STOCKHOLM -- Lee Westwood showed why Sweden is a happy hunting ground for him on Thursday as he carded a 64 to move three shots clear of the field at the European Tour’s Nordea Masters.
Westwood followed up his first-round score of 68 by registering eight birdies to move to 12 under par ahead of a chasing pack of three. The tournament started on Wednesday and ends on Saturday to help some of its players make it to the U.S. Open more easily.
The Nordea Masters provided Westwood with his first European Tour victory in 1996, and he also won the event in 2000. And the world No. 3 was delighted to top the summit after Day 2.
"I've always enjoyed coming to Sweden," Westwood said. "Obviously winning here for the first time in 1996 gave me an affinity. And then I won again in 2000 when I won the money list, so I've had a lot of success in Sweden and it's somewhere I enjoy coming to.
"I played nicely yesterday but today I played a little bit better," he explained. "I'm getting to know the course a little bit better every day and it was there for the taking this morning. There was not a lot of wind and the greens were pretty pure.
"I'm putting the ball well and rolling it nicely on the greens, which gives you confidence," he added. "I hit it pretty close so I gave myself a lot of chances."
Lloyd Saltman, ranked 512 in the world, also carded a 64, the highlight of which was an albatross on the par-5 12th that came after he struck a sweet 3-iron that rolled in from some 237 yards.
"I had a great number," he said. "I started walking then heard a little roar and knew it was in, so that was nice."
Saltman was joined by local favorite Peter Hanson and Spain's Carlos Del Moral at 9 under. Hanson had a double bogey at the 11th but recovered with three birdies in his next four holes.
"I didn't strike the ball as well as I would have hoped and 68 was a good result," said 2008 champion Hanson.
A score of 72 meant overnight leader Magnus Carlsson was five shots off the lead along with one-time clubhouse leader Richard Bland.
Sergio Garcia threatened briefly, but he found water at the par-5 13th and made 69 to finish two rounds at 6 under.