Noren leads Nordea Masters by three at halfway, Watson five shots back

alex noren
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With the Bro Hof clubhouse looming behind him, Alex Noren got off to a hot start on Friday.
By
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Friday, July 22, 2011 | 3:34 p.m.

Alexander Noren of Sweden produced the co-best round of the European Tour’s Nordea Masters so far on Friday to take the outright lead at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club at the halfway point.

The 29-year-old, born in the Swedish capital, began the day in a share of first place with the amateur Robert Karlsson and South African Jaco van Zyl. But while his fellow co-leaders could not improve on their opening 5-under-par 67s, Noren exceeded his.

2011 NORDEA MASTERS

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., and opened in 2007, Bro Hof is considered one of the world's best new courses and a potential Ryder Cup host in the future.

Noren began in ominous form with birdies at the first two holes, and with three more coming between the sixth and ninth he reached the turn in 31.

After such an impressive front nine, the fireworks abated coming home and after picking up another stroke at the 175-yard 11th he parred his way home to finish with a blemish-free round of 66.

That put him 11 under, and his main challenger three shots back was India's Shiv Kapur who, starting on the back nine, carded eight birdies and two bogeys, to match Noren's earlier 66.

"I played probably the best I've ever played. It's just been great, everything has been going better,” said Noren. "I don't think I've ever done that on this course and I've played here a lot. It really helps playing this course a lot, I know what lines there are and I know when to step back."

American Bubba Watson's previous experience of a European Tour event in France nearly a month ago ended with the big-hitting left-hander missing the cut and offending the locals with his derogatory references to Paris' iconic landmarks.

Stockholm appears to suit him better as, after an opening 71, he transformed his second round with an eagle, six birdies and three bogeys to sign for a 67 that lifted him to 6 under overall.

Watson's fellow American Dustin Johnson, second at the British Open on Sunday and the highest-ranked player in the field, ensured he made the cut with a round of 71 that put him 1 under.

Veteran professional Robert Karlsson, who was upstaged by his amateur namesake on Thursday, clawed back some kudos with a 70 that took him to 5 under and into a share of fifth.

"It's great for Swedish golf,” said Karlsson of his amateur namesake. "Not only to have him but other Swedish players as well, young amateurs.

"It was quite interesting yesterday not having started and to be leading a tournament,” he joked. "It was quite funny. Robert Karlsson 4 under and he's on the range!"

The amateur did not fare so well in his second round with a 75 dropping him back to 2 under.