Gonzalez leads Slattery by a shot
Ricardo Gonzalez and overnight leader Lee Slattery are 1st and 2nd at the halfway stage of the SAS Masters.
Big-hitting Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez and English overnight leader Lee Slattery, both seem to have benifitted from getting away from golf last week – even though it was in very different places and in very different ways.
The pair filled the first and second places at the halfway stage of the SAS Masters in Malmo on Friday.
Gonzalez, who, after failing to qualify for The Open, returned to Argentina and worked on his farm all week, moved into the lead on 10 under par after a second successive 68.
This while first-round pacesetter Slattery, who instead went picnicking 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 European money list and 504th in the world 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 main circuit, was forced off the Barseback 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.
Gonzalez is also 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.
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.”
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