Quality not quantity the key for Woosnam

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The Independent Online

Ian Woosnam was not going to make the mistake of practising after his round again last night. "I was on the range for 45 minutes on Thursday evening and woke up stiff this morning," said the Welshman. "Tonight I'm just going for a couple of pints. If I don't know how to swing a club by now I never will."

Woosnam produced a 66 in the second round of the Smurfit European Open and at nine under par was three behind the halfway leader Mikael Lundberg and sharing second place with Norway's Henrik Bjornstad. He chipped in at the second hole for the first of four birdies in a row on the way to the turn in 30 and then birdied the seventh coming home.

At the age of 43 there are other things that the former Masters champion would like to be doing. "I could be fishing, or down in Australia watching the Lions."

A reduction in his schedule, taking out the long-distance travel other than to America for tournaments such as the Masters, is a definite possibility in the near future. "I still enjoy it when I get the results but not as much as I did. For all these young kids, it is work now. It is not as much fun. I do find playing golf week after week quite boring."

Woosnam will meet Lundberg, the 28-year-old from Helsingborg, for the first time today but acknowledged the quality of the Swede's round of 65, which included four birdies in the last four holes. Darren Clarke eagled the last for his second successive bogey-free 68 to be at eight under, while Padraig Harrington was among those a shot further back.

If there is one thing holding back Harrington from winning more it is practising too much, apparently. It is a novel theory but the Irishman is hanging on to the dream that one day he will need no more than half an hour on the range each day. Harrington is one of the most improved players over the last two years and also one of the hardest working, which makes Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie unlikely role models.

"No wonder Monty has won all those tournaments because he doesn't practise," Harrington said. "He can play week in, week out and he is fresh. Somebody who practises a lot finds that difficult because they are always tiring themselves out.

"One of the reasons I do all this work now is that I have this image in my head that one day I won't have to practise too much. The whole goal is to have a low maintenance swing. That's my utopia. It is probably an elusive goal but I'd like to have a swing that, when it breaks down I know what is wrong and can fix it quickly. A low maintenance swing, that sounds good."

Harrington, 29, has won three times on tour, with countless second places. Montgomerie earned his 25th European title at the Irish Open last week. Harrington closed with a 64 on Sunday at Fota Island to claim a share of second place.

His rounds of 70 and 67 here suggest a continuation of that good form. Not so. "I have to say the form hasn't continued," Harrington contested. "I didn't hit the ball well on the front nine on Sunday, nor did I play well on Monday and I was heading in the wrong direction. It needed to be worked on and I spent seven hours on the practice range on Tuesday.

"Having done that it is difficult not to be thinking about what you are doing on each shot. On the one hand you are training yourself to think and next you are trying not to think. Not thinking only works in the short term, like the last nine holes at Fota. Last week I was trying to control what I was doing with my swing but it was only making it worse, so as a last resort it became 'just hit it and find it and keep going'."

But more than anything, what Harrington is thinking about this week – apart that is from his trip to the Robbie Williams concert in Dublin last night – is the prize from jewellers Appleby for the player who finishes most under par on the par-fives this week.

Not for himself, you understand. "I am under instructions from my wife to be 14 under and I am six under so far. I'll be going hard for it as there is a big diamond on offer."

EUROPEAN OPEN (Co Kildare) Leading early second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 132 M Lundberg (Swe) 67 65. 135 I Woosnam 69 66. 136 D Clarke 68 68. 137 P Harrington 70 67; M Campbell (NZ) 67 70; P Casey 69 68. 138 M Gronberg (Swe) 68 70. 139 M Lafeber (Neth) 67 72; R Goosen (SA) 69 70; R Gonzalez (Arg) 69 70; G Owen 70 69. 140 R Green (Aus) 70 70; T Levet (Fr) 72 68; S Leaney (Aus) 71 69; S Hansen (Den) 71 69. 141 B Langer (Ger) 71 70. 142 P Price 70 72; D Robertson 70 72; A Hansen (Den) 74 68; T Immelman (SA) 74 68. 143 A Coltart 72 71; A Cejka (Ger) 72 71; S Gallacher 74 69; W Bennett 70 73. 144 P Lonard (Aus) 73 71; S Gardiner (Aus) 74 70; D Gilford 75 69; E Darcy 75 69; N Fasth (Swe) 69 75; J Haeggman (Swe) 72 72; M Roe 72 72; S Scahill (NZ) 71 73; A McLean 73 71; G Havret (Fr) 76 68.