Dougherty renews Ryder challenge as Wood shines again

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The Independent Online

Ryder Cup hopeful Nick Dougherty produced a sparkling finish to regain a share of the lead at the SAS Masters yesterday.

The 26-year-old from Liverpool birdied three of the last four holes for a second successive 66 at Arlandastad and goes into the weekend alongside the Swede Peter Hanson on eight under par.

Dougherty, leader of the Ryder Cup points table last October, has fallen to 15th since the death of his mother in April. He has been determined to play with a smile this week, however, and so far it is working.

"That's how I play and it's nice to be doing it again," he said. "The Ryder Cup would be lovely and I would be an idiot if I said it does not matter; but more important is enjoying my golf again. I've had my reasons to feel a bit down, but considering how I've played the last few months I have a lot to smile about."

There are two more counting tournaments to follow and Dougherty would be just outside an automatic top-10 spot if he were to win tomorrow.

Dougherty and Hanson are two ahead of Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen and the Swede Patrik Sjoland, with the former Ryder Cup pair Paul Broadhurst and Peter Baker, Scot Gary Orr and another Swede, Daniel Chopra, one shot further back.

Chris Wood, the 20-year-old making his professional debut four weeks after his stunning fifth-place finish in The Open, is shining again, joint 12th on three under. Wood, first man out in the second round, twice shared the lead early in his round, but a bogey at the 481-yard seventh meant he finished with a 67 and three-under total.

His Open performance at Royal Birkdale was the best by an amateur in a major since Justin Rose's fourth place 10 years ago and Wood's intentions are clear. "This is exactly what I had in mind – trying to challenge the lead," he said. "I am as good, if not better, than a lot of them, I think."