Green steals lead in testing conditions

Richard Green conquered an increasingly difficult course yesterday to take a three-stroke lead in the KLM Dutch Open.

Exceptionally warm weather saw the greens dry out fast, but the Australian followed his first-round 65 with a seven-under-par 63 to throw down the gauntlet to his nearest challengers. They are Andrew Raitt, at nine under after a 67 on Friday, and the first-round leader David Lynn, his fellow Englishman Miles Tunnicliff and the Swede Per Nyman, all on seven under. Ryder Cup hopefuls Ian Poulter and Paul McGinley shot 67 and 69 respectively to lie a stroke further back along with the Spaniard Miguel Angel Martin.

Green, who has had back-to-back second places this year in the French and Smurfit European Opens, is the man they all have to catch. "It's a bit easier to do it on a par 70 course than a 73," Green joked after falling one short short of equalling the lowest opening 36-hole total for this event. "I just stuck to my game plan and fortunately I got a couple of shots close to the pin and picked up a couple of strokes."

Poulter, who had five birdies and two bogeys yesterday, was particularly confident about his game . "I had two stupid bogeys on the front nine but so be it," said the 28-year-old Englishman, who is eighth in the European Ryder Cup points table.

Klm Dutch Open (Hilversum) Leading early second round scores: 128 R Green (Aus) 65 63; 131 A Raitt (GB) 64 67; 133 D Lynn (GB) 63 70, P Nyman (Swe) 66 67, M Tunnicliff (GB) 67 66; 134 M A Martin (Sp) 68 66,

P McGinley (Irl) 65 69, I Poulter (GB) 67 67; 135 G Brand Jr (GB) 68 67.

* The British Open champion, Karen Stupples, made seven birdies in a six-under-par 65 for a one-stroke lead in the opening round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on Thursday, hours after a 13-hour flight from London. Stupples said she "floated around the course" after arriving in the Toledo area on Wednesday evening.

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