Friday, 19 March 2010
SAS Masters - Round Two  (Getty Images)
SAS Masters - Round Two (Getty Images)

Ricardo Gonzalez and Lee Slattery, who got away from golf in very different places and in very different ways last week, are first and second at the halfway stage of the SAS Masters in Malmo.

Gonzalez, who after failing to qualify for The Open Championship returned to Argentina and worked on his farm all week, moved into the lead on ten under par after a second successive 68.

Gonzalez is having a rough year, finding himself 153rd on The Race To Dubai standings and 316th on the World Rankings.

His "Handicap Cero" farm south of Buenos Aires is also an education centre for youngsters and the 39 year old was out helping with the felling and stacking of trees to prepare for the winter.

"I started at around eight o'clock each day and worked through until about seven," said Gonzalez.

At 7,665 yards this week's lay-out is the longest in European Tour history it and was always going to suit the former caddie, who topped the driving distance statistics in Europe in both 2001 and 2004.

First round pacesetter Slattery, who went on picnics in the Lake District, is one behind after adding a 70 to his sparkling opening 67.

"I had to stop thinking about golf for a while," said the 30 year old from Southport, who has fallen to 136th place on The Race to Dubai and 504th in the World Rankings this season.

"Not only did I leave my clubs behind, I didn't even take my phone."

For the second day running the former Challenge Tour winner, yet to taste victory on The European Tour, was forced off the Bärseback course by an approaching storm.

In the first round it rather took the wind out of his sails after he had raced to an outward 30, but this time it worked in his favour.

"It was getting really windy when we stopped, but it had died down as we went back out."

Slattery finished with a superb 287 yard three wood onto the green at the long ninth and two putted for birdie.

Pre-tournament favourite Henrik Stenson, who is donating all his prize money to his new Foundation charity, was relieved not to leave empty-handed after a closing birdie removed the threat of missing the halfway cut.

Stenson is down on one over following a 74, but said: "At least I'm around for the weekend and hopefully I can put some gasoline on the fire now and really get going.

"I've got to attack even more. I didn't use my driver until the last hole of the second round, but you'll be seeing more of it tomorrow."

Joint third on six under, four behind Gonzalez, are Scotland's former US Amateur champion Richie Ramsay and Swede Martin Erlandsson.

Ramsay admits he was embarrassed by an opening 77, one of the worst scores of the day, in the Open last week and was put in touch with Padraig Harrington's American "mind guru" Bob Rotella.

"I really struggled mentally there I felt and he was just saying I've got to be more positive," said the Aberdeen golfer.

"I've got all the shots, but I need to believe in myself more."

Swedish Ryder Cup player Niclas Fasth would have been alongside them if he had parred the 10th, but instead he had three hacks at his ball in the rough and ran up a triple-bogey seven.


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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GONZALEZ, RicardoARG18-10
3HULDAHL, JeppeDEN18-6
T4HIGLEY, MarcusENG18-4
T4SMITH (AM), NathanUSA18-4
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