Date: August 23, 2008

Fowler finds some form

Australian Peter Fowler has carded a three-under-par second round of 67 to be six shots off the pace at the KLM Open in Holland. Fowler began the day in a share of 59th position after his opening round of 71, but he ended it in equal 30th spot on two-under and in touch with halfway leaders Darren Clarke, Alexander Noren and Robert Rock who are all on eight-under. The Aussie enjoyed a much better second day as he reeled off birdies at the 4th, 9th, 11th and 16th holes with a bogey on No.14 his only blemish. Meanwhile, compatriots Matthew Millar and Peter O&aposMalley just made the cut and are both two strokes further back on even-par but Marcus Fraser wasn&apost so lucky as his even-par round of 70 wasn&apost enough to ensure that he&aposd see action in the final two rounds following his first-round 72. Clarke gave a huge boost to his hopes of a Ryder Cup wild card by charging into a share of the lead. The 40-year-old Ulsterman wanted to show Nick Faldo he has form as well as experience and did just that with a sparkling six-under-par 64. Amazingly, Clarke has not scored lower in a European Tour event since his unforgettable round of 60 during the 1999 European Open at The K Club. He is now alongside Englishman Rock and Swede Noren – and neither of them has ever won on the circuit. Clarke&aposs display is certainly food for thought for Colin Montgomerie, with whom he could be fighting for the final place in the European line-up for next month&aposs match in Kentucky. Faldo has two wild cards to hand out on Sunday week and Paul Casey is probably favourite for one of them after his recent run, while Open runner-up Ian Poulter still has hopes of being one of the 10 to qualify automatically. Montgomerie has struggled since his second-place finish at the French Open at the end of June, but he does still have next week&aposs Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to impress. “I need to play well this week and next week and so far this week I&aposve 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&aposs acceptable.” “I was just very relaxed out there. With the boys (sons Tyrone and Conor) here I&aposve got to be on my best behaviour and my attitude is just pretty good. “I&aposve taken a lot of pressure off myself and feel comfortable. I&aposve been playing well and I&aposm in a good position now.” Clarke won in China in April – Montgomerie&aposs last victory was July last year – and just three weeks ago tied for sixth at the Bridgestone world championship. The Scot was 77th out of 80 there and then 149th out of 155 at the US PGA. Clarke also missed the cut, but by three shots rather than 12. As for the race for the last three automatic spots in Faldo&aposs side 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 made it a better day than it looked like being at one stage. Wilson, ninth in the standings, remained one-under, while Dane Soren Hansen&aposs 69 for six-under was no mean effort given that he resumed with a double-bogey six. Hansen is 213 points 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. The favourite for the title would appear to be Sweden&aposs world number six Henrik Stenson, who moved to seven-under with a 65. 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 and fourth at the US PGA. “It&aposs 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&aposs 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&aposm taking the next three weeks off to get fresh and ready – I hope.” Stenson turned down his US Tour card to lighten his schedule and, even though they are currently playing for a five-million-pound ($AU 10,670,392) jackpot, he has no regrets. Defending champion Ross Fisher, 13th in the cup race, just made it through to the weekend on level par, but Nick Dougherty&aposs lip-out on the last for a 68 and one-over total left him waiting to see if that was good enough to survive. Dougherty is 14th on the table and will be glad the race ends next week and not this week. Already more than 100,000 pounds ($AU 213,407) behind Hansen, Dougherty&aposs missed cut might mean he has to win at Gleneagles to grab a cup debut. Also out by one on one-over went Open amateur star Chris Wood. He was round in a joint best-of-the-week 64, but was left to curse a two-stroke penalty for a wrong drop in his opening 77. Playing just his second professional event, the 20-year-old from Bristol learnt the hard way that the European Tour has some different rules from what he is used to. Second Round of the KLM Open (Par 70): -8: Darren Clarke 68 64, Alexander Noren 66 66, Robert Rock 68 64 -7: Ross McGowan 69 64, Henrik Stenson 68 65 -6: Felipe Aguilar 70 64, Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 68 66, Simon Dyson 70 64, Soren Hansen 65 69 -5: Anders Hansen 69 66, Gary Orr 68 67, Graeme Storm 71 64, Anthony Wall 67 68 -4: John Bickerton 65 71, Gregory Bourdy 69 67, Jamie Donaldson 71 65, Jan-Are Larsen 69 67, David Lynn 70 66, Damien McGrane 67 69, Rolf Muntz 64 72, Justin Rose 67 69, Alvaro Velasco 68 68, Marc Warren 72 64 Also: -2: Peter Fowler (Australia) 71 67 E: Matthew Millar (Australia) 71 69, Peter O Malley (Australia) 71 69 +2: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 72 70, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 69 73