Henrik Stenson is a nine-times winner on the European Tour but never in Sweden. The world number four could put that right this week by winning the Nordea Masters at PGA National Sweden against a field lacking in depth beyond the first few players in the betting. This event has been won by Scandinavian players five times in the last five years and Alex Noren can contend and even enhance that record.
This week’s event was known as the Scandinavian Masters since it was founded in 1991 up until 2010 when Nordea became the title sponsor. The event’s name was then shortened but it is still the most prestigious European tournament of the year played in Scandinavia. Five winners since 2008 were born in either Finland or Sweden including Mikko Ilonen who is the most recent multiple champion.
Several prestigious courses in Sweden have staged the event but it moved to the PGA National course in Malmo last year. At 7390 yards the course is average in length by modern standards. It has the conventional two nines with a par of 36 made up of the usual quota of short and long holes and ten par 4s. Two of the par 5s are over 600 yards in length and are genuine three shot tests.
PGA Sweden National
With only one year’s results to look at there is a limited amount of course form to assess. Scoring last year suggests the key skills will be driving distance, greens in regulation and putts per round. This is the classic combination of attributes and places similar demands on the players as some of the best courses in the world. The idea to create a flagship course in Sweden was first discussed in 1996 and it took 13 years to reach fruition. The country now has a facility with the high standards of the great courses in other parts of the world.
The complex has two courses with the Links layout built to championship standard. It is a classic 18 holes with links features such as undulating greens and pot bunkers. The greens and surrounding sand dunes give the course a Scottish seaside layout feel. Water comes into play on seven of the 18 holes which feature just one tree behind the first green which is one more than us usually found on a links course. Stenson is one of just three players in the top 20 for driving distance and greens hit alongside Alvaro Quiros and Nicolas Colsaerts.
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The latter has experienced a dip in form after trying his hand on the US PGA Tour following a good Ryder Cup in 2012. At his best Colsaerts would be a leading contender but the last of his two main Tour wins was three years ago and he is not showing any signs of winning again. Quiros is a six-times Tour winner but his most recent victory was in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2011. A more viable alternative to Stenson and Noren is Eddie Pepperell who combines solid course and current form.
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