Karlsson steals limelight

Youngster upstages famous namesake on day one at Nordea

Last Updated: 24/07/11 4:59pm

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Robert Karlsson: the amateur version is tied at the top

Robert Karlsson: the amateur version is tied at the top

Sky Bet

It was no surprise to see the name Robert Karlsson on top of the Nordea Masters leaderboard at the end of Thursday's first round.

First round leaderboard
(GB & Ire unless stated)
-5 R Karlsson (Swe)
-5 A Noren (Swe)
-5 J van Zyl (SA)
-4 J Parry
-4 N Lemke (Swe)
-4 A Garcia-Heredia (Spa)
-4L Gagli (Ita)
For collated scores, click here

But it was certainly a surprise that this Robert Karlsson was the 22-year-old Stockholm amateur rather than the seasoned Swedish Ryder Cup player.

While the 41-year-old, internationally-known, Karlsson finished in contention in an eight-way tie for eighth at three-under 69, his little-known amateur namesake, who only secured entry into the tournament at the start of the week, occupied centre stage after shooting a five-under 67 to finish round one in a three-way tie for the lead.

"Ever since I qualified on Monday, I've been trying to really enjoy this experience. It's hard not to smile."
Karlsson on opening round Quotes of the week

Karlsson, the amateur, was tied for first with fellow Swede Alex Noren and South African European Tour rookie Jaco van Zyl.

Open runner-up Dustin Johnson was the pre-tournament favourite but is six shots back after a one-over par round of 73 while his fellow American Bubba Watson shot a 71.

Birdies

The amateur Karlsson came out at the Bro Hof Slott golf course on Thursday morning and promptly reeled off birdies at four of his first eight holes.

He then birdied another two by the 15th to top the leaderboard at 6-under with three holes to go.

It wasn't all plain sailing, though.

He dropped two shots with a double bogey at 17, but to his credit, he kept his cool and got one back with his seventh birdie at the 18th.

Noren, one of the pre-tournament favourites and a previous Tour winner, had earlier shot eight birdies, but had lost three shots via a bogey and double bogey.

Van Zyl, who has come onto the European Tour this year via the Tour's tough Q-School, was the most consistent of the three leaders, shooting three birdies on each nine against just one bogey.

"That was a great start to the tournament, obviously," said Karlsson, the younger, playing in only his second European Tour event.

"Ever since I qualified on Monday, I've been trying to really enjoy this experience. It's hard not to smile."

Van Zyl, who picked up a second in Morocco earlier this year, said: "It was good. Really tough conditions, very good golf course."

Noren, who birdied five of his first six holes after starting at the 10th, had a slight slump after the turn, but then had a run of three birdies over the closing stretch.

"It was great, the first few holes were unbelievable," said Noren, who won his second European Tour title in Wales earlier this year.

"It felt so much easier than it has ever felt, then it got really tough on the front nine.

"I was really nervous going into today - in front of all your family and friends and they want to see if you can play or if you're out there because you're lucky. But it turned out to be great fun. It's a great start and in this weather it was pretty tough."

Another Swede, Niklas Lemke, was joined by England's John Parry, Italian Lorenzo Gagli and Spaniard Alfredo Garcia-Heredia on four under.

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