. He is now two under overall.

Rock looked superb in a round of 64 and said afterwards: “I am just trying to make the most of limited starts this year. I got in here late so arrived yesterday and played okay and then got it round again today and I am right in it.

“I don’t think I have led after two rounds before but I have been close and maybe not pressed on enough to the weekend. I have maybe shot level or one under and that isn’t good enough – I have to try and shoot the same sort of scores over the weekend that I have for the first two days here and I will have a good chance to win.”

Noren, who shot a second successive 66, added: “I just love this golf course. I love playing in the wind, it’s fun, but today was calmer and o managed to score well again. I was third here last year and had a chance but (Ross) Fisher played great in the last round. But I just think this place looks great and plays great.”

Sweden's World Number Six Henrik Stenson, who moved to seven under with a 65, is firmly in contention.

The 32 year old has not won for 18 months, but tied up a second Cup appearance against the Americans by coming third in The Open Championship and fourth at the US PGA Championship.

"It's nice not to be on the bubble here," he said. "I was at The Open, but my two best Majors got me out of that tight pack.

"It's exciting to see how the team is going to shape up and I am starting to get the tingle - I am really excited about it and I think we are going to have a good time over there.

"I'm taking the next three weeks off to get fresh and ready - I hope."

Stenson was joined at seven under by Ross McGowan, who shot a brilliant 64.

Defending champion Fisher, 13th in the Cup race, made it through to the weekend on level par, while Nick Dougherty's lip-out on the last gave him a 68 and one over total.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-16
2MCGINLEY, PaulIRL18-12
3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-11
T4WARREN, MarcSCO18-9
T4SLATTERY, LeeENG18-9
T6HANSEN, SorenDEN18-8
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