Next stop Malmo, and The Lakes course at PGA Sweden National hosts the Nordea Masters for the second year running. Bro Hof Slott is a course that will be sorely missed on the calendar from a betting perspective as a lot of people had it sussed but The Lakes course provides a fabulous test of golf.
Peter Hanson - 176.0 - and designer Kyle Phillips (responsible for Kingsbarns) opened The Lakes course back in 2010 and It was Thongchai Jaidee - 21.00 - who reigned supreme at the inaugural Nordea Masters PGA Sweden National renewal. Jaidee won a three man playoff against Victor Dubuisson - 31.00 - and Stephen Gallacher - 34.00. The man all the focus will be on at the head of the betting is Henrik Stenson - 5.50 - who finished solo fifth last year.
There is a strong relationship between the Nordea Masters and Black Mountain in Thailand. The Black Mountain Golf Club has been the official exhibition partner of the Nordea Masters and it hosts the Black Mountain Invitational every year - a Nordic League event. Up and coming Swedish talent Bjorn Hellgren has won this tournament the last two years running and he's one of a number of Swedish pros that practice regularly at Black Mountain. Rikard Karlberg owns a home on the property.
The Course - The Lakes at PGA Sweden National
A Kyle Phillips design, playing 7,390 yards to a par of 72, The Lakes course is an exposed track built around a lake that features predominantly on holes 9, 17 and 18. There is a strong risk reward finish where scores can be made or broken. Fairways are generous but undulating and greens are small and tricky. Large penal bunkers are a strong feature throughout this layout. We will see some testing pin positions over the course of the week.
Three from the pack
Alexander Levy - 34.00 or 7.50 - would have been a perfect fit for Bro Hof Slott but arguably this week's venue may be similar. Levy recently won the US Open qualifying at a windy Walton Heath on a 36 hole total of -11. He went on to open with a 69 in Ireland but ultimately his swing came unstuck in high winds. That missed cut can be ignored though because of the weather and we're seeing a relatively decent price because of it.
Rafa Cabrera Bello - 34.00 or 7.50 - is the surprise of the week for me. I expected him to open closer to market leader Stenson's price after his performance in Ireland. Rafa bogeyed the par 5 18th to miss out on the playoff by a stroke. If you watched him you'd have seen (as he backed up) that his ball striking and tee to green game was on point. More of the same will be needed this week and a T9 here last year with an average score of 69 says the course fits.
Lucas Bjerregaard - 126.0 or 23.00 - also comes in at a big price. The Dane is rounding into some nice form of late with two top 20s in China. The big hitter qualified for the US Open with a -7 total at Walton Heath. Bjerregaard then shot a hugely impressive 66 in the 3rd round at Royal County Down to propel himself into contention. It didn't quite happen for him but he was very complimentary and positive on Twitter. He may also draw inspiration from fellow Dane Soren Kjeldsen's win.
Black Mountain resident Rikard Karlberg - 81.00 or 17.00 - opened with a 67 here last year and hit three rounds in the sixties. A 2nd round 75 was his undoing but he posted a T15 nonetheless . Karlberg got married earlier this year and his mind had been on other things but he seems to have regained focus. He carded an extremely impressive -2 to close out the Irish Open in terrible conditions. He also notched a top 10 in gale force wins in Denmark last year.
As mentioned Bjorn Hellgren - 501.0 or 81.00 - won the Black Mountain Invitational back to back in 2014/15 and he's been on the radar for a while. He has a friendly rivalry going with compatriot Seb soderberg and the two didn't quite make it at the final stage of Q school last year. Bjorn has an invite this week while Seb is also in the field. He's simmering currently with form of 3-4 on the Nordic League coming here. Arguably the venue in question share similarities with Black Mountain in terms of room from the tees and premium on approaches in the wind into smallish undulating greens. Hellgren has proved he is fond of a 67 around Black Mountain.