Date: August 25, 2007

Kiwi poised for weekend challenge

Kiwi golfer Steve Alker has carded a second consecutive four-under-par 66 to lie in second place of the KLM Open in the Netherlands, two strokes behind halfway leader David Carter of England. Carter, without a European Tour victory in nine years, emerged from a &aposdeep, dark hole&apos to lead the field at the halfway stage. The Englishman carded a second consecutive 65 at Kennemer Golf Club for a 10-under-par total of 130, two shots ahead of Sweden&aposs Alexander Noren, Alker and local favourite Joost Luiten. The 35-year-old won the Irish Open in 1998 and lifted the World Cup with Nick Faldo in New Zealand later the same year, but has not finished inside the top 75 on the Order of Merit since 1999. Hot on his tail is Alker, who pieced together four birdies in his first seven holes on Friday during a bogey-free round and is in prime position to attack on the weekend. Fellow New Zealander Michael Campbell struggled after his fine opening round of 65, recording a disastrous triple bogey six at the par three 8th on the way to a round of 71. Campbell dropped 16 places into a tie for 19th. David Brandsdon leads the Australian charge on three-under, following two solid rounds of 68 and 69. Fellow countrymen Brett Rumsford, Wade Ormsby and Matthew Millar are close behind on one-under-par heading into the weekend, while Terry Pilkadaris, Scott Strange, Andrew Tampion, Matthew Zions, Terry Price and Andrew Hastie missed the cut. Born in Johannesburg but now based in Gothenburg, Carter had to return to the qualifying school in 2003 and finished 27th in the final event of last season to keep his card by less than 2,700. He faces another battle this year, currently occupying a lowly 186th on the money list with only the top 115 guaranteed to keep their playing rights for 2008, but victory here on Sunday would instantly secure a two-year tour exemption and the first prize of 180,000. “It&aposs great to be leading, this is what we play the game for,” Carter said. “Of course I&aposm going to be nervous tomorrow but I&aposm nervous every time I play and that&aposs a good thing.” “I&aposm just going to keep doing what I&aposm doing and enjoy it – after all, how many times have I led a tournament in my career? It&aposs not many.” Not surprisingly for someone who almost died in Dubai in 1997 when he required emergency brain surgery after collapsing in his hotel room, Carter has a measured response to the threat of losing his card. But he admits there were times this season when he was seriously contemplating his future in the game. “I try to think of keeping my card as a challenge. It&aposs not a train smash, it&aposs part of the job,” he said. “It&aposs not nice to be 186th on the money list and be trying to secure your job for next year but I can&apost run away from it, I have to deal with it.” “I think Loch Lomond this year was really when I was thinking &aposWhat am I doing?&apos I&aposd missed four cuts in a row and then had to pull out 15 minutes before my tee time because my back went into spasm.” “When you&aposre in that deep, dark hole you don&apost know how you&aposre going to get out. It&aposs tough to believe in yourself at the time.” “I never forget Wayne Riley telling me when I had been out here two or three years that it doesn&apost get any easier. I thought it should do as you&aposve played all the courses before and know what to expect.”