Karlsson's dip in water fails to sink course record

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The Independent Online

For a few moments, Robert Karlsson thought he was minutes away from becoming the first player to shoot a 59 on the European Tour.

It did not quite happen, but setting a course record of 61 and equalling the lowest round of his 20-year Tour career was good enough for the Swede.

Karlsson leads the Italian Open by two shots from England's Mark Foster and South Africa's Hennie Otto. His round yesterday included a drive into water on the 13th hole, which was his fourth. But the 38-year-old had started with three birdies and he eagled the 15th and first with putts of 30 and 20 feet and when he birdied four of the next six holes he was 10 under for the day. That meant a birdie-eagle finish on the short eighth and 513-yard ninth would bring a 59.

"It did cross my mind, but I've had some problems on eight in the past – I was pretty happy with a three there," he said. A closing 10-foot birdie putt gave him a 15-under total which matches the third lowest in Tour history for 36 holes.

England's Oliver Wilson kept his hopes alive despite being unable to use his putter for nine holes. As he went to putt on the 10th green, Wilson noticed that the shaft of the club had bent. He presumed it had happened when he banged the putter against his bag coming off the ninth and had to switch to a wedge.

Wilson birdied the next three holes, making one putt from 20 feet, and finished with a 69 for nine under.

* The American Kenny Perry leads Sergio Garcia of Spain and Germany's Bernhard Langer by one shot after the second round of the Players Championship in Sawgrass, Florida. Langer, 50, hit a brilliant five-under-par 67 in strong winds.