Sjoland fires record round

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 November, 1999, 12:00am

SWEDEN'S rising golf star Patrik Sjoland toyed with perfection yesterday on his way to a record-setting round.

The 28-year-old fired a course record eight-under-par 62 to snatch a four-stroke lead going into today's final round of the US$300,000 Perrier Hong Kong Open at Fanling.

Driving and putting superbly, Sjoland played the finest round of golf at Fanling since Nick Faldo shot a nine-under-par 62 on his way to victory in the Johnnie Walker Classic over a modified course at the Hong Kong Golf Club in 1990.

'I don't think I can play better than that,' admitted the modest Swede, who birdied the last two holes.

Sjoland eagled the third hole and had a string of birdies on his way to carding the lowest round in the event's 40-year history.

On a day of low scores, the Swede is on 13-under-par 197 and leads Ian Woosnam after the Welshman shot a four-under-par 66 for a 201 total.

Filipino Felix Casas fired himself into contention after carding a 65 to be third overall, five shots off the pace.

American Gary Rusnak, Friday's second-round leader, was another shot adrift after a 69 and there was a four-way tie for fifth place with American Ahmad Bateman, Scotland's Simon Yates, Sweden's Olle Nordberg and defending champion Kang Wook-soon of South Korea.

Sjoland mastered the 6,648 yard 70-par New Composite course with an unforgettable performance that delighted the gallery.

'I have been playing well all week and I have been hitting the ball well. My iron game has been as good as it has ever been.

'If I play my own game, I can win this but you never know what the other guys can do.

'They also have the capacity to hit low scores.

'Let's see what kind of weather we'll get tomorrow. If it rains, I will play different. I wouldn't want to say that I am under pressure. I'll just play my game. It's better to be four in front than four shots behind.

'I played good at last week's World Cup and I felt good coming into this tournament,' said the Swede, who helped his country to fifth place in Kuala Lumpur.

Sjoland has improved his performance with each round since opening with level par and firing five under 65 on Friday.

A solitary bogey on the fifth hole yesterday spoilt what could have been a perfect day for the Swede.

He came agonisingly close to scoring birdies on the 15th and 16th holes when he lipped the cup.

His approach shots on the 17th and the closing hole were superb, landing only eight feet from the cup on both occasions.

Annoyed by two ringing mobile phones on the 17th hole, Sjoland asked spectators to be quiet and he regained his composure to sink his putt.

Woosnam praised Sjoland, saying he deserved a 62 after playing 'really, really solid'.

'I'm four behind and hopefully I can do what Patrik did today in tomorrow's final round.

'But if he plays like that tomorrow, it will be hard to catch him. He was superb,' said the 41-year-old Welshman, the 1991 Masters champion, who matched Thursday's opening round when he also shot a 66.

'I played pretty solidly even though I had a couple of bad breaks.

'I could have been two or three shots better off. I had my chances,' he said.

Davidoff Tour Order of Merit leader Kyi Hla Han of Burma shot up the leaderboard with a 66 and is two under for the tournament in ninth place overall.

'I felt pretty good today. I hit the balls solidly and I made some good putts.

'I'm still in contention. Let's see how it goes tomorrow,' said the 38-year-old Hong Kong-based golfer.

Unus Alladin