Date: January 13, 2008

Karlsson takes halfway lead

Robert Karlsson carded four birdies and just one bogey to hold a one-shot lead over France&aposs Jean-Francois Lucquin, who recorded a 71 as he sought back-to-back victories following his maiden European Tour triumph in Switzerland on Sunday. Richard Green is the best placed Australian after consecutive rounds of even-par has him in a tie for 23rd eight shots off the pace. The other two Aussies in the field Scott Strange and Stuart Appleby are struggling at four-over and five-over respectively. “It was important to forget about yesterday and how different the weather was,” said Karlsson, seeking a first win of the season after nine top-10 finishes – including eighth in the US Masters, fourth in the US Open and seventh in the Open. “I tried to take it as a new challenge and not get caught up in the conditions because it was quite rotten when we were warming up with a lot of water in the bunker and it was close (to being suspended) for a while. “I&aposm extremely happy with the round, especially playing in the last group when you are under a little more pressure. You just have to be in more and more situations like that to get used to it. “If the win comes, it comes, but if not there are other years. It&aposs important not to get caught up with it. When you are not winning you have to learn things and there were a number of tournaments where I did not do what I needed to at certain times.” Inevitably the prospect of the Ryder Cup looming on the horizon came up, but Karlsson feels that could be working to his advantage. “It takes some of the pressure off because if things are not going so well here I have something to look forward to next week.” Fellow Swede Peter Hanson is two shots off the lead on six under after a 69 while overnight joint-leader Richard Finch is another stroke adrift after a 73. Second Round of the Mercedes Benz Championships (Par 72): -8: Robert Karlsson 67 69 -7: Jean-Francois Lucquin 66 71 -6: Peter Hanson 69 69 -5: Richard Finch 66 73 -4: Soren Hansen 73 67, Marcel Siem 72 68 -3: Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 71 70, Johan Edfors 74 67, Ross Fisher 68 73, Marc Warren 72 69 -2: Mikko Ilonen 72 70, James Kingston 69 73, Jose Manuel Lara 73 69, Paul Lawrie 70 72, Francesco Molinari 71 71, Alexander Noren 71 71 -1: David Dixon 72 71, David Frost 71 72, Peter Hedblom 73 70, Soren Kjeldsen 73 70, Jeev Milkha Singh 73 70, Richard Sterne 70 73 Also: E: Richard Green (Australia) 72 72 +4: Scott Strange (Australia) 74 74 +5: Stuart Appleby (Australia) 74 75 +10: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 76 78