Bennett Takes Halfway Lead in Sweden


STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Warren Bennett moved into the lead after carding a 1-under 70 in Friday's second round of the Scandinavian Masters. The 30-year-old Englishman's 36-hole total of 6-under-par 136 left him one stroke in front of five players heading into the weekend.
Sweden's Fredrik Andersson fired a 5-under 66 -- the best round on a difficult day for scoring at Kungsngen Golf Club -- to earn a share of second place at 5-under par. He finished alongside South African Trevor Immelman (67), fellow Swede Carl Pettersson (69), Ignacio Garrido (70) of Spain and first-round leader Graeme McDowell.
McDowell, a rookie from Northern Ireland, opened with a 7-under-par 64 Thursday to set the course record at Kungsngen. He posted two birdies and a bogey through five holes Friday to climb to 8-under, but a trio of bogeys from the seventh through the 13th led to a 2-over 73 in round two.
The 23-year-old McDowell was honored with the Fred Haskins Collegiate Player of the Year Award on Saturday after a stellar career at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He turned professional in June and is making his fourth start on the European Tour.
Niclas Fasth, the top-ranked Swede in the world and the runner-up to David Duval in the 2001 British Open, shot an even-par 71. He joined the pack at 4-under 138 that included American Jeff Sluman, winner of the PGA Championship in 1988.
In the hunt for his fourth Scandinavian Masters title is defending champion Colin Montgomerie. He began the day four strokes off the lead after a first-round 70 but needed only a 1-under 69 Friday to pull within three shots of the top spot.
'Rounds of 70, 69 is not very good, but I'm in the top-15 and poised to challenge,' said the 39-year-old Scot. 'A good round tomorrow will give me a chance of winning this. I haven't won for a year and I need to win.'
In 1991, Montgomerie reeled in the second victory of his career at the inaugural Scandinavian Masters at Drottningholm Golf Club. He produced three top-10s in the event over the next seven years, then won two of the last three editions (1999 and 2001) at Barsebck Golf & Country Club.
Bennett, a seven-time winner on the European Challenge Tour, survived a playoff with Dutchman Rolf Muntz to capture his first European Tour triumph at the 1999 Scottish PGA Championship. He has struggled with injuries throughout his career, however, and this year has yet to finish in the top-10 in 19 starts.
'It's great to be in contention again, the same old juices get flowing,' Bennett said.
Bennett can chalk his lead up to a lucky break at the 297-yard 15th. Tempted to drive the green at the short par-four, Bennett knocked his tee shot way off line and toward trouble, but his ball struck a tree and dropped down 30 yards short of the putting surface. He pitched his second to within three and sank the putt for birdie.
'That was my get out of jail free card,' he said. 'It was heading for the jungle -- you'd rather be in the water than in there.'
The cut came down at 3-over-par 145 and included 79 players.