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Karlsson up 4 shots on Jimenez in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — Sweden's Robert Karlsson blasted his second straight six-under-par 64 at the Hong Kong Open for a four-stroke lead over an elite field on Friday.

Karlsson, who finished runner-up in Portugal last month, repeated his opening round performance, enjoying a bogey free second round with six birdies on the way to a two-day total of 12-under-par 128 at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a 67 for the lone second spot while Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, a two-time Asian No. 1, posted a similar score alongside Bryan Saltus from the U.S., who jumped to tied third place after a 65, five strokes off the pace.

Canadian star Mike Weir also rose up to joint third position after a 64 in the US$2.25 million (1.54 million) event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

"It is great to be in this position and I have played really well over the first two days. I have understood exactly what I need to do to have a good score around this golf course and then it is up to me to do it. So far I have done well. I used my driver only once today, at the sixth hole,'' Karlsson said.

The 38-year-old leader was three under after nine holes and then shot to the top spot when he sunk three more birdies on the back nine that included a birdie on the final par-four 18th hole.

After dropping a shot on the sixth hole, former 2004 winner Jimenez bounced back on the way home when he fired four birdies.

"I always enjoy this golf course, it is a great old fashioned golf course where you have to be safe from the tee to allow you to have a chance for the green. You have to concentrate hard here and I like it,'' he said.

Thailand's Thongchai, with eight wins on the Asian Tour, shot a round of 67 that included four birdies against a lone bogey.

"The greens are really tricky but I'm enjoying myself out there. My plan is the same every day. The par-threes here are very tricky and the fifth, eighth and ninth holes are really tough. But I'm happy as I birdied the ninth, which I think is one of the toughest holes here,'' he said.

With six birdies against one dropped shot, Saltus, competing in his fourth year on the Asian Tour, said he enjoyed playing on his favorite course in Asia.

"This is an old golf course. I like old courses. You don't just smoke drivers on every hole, that gets boring. Here, you have to ply your way around, move the ball left to right, back and fourth, high and low and set it up.''

China's top golfer Liang Wen-chong improved with a 66 in tied 12th place alongside overnight leader K.J. Choi who slipped with a 72.

South African Retief Goosen shot a 66 in joint 20th place while England's Nick Faldo was on the mark after a 71 in tied 63rd place.

Defending champion Jose Manuel Lara carded a similar score but missed the cut after a 140 total in joint 74th position.

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