Date: August 16, 2008

Millar six strokes adrift

Matthew Millar is six shots off the pace on two-under heading into the third round of the SAS Masters in Stockholm after a disastrous day for the Australians. Millar and Peter O&aposMalley (one-over) are the only two Aussies who survived the cut as Scott Barr (two-over), Peter Fowler (three-over), Terry Pilkadaris (three-over), Marcus Fraser (four-over) and Wade Ormsby (seven-over) all fell by the wayside. Ryder Cup hopeful Nick Dougherty and Swede Peter Hanson lead the way on eight-under-par. Millar, who started on the back nine, fought back from equal 51st spot to end up in a share of 19th position thanks to a faultless round two which included birdies at the 6th, 9th and 17th. It was a dramatic turnaround in form for Fowler and Pilkadaris, who were both one stroke off the lead after the first round, as they each signed off for second rounds of 76. Meanwhile, Dougherty produced a sparkling finish to regain a share of the lead. The 26-year-old from Liverpool birdied three of the last four holes for a second successive 66 at Arlandastad. Dougherty, leader of the Ryder Cup points table last October, has fallen to 15th since the death of his mother after a heart attack in April. He has been determined to play with a smile on his face once more this week, however, and so far it is working wonders. “That&aposs how I play and it&aposs nice to be doing it again,” he said. “The Ryder Cup would be lovely and I would be an idiot if I said it does not matter, but more important is enjoying my golf again.” “I&aposve had my reasons to feel a bit down, but considering how I&aposve played the last few months I&aposve a lot to smile about this week.” There are two more counting tournaments to follow and Dougherty would be just outside an automatic top-10 spot if he were to triumph on Sunday (Swedish time). His late run began in unlikely fashion on the 545-yard 15th when he missed the fairway by almost 50 yards, then went left before pitching to 15 feet and making the putt. Dougherty then got up and down from sand at the 17th, another par five, and hit a glorious four-iron to 10 feet on the next. Hanson also repeated his opening 66, grabbing birdies at three of the first six holes and adding another on the 15th. They are two ahead of Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Swede Patrik Sjoland, with former Ryder Cup pair Paul Broadhurst and Peter Baker, Scot Gary Orr and another Swede, US Tour-based Daniel Chopra, one further back. Bristol 20-year-old Chris Wood, making his professional debut four weeks after his stunning fifth place finish in The Open, is shining again, joint 12th on three-under. Wood, first man out in the second round, twice shared the lead early in his round, but a bogey at the 481-yard 7th, his 16th, meant he finished with a 67 and three-under total. His performance at Royal Birkdale was the best by an amateur in a major since Justin Rose&aposs fourth place on the same course 10 years ago. Rose then missed his first 21 cuts as a pro, but Wood was never focusing on simply getting through the first two rounds. “This is exactly what I had in mind – trying to challenge the lead,” said the six-foot-five-inch former England international. “I am as good if not better than a lot of them, I think.” “My coach and I have always known I have the ability to do it. I just needed the opportunity and I got it at The Open and took it.” “I just played my normal golf there and it gives me a huge amount of confidence.” American DJ Trahan, a contender for a wild card from American captain Paul Azinger, missed the cut on three-over just like his compatriot Dudley Hart and will hope to be much more impressive when the FedEx Cup play-off series begins in New Jersey next week. The round of the week came after most of the crowd had left. In the last group of the day Swedish amateur David Palm shot a blistering 62 – 17 strokes better than an opening round that had left him 155th out of 156. His closing birdie four enabled him to make the halfway cut on one-over. It equalled the lowest round ever by an amateur on the European Tour, but preferred lies meant it will not enter the record books or constitute a course record. Second Round of the SAS Masters (Par 72): -8: Nick Dougherty 66 66, Peter Hanson 66 66 -6: Soren Kjeldsen 69 65, Patrick Sjoland 68 66 -5: Peter Baker 67 68, Paul Broadhurst 67 68, Daniel Chopra 71 64, Gary Orr 67 68 -4: Jamie Donaldson 68 68, Pelle Edberg 69 67, Graeme Storm 70 66 -3: Alejandro Canizares 71 66, Andreas Hogberg 70 67, Craig Lee 72 65, Jesper Parnevik 68 69, Manuel Quiros 71 66, Martin Wiegele 71 66, Chris Wood 70 67 Also: -2: Matthew Millar (Australia) 71 67 E: Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 68 72 +1: Peter O Malley (Australia) 74 67 +2: Scott Barr (Australia) 68 74 +3: Steve Alker (New Zealand) 72 71, Peter Fowler (Australia) 67 76, Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 67 76 +4: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 75 69 +7: Wade Ormsby (Australia) 75 72