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

Darren Clarke has gave himself a superb chance to go "Double Dutch" this weekend after a second round 67 gave the defending champion a share of the KLM Open halfway lead with Swede Peter Hedblom in Zandvoort.

Nobody has retained the title since American Bob Byman in 1978, but Clarke's hopes are boosted by the fact that this is the same Kennemer course on which he won by four last year.

"It's one of my favourite venues. It sets up well for me and it's always nice to come back to a place where you've done well," said the Ulsterman, who has not had a single top ten finish since his victory 12 months ago.

After mixing three birdies with three bogeys on the front nine Clarke, who in a repeat of last year has his sons Tyrone and Conor with him, came home in 31 by picking up more strokes on the tenth, 12th and 15th.

Hedblom has not even had a top 20 finish this season, but he joined Clarke on eight under par with his second successive 66.

"When you're struggling it's nice to get away from everything," said the 39 year old. "I've just had a three week break and for part of that I took my motor boat and stayed on an island near where I live.

"I've been playing for so long that you learn that you have to keep frustration away. Last year was my best season, so I know I have the game."

They are a stroke ahead of England's Kenneth Ferrie, Welshman Bradley Dredge, Dubliner Peter Lawrie, Swede Oskar Henningsson and Australian Wade Ormsby.

Lawrie was ten under and clear leader with three to play, but hit a wild drive down the long seventh and lost it, then followed that bogey six with a double bogey on the 418 yard ninth.

For that he drove left again, had to chip out and three putted from only 15 feet.

"I played lovely apart from two bad shots," the 35 year old said after his 68. "But I'm only one behind and can't really complain."

Ferrie returned to Europe this year and missed his first 11 halfway cuts, but was sixth at the Open de France ALSTOM last month.

Henningsson, last November's European Tour Qualifying School winner, is seeking back-to-back victories after having two weeks off following his maiden victory in the Czech Republic.

Former World Cup winner Dredge has failed to avoid a double bogey in each of his first two rounds, but has also had an eagle and ten birdies.

A new course record of 63 was set by England's Marcus Higley - it was his lowest round on The European Tour by three - as he moved to six under and the score was then matched by Spain's Alejandro Cañizares as he improved from two over to five under.

First round leaders Paul McGinley and Gary Orr both slipped back. McGinley had a 70 to remain six under and Orr's 73 put him five behind.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1DYSON, SimonENG18-15
T1LAWRIE, PeterIRL18-15
T1HEDBLOM, PeterSWE18-15
4MCGRANE, DamienIRL18-14
T5CLARKE, DarrenNIR18-13
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