West­wood eases into ti­tle frame

Euro­pean Tour: Young French­man Stal­ter heads KLM field af­ter adding im­pres­sive 67

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - SPORT -

Lee West­wood moved into con­tention at the KLM Open with a bo­gey-free sec­ond round of 65 which left him three strokes off the lead at the half­way stage.

West­wood carded six birdies to fin­ish on sev­e­nun­der-par as French­man Joel Stal­ter added a 67 to his open­ing round 65 to emerge as the clear leader.

With bad weather hav­ing caused an early sus­pen­sion of play on Thurs­day, or­gan­is­ers strug­gled to catch up, with half the field un­able to com­plete their sec­ond rounds due to dark­ness.

Rookie Stal­ter is now in a strong po­si­tion to claim his first Euro­pean Tour ti­tle, one stroke ahead of Thai­land’s Ki­radech Aphibarn­rat, with Ger­man Se­bas­tian Heisele a fur­ther stroke back.

Stal­ter carded seven birdies as he com­pleted his open­ing round early yes­ter­day morn­ing, with his soli­tary blem­ish com­ing with a bo­gey on the fi­nal hole.

The Dutch­man re­cov­ered to pro­duce an in­creas­ingly strong show­ing in the sec­ond round, over­haul­ing Aphibarn­rat’s lead with a run of six birdies in 10 holes.

Stal­ter said: “I played re­ally solid and it was tough at the be­gin­ning. I gave up two shots but then I re­ally got it back strong.

“It’s too bad be­cause I maybe could have had a cou­ple more birdies at the end but it was a re­ally good round and I’m re­ally proud of my­self be­cause it was a re­ally long day.

“I’ve been in this sit­u­a­tion be­fore so I know what to ex­pect for the week­end, but the goal is to be on top of the leader­board on Sun­day.”

Scot­land’s Marc War­ren guar­an­teed him­self week- end work for only a sev­enth oc­ca­sion this sea­son thanks a rous­ing 67.

His ef­fort ended a run of two missed cuts as War­ren, who has slumped to world num­ber 475, has now made the cut in just seven of 19 Tour events this sea­son.

Aphibarn­rat said: “I’m start­ing to re­ally feel the ben­e­fit of work­ing with Mike Walker and Pete Cowan. I have been work­ing with them since the start of the year and have made so many good changes.

“They nearly ru­ined me with all the work I have had to do, but now it is start­ing to feel re­ally good. I need to now start aim­ing high and win­ning tour­na­ments more of­ten.”

“I played re­ally solid and it was tough at the be­gin­ning”

IM­PRES­SIVE RE­TURN: From Scot­land’s Marc War­ren, who has strug­gled on the Euro­pean Tour this sea­son

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