Big names fall in Malaga
More than 20 players are separated by only four shots at the Andalucian Open, where some big names have already fallen.
More than 20 players are separated by only four strokes at the halfway stage of the Andalucian Open in Malaga – but the event has already lost many of its big names.
Swede Rikard Karlberg, who does not even have a European Tour card, shares top spot on eight under par with Dane Jeppe Huldahl and Dutchman Maarten Lafeber.
However, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Darren Clarke and tournament promoter Miguel Angel Jimenez all failed to survive the cut, along with Australian Richard Green, who had to win to have a chance of qualifying for The Masters in two weeks.
Karlberg, who is playing on an invite, followed up his opening 65 with a 67 and would have led on his own but for three-putting the 16th late in the day.
Former Wales Open champion Huldahl had set the mark with a second successive 66 while Lafeber, whose only Tour win came in the 2003 Dutch Open, shot 65.
Scotland’s 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie is one behind along with England’s Jamie Elson and five-time Japanese Tour winner Tetsuji Hiratsuka, another of the invited players.
Green’s chances of climbing into the world’s top 50 and so earning a second appearance at Augusta were slim even if he had taken the title on Sunday.
But the left-hander had a second successive 71 for two over and missed the cut by three, as did Montgomerie after a 72 that means the 47-year-old’s search for a first top-10 finish since June 2008 goes on.
Olazabal, the Scot’s successor as Ryder Cup captain, and Clarke bowed out on one over and Jimenez on five over.
Karlberg’s £210,000 cheque for third place in the Singapore Open last November would normally have earned him a card for this season.
But because he had joined the Challenge Tour and did not play the required seven events he did not qualify for inclusion on the Order of Merit and so was left seeking invitations.
The 24-year-old from Gothenburg, twice a winner on the Asian Tour and their rookie of the year last season, said: “It was not too nice, I didn’t have a category at all.”
Victory on Sunday will make him exempt, while Huldahl is fully aware that his exemption for winning at Celtic Manor in 2009 runs out at the end of the year.
The 28-year-old slumped outside Europe’s top 150 last season and has embarked on swing changes to try to secure his future.
“To be a more stable player I had to have a better swing,” he said.
Lafeber is the most experienced of the trio out in front, but the 36-year-old has only one title in nearly 340 appearances on the circuit.
Lawrie, round in 67, will sense a big chance to end nearly nine years without a win, while at three under after posting the same score, England’s 50-year-old Barry Lane is still in the hunt to become the oldest winner in Tour history.
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