From Wentworth in England, the European Tour heads to southern Sweden for this week’s Nordea Masters.
First played in 1991, the tournament has a storied list of winners, with Colin Montgomerie’s name engraved on the trophy on three occasions.
For the first time since 2009, the event takes place at Barseback, a coastal track that is famous for attracting huge crowds.
This is the 10th visit to Barseback, the previous list of winners there reading: Nick Faldo (1992), Jesper Parnevik (1995), Joakim Haeggman, Monty (1999 and 2001), Adam Scott (2003), Luke Donald (2004), Marc Warren (2006) and Ricardo Gonzalez (2009).
It also staged the 2003 Solheim Cup, with Europe thrashing the USA 17.5-10.5.
Last 3 winners at Barseback, Winning Scores and Stats
2009 -10 Ricardo Gonzalez (DD: 10, DA: 63, GIR: 25, Scr: 15, PA: 1, AA: 8)
2006 -10 Marc Warren (DD: 44, DA: 70, GIR: 56, Scr: 1, PA: 4, AA: 31)
2004 -16 Luke Donald (DD: 44, DA: 39, GIR: 3, Scr: 4, PA: 18, AA: 6)
Notes: How relevant these are remains to be seen. It seems that Driving Accuracy was unimportant while the Scrambling and Putting Average stats suggests short game could be the key.
The Masters Course at Barseback Golf & Country Club was designed by Ture Bruce and opened in 1969. It’s a par 73 with the standard four par 5s but just a single par 3 on the back nine. The official website says: “The course is a delightful mix of wooded holes ringed with wind sculpted pines, open fairway holes and beautiful links holes overlooking Öresund. All with fantastic Penn A4 greens.” The course record is held by Lee Slattery, a six-under 67 in 2009.
Luke Donald won with 16-under in 2004 and the good weather forecast suggests that could be challenged. After a sunny opening two days, there may be a spot of rain on the weekend but temperatures are pleasant enough in the mid-to-early 60s and the winds are forecast to be modest/gentle on all four tournament days.
The Leading Contenders
After becoming the first Swedish male to win the Open Championship, Stenson will hope the power of the claret jug will help him land this event for the first time. Five Swedes have won it but not Stenson. However, this is his home club and his Swedish summerhouse is located close to the course so he’ll be sleeping in his own bed. He’s a two-time runner-up in this event (one of those came at Barseback in 2004) while his last three appearances in the event show 4-13-5 so the theme for Stenson in his home event is close but no cigar. He wasn’t happy with his long game at Wentworth but to finish T3 on a course he doesn’t really care for suggests he’s be a big contender this week.
Stenson may have the major but his countryman Noren is hoovering up regular European Tour events at quite a rate. A brilliant closing 62 allowed him to come from seven behind and win the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday and claim a fifth Euro Tour win since July of last year. Oh, he just happens to have won this event in two of the last six seasons too and by a combined winning margin of 11 shots. The only negative you’ll find is poor form at Barseback (MC-52-MC) but those results came back in 2003, 2006 and 2009.
Westwood nudged up a spot on the Race to Dubai to 23rd after T14 at Wentworth but it looked set to be a much better week than that after he’d opened 70-69. Rounds of 72-73 on the weekend represented treading water and plenty rushed by him. The Englishman should have a strut in his step in Sweden though as he absolutely loves it there. He has his name on this trophy three times (1996, 2000 and 2012) and that’s from just seven starts. Westwood added T8 last year although this is his first look at Barseback. Given its mix of holes, it’s a course that should suit his ability to play well in various conditions.
Between mid-April and July last year, Fitzpatrick endured seven missed cuts, T47 and T49 in 10 starts. The missing result in that run? A victory in this very tournament. That was at Bro Hof Slott where he hit more greens than anyone, was also 1st in Scrambling and cruised to a three-shot win over Denmark’s Lasse Jensen. The English youngster now defends at a different venue but arrives in much better form after a closing 67 gave him T12 at Wentworth.
The Frenchman has eyes on a home-soil appearance at the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris and is certainly being fuelled by that goal. The evidence? Adding to a fourth place in Malaysia and T8 at the Shenzhen International with a four-shot win in last month’s China Open (his fourth European Tour win). He’s making his course debut but his last start in this event produced T3 at PGA Sweden National (also T25 there the year before). That came soon after T51 at Wentworth, the exact same position he occupied on Sunday.
Wood could never get it out of third gear at Wentworth and his title defense resulted in a modest T49 after three 72s and a 74. With that out of the way, he’ll hope he can fly under the radar a little bit more and do well here. He’s had three cracks at this tournament and the first two produced top 25s, T18 at Arlandastad in 2008 and T22 at Bro Hof Slott in 2012.
A closing 69 for T24 at Wentworth on Sunday means the Spaniard has connected four top 25s since returning from a break. That started with T13 in Morocco before T11 at the Shenzhen and solo third in the Volvo China Open. He’s cashed five times in seven starts on Swedish soil and that sequence started with T27 on his tournament debut at Barseback in 2009 where he was third at halfway and T7 going into Sunday so he’ll have some decent memories of that week.
It’s a fourth start for Sullivan at the Nordea Masters and he’ll want to reverse a trend which saw him start brightly and then struggle. His first visit to Sweden produced T14 in the 2012 event at Bro Hof Slott but he was only T49 there the year after and missed the cut at PGA Sweden National on his last start in the tournament in 2014. He’s not been at his very best this season but T30 (Wentworth) and T15 (Houston Open) in two of his last three starts could lure gamers in this week.
Luiten has played this event just three times but he’s shot 70 or lower in five of his last six laps. Four of those combined for T11 at Bro Hof Slott in 2013. The Dutchman gets full marks for consistency of late after finishing no worse than T31 in his last 11 worldwide strokeplay events. However, he hasn’t been able to land a fantasy-friendly big cheque in that stretch, his best result T13. It means you have to go back to his home win at the KLM Open last September to find Luiten’s last top 10.
It’s always a gamble playing the unpredictable Frenchman as he’s withdrawn from two of his last four events. Nevertheless, the upside is appealing as in the other two he took T4 in Morocco and on Sunday he finished off a decent week to take T24 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. To lure managers in further, Dubuisson has form in this event of 2-13-24. The second place came on his most recent visit in 2014 when losing a play-off at PGA Sweden National.
The Next Rung
Amidst three cuts and a T52 in this event, there is one very obvious exception when looking at Jaidee’s results in the Nordea Masters – a play-off victory over Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher in the 2014 edition at PGA Sweden National. One of his MCs came at Barseback (76-71) but that was way back in 2009. He’s had to settle for T54 (Wentworth) and T48 (China Open) in his last two starts but before that the Thai made the top 10 at the Shenzhen.
A hot start at Wentworth suggested he could be a big factor at the BMW PGA but he couldn’t keep it going and settled for T14. His form is strong though and that was a fourth top 25 in his last five worldwide starts. The Thai has appeared in just two Nordea Masters, taking T30 on debut at Bro Hof Slott in 2013 and missing the cut at PGA Sweden National in 2015.
With the course located in Southern Sweden, it’s a very short hop to Denmark so Olesen will have plenty of his countrymen coming out in support. Ignore last week’s missed cut at Wentworth (he’s now missed six of the last seven there) and give credence to his fourth place the last time this event was played at Barseback in 2009. He also won a Challenge Tour event in Sweden the following year and will still have some good vibes from winning the GolfSixes in England alongside Lucas Bjerregaard earlier this month and posting a solid top 10 in the Shenzhen International in April.
The big-hitting Belgian was the biggest mover on the Race to Dubai last week, leaping 111 spots to T34 after posting T3 in the BMW PGA Championship. He’d warned us that a big result wasn’t far away and that could easily continue here. Colsaerts has found some of his best form over the last few years on Swedish soil and his last three starts show 11-7-3. He also knows Barseback well and is 3-for-4 there with a best of T24 in 2006.
The rookie continues to make cut after cut and 72-71-72-74 for T40 at Wentworth was a decent effort on a tough track. His six top 25s this season include a third and a sixth (he’s 36th on the Race to Dubai) while a strong all-round game sees him 29th in Stroke Average. The English youngster is playing his first Nordea Masters this week but did once tee it up in a Challenge Tour event in Sweden, finishing T21.
Zanotti played all four rounds at Barseback in 2009 despite finishing well down the field and was T7 in this event at PGA Sweden National in 2015. Overall, he’s 7-for-8 at the Nordea. A winner at February’s Maybank Championship in Malaysia, he followed it up with T12 in the WGC event in Mexico and added a top five at the Shenzhen in China. Very latest form shows missed cuts at the Byron Nelson and Wentworth so he’s cooled a little.
Hanson will hope to show the home challenge doesn’t just centre around Stenson and Noren this week. The former Ryder Cup star showed his skills with T21 at Wentworth on Sunday and also posted T8 and T18 on the Desert Swing earlier this season. In his native Sweden, he won this event at Arlandastad in 2008, has a third (2012) and two other top 25s in his last five appearances and, notably, was runner-up at Barseback in 2004. Also T9 in 2001, he’s 5-for-6 at this week’s venue.
It didn’t work out for Coetzee at Wentworth (it never really has; no top 20s in six starts) but prior to that MC in the BMW PGA he’d pieced together three top 8s and a T11 in four worldwide starts (two in China, one in India and one in, yes, Swaziland). In fact, seven of his last 10 outings have resulted in a top 15 so a win might not be far away. The South African’s one and only appearance in Sweden came back in 2010 but it did produce T24.
Another Swede to take note of, and that was before his impressive T14 at Wentworth. That got him back into the top 50 on the Race to Dubai and represented a sixth top 20 of the season. The 26-year-old made his debut in this event at Bro Hof Slott last year and opened with a pair of 68s to lie second at halfway before slipping back to T30. Bjork also shot a 62 in a Challenge Tour event in Sweden when T9 so he can certainly shine in front of his home supporters.
The 21-year-old from China continues to impress and his last three results show T11 in his home China Open, third place in the Rocco Forte Open in Italy two weeks ago and a decent T30 in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday. Also fifth at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia, he’s already played well on a variety of courses to suggest he can do well on his Nordea Masters debut.
It wasn’t quite in Alex Noren’s league but a closing five-under 67 from Van Zyl at Wentworth was an excellent effort and put him in the top 15. That followed T24 in the Volvo China Open so he looks back on track after a real wobble since he finished runner-up in January’s Qatar Masters. The South African delivered T13 on his Nordea Masters debut at Bro Hof Slott in 2011 but has yet to play Barseback.
Swedes are going to feature heavily in this Sleepers section so let’s start with Robert Karlsson who is a real course horse with three top fives at Barseback. Admittedly, they were in 2006, 2003 and 1999. He’s missed six of his last seven European Tour cuts but did flicker back into life when T11 in Italy a fortnight ago.
The course record holder with a 67 in round one in 2009 helped him finish T4 at Barseback that year and it’s not his only good finish in the event (also T7 in 2015). Missed three of last four cuts on the European Tour but did take T11 in Italy two weeks ago.
All the Danes will get good support given the location and Bjerregaard, who won the GolfSixes alongside Thorborn Olesen, is 4-for-4 in this event, including T20 last year. Supporters may want to overlook his Friday 82 at Wentworth.
The Italian jumped 66 spots on the Race to Dubai to 87th after a top 15 at Wentworth ended a run of four missed cuts. He also shot 64 in round two of the Rocco Forte Open the week before so something has clicked. A T12 in this event at Bro Hof Slott last year adds to his appeal.
You’ll find a second (2008) and a 10th (2012) on Edberg’s Nordea Masters CV while he was also T17 at Barseback in 2009. The local man has missed his last three cuts but T21 in Qatar and T27 in Morocco last month offer hope.
The Swedish veteran returns home having just posted his best finish since October. That it was only T54 doesn’t say much although his game didn’t look too far off at Wentworth. He doesn’t have his name on this trophy but was T30 last year and has an excellent record at Barseback with four top 20s in his last five starts there.
Europe’s Ryder Cup skipper played all four rounds at Wentworth (T57) and made the top 25 in Italy the week before so is still playing some decent golf. The Dane has finished outside the top 30 just once in his last six starts in this event and that includes T9 here at Barseback in 2001.
Still searching but the missed cuts have been punctuated by T22 in India and T38 in Italy last time when opening 67-67. Didn’t make the weekend in this event last year but was T6 on his Nordea Masters debut in 2014.
Who’s On The Team?
Check out Tuesday’s Playing The Tips feature for my full six-man line-up for the ET game.
One To Swerve
Thongchai Jaidee is a former winner of this event but the rest of his play in Sweden is poor and he’s struggled in recent weeks.