The Nordea Scandinavian Masters is staged for the 20th time this week but at an unfamiliar venue, the Bro Hof Slott Golf Club just outside Stockholm.
The par-72 track, which is being used for the first time on Tour, weaves its way alongside a fjord and measures 7,365-yards. That’s not overly long by modern standards and when trying to work out which players will be suited, it may pay to heed the words of the architect Robert Trent Jones Jr: “"placement is more important than length, position more important than distance”.
With an island green par-3 17th (a la Sawgrass) it promises to be a stunner and the field isn't too shabby either. They are headed by local hero and general 12/1 favourite Robert Karlsson, closely followed by PGA Tour regulars Dustin Johnson (18/1 Paddy Power) and Rickie Fowler (20/1 Blue Square). Last week’s Open Louis Oosthuizen is also teeing up having accepted a sponsor’s exemption and he is 28/1 (bet365) to claim his third European Tour victory of the season.
My Three Off The Tee:-
Robert Karlsson @ 13/1 Stan James (enhanced win only)
With no course form to go on, we're relying more heavily on good recent form this week and the Swede is on a good run right now. Beaten in a play-off for the St Jude Classic last month, he’s since shown up well in two majors – 27th at the US Open and 14th at St Andrews – and can count on a couple of near misses in this event in 2003 and 2006, albeit on different tracks. Having excelled at other Robert Trent Jr venues in the past – like Celtic Manor - I see no reason why he shouldn’t go well again this week and he’s a worthy favourite in my book. I’ll be surprised if we don’t get the chance to trade out to ensure a profit.
Rory Sabbatini @ 33/1 Ladbrokes
Both Johnson and Fowler should make their presence felt but I fancy another PGA Tour regular to go well at bigger odds. Unlike them, the South African didn't play in our Open due to not qualifying but must have fancied his chances of doing so as he came over for the Scottish Open. He would have had to win or finish second at Loch Lomond I think to play St Andrews but 8th place was still a decent effort and he's also been in fair form in the States recently, finishing 12th at The Memorial Tournament. Fresh from a week off, he could easily outrun his odds.
Peter Hedblom @ 60/1 bet365
Needless to say, the Scandinavians will be trying hard to win this week and they have a good recent record with five of the past 15 renewals going to players from the Nordic regions. The final pick might not be the most consistent amongst them but he does tend play well in snatches and is coming off a season-best fourth placed finish in the Scottish Open, where he had a chance to win going into Sunday. He's also got a decent record in this event with three top-10s and a tie for second in 2007, all of which makes the 60/1 (33/1 in a place) too big to resist.
Nearly made it in: Raphael Jacquelin (33/1 Stan James)
The Frenchman is due a win having finished third at Loch Lomond, 18th in Paris and runner-up in the Saint-Omer Open in recent weeks, and has previous in this event too with a tied-8th in 2008 and tied fifth in 2006.
One to be wary of: Robert Rock
The Lichfield swinger has been in grand form of late but his accuracy off the tee leaves a lot to be desired (just 56.55 fairways hit) and that could be problematic this week.
Robert Karlsson 2.5pts @ 13/1 Stan James
Rory Sabbatini 1pt each-way @ 33/1 Ladbrokes
Peter Hedblom 1pt each-way 60/1 bet365