TROON, Scotland – If any player in the field can haul Phil Mickelson off the leaderboard in inclement weather conditions at the 145th British Open, Soren Kjeldsen is the man.
The diminutive Dane revels in wind and rain. He proved it last year by winning the Irish Open in foul weather.
“These conditions are what I grew up in,” Kjeldsen said. “I’m certainly used to playing in bad weather. I like this kind of golf. I like the battling mentality that you need. I do thrive in this.”
He thrived in the second round of the British Open. The four-time European Tour winner returned a 3-under 68 to get to 7 under and into contention, just three shots off Mickelson’s lead.
Don’t expect Kjeldsen to go away. He’ll be like a little highland terrier trying to become the first Scandinavian male to win a major.
He might be 41 and 5 feet 7 inches and hit it only 280 yards off the tee, but he’s not fazed by the world’s best.
Remember, he finished T-7 in this year’s Masters.
Kjeldsen has reached heights perhaps only he dreamed possible when he turned pro in 1995. “Probably some people feel that I’ve overachieved,” he said.
Kjeldsen might be the deepest thinker on the European Tour. This is a man who writes down his thoughts after every round.
“You play, you analyze and then you adjust. I do that every day,” Kjeldsen said. “I write everything down. I’m a little bit of a geek. I’ve got statistics from every round I’ve played since I was 11 years old.”
It has helped him to the verge of winning the biggest tournament in golf. He believes that he belongs among a herd of strapping 6-footers.
“We all have limitations,” Kjeldsen said. “The whole thing is about pushing, trying to see how good you can get and nobody’s going to stop me. Doesn’t matter if I’m playing guys 6 feet 4 inches that hit it 350. They’re not going to touch my little Srixon ball. That ball and me? It’s between the two of us.”
In a world of jocks who often simply grunt, “It is what it is,” Kjeldsen is almost Zen-like. He certainly sounded like some sort of guru after his 68. Here are some snippets:
- “When I have my mind in the right place, I can do whatever I want.”
- “The right place is a quite relaxed state of mind. It’s a state of mind where you’ve got enormous acceptance.”
- “Basically a good state of mind is where everything teaches you something.”
- “If you can learn from everything, that’s when you’re in a good place.”
The erudite Dane is in a good place at Royal Troon. The Zen master is on the leaderboard, with a chance of making history.