The European Tour is in Sweden this week for the Nordea Masters at PGA Sweden National in Malmo. Experienced Thai player Thongchai Jaidee is the defending champion.
After a brutal Irish Open at Royal County Down last week, the players will be looking for respite at the Kyle Phillips-designed PGA Sweden National course. They should find it too. Jaidee won here last year with a score of 16-under-par. The weather for the week looks fine and, although a little breezy, there will be nothing like the gale-force conditions the European Tour’s best faced in Northern Ireland.
There’s a pretty strong field in this event, battling for a prize fund of €1,500,000. A number of the top Swedish and Scandinavian players will be keen to put on a good showing. Henrik Stenson will start, so too Robert Karlsson, Alex Noren and Jonas Blixt.
Four things to watch for at the Nordea Masters:
1 – Henrik Stenson will start the week as favourite. The World Number four hasn’t displayed stellar form recently, although he did make a fine start to 2015 with at tied fourth place in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, then fourth in the Valspar Championship and second in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Stenson will be looking to recapture that sort of form and secure a first victory in this event. He’s stated it’s one he’s desperately keen to add to his résumé.
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2 – Thongchai Jaidee will come into this tournament with high hopes of defending his title. Last season he came through a playoff against Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and Victor Dubuisson of France to claim his sixth European Tour title. Now 45 years old, Jaidee is another player who seems to be improving with age. His recent form has been superb and he’s currently sixth on the Race to Dubai. He finished tied second in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and then battled hard to a tied-10th place at Royal County Down last week. Expect him to mount a very stern defense.
3 – American players in the field this week include: David Lipsky, the 26-year-old who won last season’s Omega European Masters; Peter Uihlein, who recorded back-to-back top-10 finishes in China during April; Daniel Woltman, who made it on to the 2015 European Tour through Q-school and John Hahn, who has shown promise in recent Challenge Tour events. He was tied fourth in last week’s D+D Real Czech Challenge.
4 – The roll call of past champions makes for impressive reading. This will be the 25th anniversary of the event that was first contested on the European Tour back in 1991. At that time the competition was known as the Scandinavian Masters and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie was the inaugural winner. Since then, Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Jesper Parnevik and Luke Donald have all been victorious.