Choi returns to normal putting style, grabs lead in Scandinavian Masters

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An eagle and three birdies in a five-hole stretch midway through his round boosted KJ Choi into the lead in Stockholm.
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PA Sport

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Published: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 2:42 p.m.

K.J. Choi will try to bridge a seven-year gap this weekend -- and with it stop British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen from making a piece of European Tour history.

No winner of the Claret Jug has ever gone on to lift another trophy on the circuit a week later, but Oosthuizen still has that chance after adding a 2-under-par 70 to his opening 67 on Friday at the Nordea Scandinavian Masters.

However Choi, whose only previous victory in Europe was the 2003 German Masters, is two ahead of the South African at halfway, with Sweden’s Richard Johnson sandwiched between them.

In what looked like desperation two weeks ago, Choi switched to a bizarre-looking side-saddle putting method once used by the great Sam Snead. But after missed cuts at the John Deere Classic and then in the British Open at St. Andrews, the 40-year-old from South Korea has gone back to a conventional style.

"I need more practice at it. These greens are very slopey," said Choi, who despite scoring 67 missed a succession of makeable putts over the closing stretch.

Earlier, though, he had eagled the long 15th -- his sixth hole of the day -- and birdied three of the next four to open a five-stroke lead at the time.

Oosthuizen had his misses on the greens, too, but has no plans for any drastic changes.

"You've got to do what you've got to do, but I think I'll stick to my routine," said the 27-year-old.

Like Choi, Johnson is based in America and his only European Tour success was eight years ago -- in Australia. The 33-year-old's bogey-free 66 was the low round of the day.

Johnson's compatriot and playing partner Jesper Parnevik, out of golf since February after the discovery of a career-threatening fractured vertebrae, quit after 11 holes of his second round. That was longer than he feared he might last and Parnevik, 5 over at the time, will now continue the rehab which he hopes can make him a Tour regular again.

Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell had more shoulder trouble, meanwhile, and called it a day at 15 over with nine to play. The New Zealander has made only one cut in 19 events since last October.

Italian Edoardo Molinari, who with a second-place finish could knock Luke Donald out of the all-important top nine on the European Ryder Cup table, is still well in touch at 5 under.

American Ryder Cup hopeful Dustin Johnson is only one further back after a 73 containing five birdies, six bogeys and seven pars. But fellow American Rickie Fowler, who could yet force himself onto Corey Pavin's team in this, his rookie season, crashed out on 5 over after hitting two balls in the lake on the 13th and running up a triple-bogey 8.