Monday 20 November 2017

Soren Kjeldsen sets pace at British Masters

Soren Kjeldsen moved to nine under par on Friday
Soren Kjeldsen moved to nine under par on Friday

Self-confessed "geek" Soren Kjeldsen marked down another successful round in his own record book after setting the clubhouse target in the British Masters on Friday.

Kjeldsen carded five birdies and two bogeys to add a 68 to his opening 65 and finish nine under par, one shot ahead of England's Matt Fitzpatrick, who had two holes to play.

The 40-year-old Dane has kept statistics and notes of every round since he was 11 years old, an approach which appears to be paying dividends this season with victory in the Irish Open and runners-up finishes in Sweden and Denmark, where he played his 500th European Tour event.

Kjeldsen was level par for the day after 11 holes before holing a bunker shot on the third and picking up further birdies from close range on the fifth and sixth.

"That was nice because I had a little bit of a slow start," Kjeldsen said. "I made a nice birdie on one and then a poor bogey on two. I hit a bad second shot on three into the bunker there a nd then I holed that nice bunker shot and that sort of set me up for the back nine. I played well after that."

Asked if he was playing the best golf of his career, Kjeldsen added: "I t's not far off. It's been really good the last six months. But still, I've been to 31 in the world and right now I'm 59. So to be able to say that I'm better than ever, I need to play on that level a little bit."

Fitzpatrick held the overnight lead after an opening 64 and was briefly two shots clear when he birdied the 10th, his first hole of the day, but dropped shots on the 11th, 16th and first.

The 21-year-old former US Amateur champion then produced a contender for shot of the day to birdie the third, conjuring up a delicate chip into the fringe and onto a steep downslope before seeing the ball curl perfectly into the hole.

Ireland's Shane Lowry was two shots off the clubhouse lead after a round of 69, with English pair Robert Rock and David Howell on five under after rounds of 65 and 66 respectively.

Fitzpatrick finished in style with a birdie from seven feet on the ninth to complete a battling 69 and join Kjeldsen in the lead on nine under.

Fitzpatrick is in his first full season on the European Tour after coming through the qualifying school last November, but is currently 36th on the Race to Dubai after three top-three finishes in his last seven events.

Asked about the prospect of winning his first title this weekend, Fitzpatrick said: "Hopefully it will come with time. I have said to everyone it's not something I am absolutely chasing and focusing on.

"If I don't win between now and the Masters (next April) but get into Augusta on the world rankings, I will be a happy man."

As US Amateur champion, Fitzpatrick partnered defending champion Adam Scott and US PGA champion Jason Dufner in the first two rounds at Augusta in 2014, where he missed the cut by a single shot.

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