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Fasth Back on Top in Madeira

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Defending champion Niclas Fasth of Sweden fired a bogey-free round of 9-under 63 to move atop the leaderboard after Friday's second round of the Madeira Island Open. Fasth, whose two-day total of 12-under-par 132 set a new 36-hole record for this event, leads England's John Bickerton by two strokes.
 
Fasth collected four birdies on the front nine, including three in a row from the sixth through the eighth, to make the turn in 32. He knocked a 9-iron from 130 yards out to six feet for the first of three straight birdies from the 10th, then rolled in a 20-footer at 14 for his eighth birdie of the day.
 
The 28-year-old Swede used an 8-iron at the par-3 17th to set up a three-foot putt for his final birdie.
 
'You can make birdies on this course,' said Fasth, who recorded his maiden victory in this event a year ago. 'Certainly not guaranteed to make nine but you can make some.'
 
Fasth managed to equal his career-low round despite what he felt was a shaky start at Santo da Serra Golf Club.
 
'I missed from about three [feet] on the first and missed the green on the second,' he said. 'But from the third onwards I made very few mistakes and got away with it. Once or twice when I did make mistakes I still saved a par.'
 
Bickerton, who was forced to withdraw from last week's Qatar Masters because of a case of gastroenteritis, felt well enough Friday to put together a five-birdie, no-bogey 67 to get to 10-under par.
 
Fellow Swede Henrik Stenson shot 66 to grab a share of third place at 8-under 136 with Gary Emerson, Markus Brier, Massimo Florioli, Jose Manuel Lara, Andrew Oldcorn and first-round co-leader Des Smyth.
 
Five-time major winner Seve Ballesteros posted a 4-under 68 to survive his first cut since September. He finished two rounds tied at 5-under with nine players, including Malcolm Mackenzie, who began the day tied for the lead with Smyth. Mackenzie had a 1-over 73.
 
A total of 80 players made the cut, which fell at even-par 144.
 
Click here for full-field scores from the Madeira Island Open

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