Golf: Johansson's collapse gives Spain the edge

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The Independent Online
Sweden's challenge for their second World Cup victory suffered a blow when Per-Ulrik Johansson collapsed after the first round as Spain took over the lead. Andy Farrell reports from Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Per-Ulrik Johansson's spiky hairstyle never looks far from unkempt at the best of times. Yesterday, as he teed off in the second round of the World Cup, the Swedish Ryder Cup player looked like the unwell man he was.

The mere fact that Johansson made it to the first tee was important because he had been on the verge of quitting, despite Sweden's position at the top of the leaderboard, after collapsing in the clubhouse late on Thursday afternoon.

Although he felt better yesterday morning, Johansson was ready to retire at any time, leaving his partner, Joakim Haeggman, to continue solo in the individual competition. Even during his first-round 64, Johansson complained to his compatriot on the 16th hole that he was feeling tired. His eight-under effort, combined with Haeggman's 66, had given the Swedes a three-stroke lead over Germany at 14 under par.

Worryingly, something similar happened to the 30-year-old Johansson two weeks ago at the Sarazen World Open in Atlanta where, despite each of his rounds being worse than the one before, he finished 11th. "What's scary is that nobody has been able to tell me what it is yet," he said.

At his own request, Johansson was taken to a local hospital for tests. "I started feeling incredibly tired on the course yesterday and it just got worse when I was back in the clubhouse," he said prior to the second round. "I'll try to get through today's round but won't get pumped up as I'm not sure about my energy level. My health must come first."

Johansson, who won twice this year at the English and European Opens, narrowly missed qualification for the 1991 Ryder Cup match at Kiawah Island. In his rookie season, he won his maiden title, as well as being a member of the winning Sweden Dunhill and World Cup teams.

But he does not regret missing out on the experience of playing the Ocean Course six years ago, when it was a far tougher proposition than this week. "Maybe it was a good thing I didn't play in '91," Johansson said. "I didn't come here with respect for the course. I just went out and killed it."

His 64 put him one behind Germany's Alex Cejka in the individual stakes. Yesterday, however, not only was the breeze more worthy of the name, but the pins were tucked away in an attempt raise the scoring. The Swedes made only one birdie in the first seven holes, thanks to Haeggman at the second, before Johansson took a double bogey seven at the seventh.

At 13 under, that left them three behind Spain, who were the big movers early in the round. Ignacio Garrido, whose father Antonio won the World Cup with Seve Ballesteros in 1977 and is on caddieing duty this week, birdied the first three holes and then the sixth and the eighth as the Ryder Cup player and the Cup player who never was, Miguel Angel Martin, moved from nine under overnight to 16 under.

The pair are good friends and Garrido was outspoken in his support of his partner, and his criticism of Ballesteros during the controversy of Martin's exclusion from the match at Valderrama. That did not stop Ballesteros playing the young Garrido four times and he came up with three vital half- points.

With every score for each player counting, a team's position can change rapidly. England's pair of Paul Broadhurst and Mark James were languishing at two under until they went six under for their last four holes of the first round.

The finale was capped by James holing his approach at the ninth for an eagle-two. Yet both went to the turn in 37 yesterday to fall out of contention.

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