The Scandinavian Masters moves to a new venue this week and adopts a new sponsor to boot - the mightily impressive Bro Hoff Slott Golf Club to the West of Stockholm is the host and Nordea, a Nordic Financial Services company, are stumping up the sponsorship fees.
I describe the course as impressive on specification only, however the Robert Trent Jones Jr designed course will, I'm sure, blow everyone's socks off with its quality. Earmarked as the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup, this course hasn't spared any expense in the making and the results will be breathtaking to see this week. I won't describe all the features here as we'll never get to the tips, however if you're interested then there's full details of all the technologies that went into the making of this masterpiece here.
Built alongside a fjord and over 7,500 yards in length, the par 72 layout will prove a stern test for the shorter and more wayward players without any shadow of doubt. Water is in play everywhere from just off the fairway (think Pebble Beach); the rough is tough and penal, the fairways narrow. The 17th is a Sawgrass-style Island green and the 18th is a slight dogleg right with water all along the right hand side (think Doral in mirror image)....for me it's clear to see that the inspiration for this course has come from some of the finest courses on the PGA Tour - and with that will come a distinctly US style feel. The course is expected to play its full length despite recent dry weather and the greens are running true and reasonably fast at 11.5 on the stimp.
So, with no course form to go on we'll need to rely on specification to help us out. The 5 par 5s on the course will provide birdie/eagle opportunities to the longer and braver players, however the risk of finding water or thick rough on the tight fairways means that accuracy is also key. I've opted for these 2 variables in the predictor over everything else, plus good recent form, as my key ingredients.
There are a few lingering Americans in the field this week after the Open - Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler the most notable - and I suspect that they'll feel at home on this course, particularly the former, and both have the length to compete here after finishing well at St Andrews. Whether some of the other players close to contention over last weekend will compete (Karlsson, Hanson and of course Oosthuizen) is more doubtful in my opinion. In fact I'm amazed that Louis is actually playing!
So, adding all these factors into the mix I'm going to spend my 10 points accordingly:
The Pebble Beach demons won't be exorcised with a victory here, although a win would no doubt go some way to making DJ feel a whole lot better. The course will suit the South Carolina bomber down to the ground with its length and layout and his impressive finish top 15 at St Andrews bodes well provided he's got something left in the tank. A winner earlier this season at the AT&T at Pebble, plus a couple more top 10s other than the US Open, for me Dustin Johnson is head and shoulders above most of the field here. RESULT: T19
The son of a preacher man is still a maiden on Tour but will look at these kinds of events as a great opportunity to break that duck. A week of rest while Oosthuizen et al slogged it out in Scotland, if the number 1 predictor selection can pick up on some of the ball-striking form he found in France (308 yards and 78.6% of fairways) and Wentworth - he managed top 5 finishes in both - then he'll be a significant factor come Sunday afternoon. Willett is plenty long enough to compete here and, of late, is hitting the ball with a level of accuracy which will reap rewards sooner rather than later if he keeps it up. RESULT: M/C
If one of the locals is going to compete this week then I'd wager it will be Hedblom. The Swede is the kind of player who finds form seemingly from nowhere, competes for a week or 2, then drops back off the radar - last year we scored on him at Gleneagles in similar fashion at 80/1 after finishing a 'shock' runner up the week before...well here we have a similar trend developing. After struggling to find a top 50 finish in his previous 10 starts (including 5 missed cuts), Hedblom had a good chance to win at Loch Lomond going into Sunday before finally finishing in a tie for 4th place at an SP of 250/1. The bookies are a little wiser this week, however for a man who loves playing in Sweden (3 top 10s and a best of 2nd place in this event in 2007) this is still an attractive price to me. Fancy a longer price on Hedblom to win? At the time of writing he was trading at 74/1 on Betfair- click here to get started with a £25 free bet! RESULT: M/C
After last week's winners romping home at 250/1 (Oosthuizen) and 200/1 (Bettencourt) I'm going to pick a rank outsider as a speculative bet to finish off my 10 points. Gonnet has a good record in this event, albeit on different courses, with a T17 last year and T2 in 2007. The Frenchman has 4 top 25s to his name this season and was far from disgraced in France last time out with a solid T32 when he averaged 303 yards off the tee - he'll enjoy this tournament much more with 5 par 5s to get his teeth into and could run into a place if he keeps the ball in play off of the tee more often than not. RESULT: T34
All odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:45BST 20.7.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Check out our 'double your money' top 20 tips for this event here: Nordea Masters Double Your Money
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