Ex-British Open champion Hamilton charges into contention at KLM Open

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Todd Hamilton isn't a fan of the KLM Open's host course, but he's scoring well there nevertheless.
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PA Sport and Associated Press

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Todd Hamilton's decision to join the European Tour could bring him his first victory since the 2004 British Open this weekend. The 44-year-old American, now down at 545th in the world and with only two cuts made in his last 19 events, is just a stroke behind Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and India’s Shiv Kapur at the halfway stage of the KLM Open.

"I don't have full status on the U.S. tour any more, so I looked at the schedule and thought I'd come to places I've never been to,” said Hamilton, 7 under par after rounds of 66 and 67, on Friday. "When I got here it wasn't the type of course I enjoy playing. You need to drive well and I haven't been doing that as well as I would have liked.

"I thought I'd struggle, but a lot of times whatever you think is going to happen doesn't happen,” he added. "I didn't hit a lot of fairways, but it seemed like I always had a good angle to the flag and everything worked out."

Alongside Hamilton at 7 under were Christian Nilsson of Sweden after a second-round 65 and Jean Francois Lucquin of France, who shot a 67.

Colsaerts had opened the event with a career-low 62, but was able to add only a level-par 70 in the second round. Losing a ball in the heather at the 476-yard sixth -- his 15th -- cost the big-hitting 27-year-old a double-bogey 6, and he finished with another dropped shot.

"It is never easy to go and play again on a course you felt you owned the previous day, It was playing more difficult," said Colsaerts. "We had a couple of rain showers and there was a breeze. On the first day it was a lot easier. Today it was like playing a different golf course."

Three birdies in five holes had taken him to 10 under and into a two-shot lead. But with three holes to play, he surrendered the lead by running up a double bogey at the sixth, where he drove his ball into heather and lost it. He regained a one-shot lead with 20-foot birdie putt at the next but on his last green he missed a 10-foot effort to save par and retain his advantage.

Kapur, also seeking his first victory on the circuit, managed only three birdies compared to six and an eagle in his first-round 64, but his only bogey came at the short 15th and so he handed in a 68.

After his first-round 64, Kapur also found the rain problematic, but after his 68 he feared more for the tournament than his score.

"The course has held up well so far, but it doesn't need much more at the weekend to make it unplayable," he said.

Clear favorite for the title is Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who in his first tournament since winning the PGA Championship four weeks ago has started with two 67s to be just two behind. Like most of the field, he had trouble making anything on the soft greens.

"I think it was a little mistake that we played the pro-am on Wednesday,” he said. “I think they could have saved them for the tournament."

Kaymer’s Ryder Cup teammates Ross Fisher and Francesco Molinari are seven back after rounds of 71 and 74, respectively. Fisher, who had been tied for fourth spot overnight, bogeyed four of his first six holes, took a 6 at the long 12th and had to wait until the final green for his one and only birdie.