Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Scandinavian Mixed Tips 2022

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Never shy when it comes to testing out new formats in the game, the DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET) took a step into the unknown 12 months ago with the ‘Scandinavian Mixed’. Such was the response to the event that we’re back for more this year with an increased $2m prize fund and Volvo as the title sponsors.

As per last year, Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam host the event and as Major champions in their own right they’ve managed to assemble a reasonable cast to play in their homeland, with Alex Noren the star name from the men’s side in attendance. The leading 3 women in the LET’s ‘Race to Costa Del Sol’ are all Swedes and also all here to compete on home soil, namely Maja Stark, Johanna Gustavsson and Linn Grant, and each will undoubtedly see this as a big opportunity in terms of ranking points as well as the prize fund given that the prizes are quite rightly the same for men and women.

The format is fairly straightforward, despite its mixed gender nature. 78 men and 78 women are in attendance and they’ll play the same course at the same time to the same pins, with the only difference being that different tees are used to accommodate the fact that men (generally) hit the ball further.

Home favourite Alex Noren is the 10/1 favourite this week with Alexander Bjork and Edoardo Molinari the Swede’s closest competitors when it comes to the odds, however it’s noticeable that there’s a lot of respect for the women in the field this year with Linn Grant, Maja Stark, Ingrid Lindblad and Pia Babnik following closely behind in the betting around the 25/1 to 33/1 mark.

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number of putts

Course Overview. To add to the intrigue this week, we’re moving away from last year’s venue in Gothenburg to the Halmstad Golf Club in Tylosand which sits 100km or so further south down the coast.

Listed as a 6,909 yard Par 72 for the men and 6,681 yards for the women, the classical nature of this course is evident with its tree-lined (although not encroachingly so) fairways and numerous dog-legs. Strategic placement off the tee is the game here rather than flagrant bomb-and-gouge, however the putting surfaces are relatively flat, bentgrass-based affairs that will undoubtedly reap birdies to those who can find the putting surfaces in regulation.

Although new to the DP World Tour, the course hosted the 2007 Solheim Cup which was won by the American team 16-12 as well as the 2011 European Amateur Championship; prior to that you’re looking at 2002 for the Challenge Tour (Skandia PGA Open) and 2000 for the LET’s Chrysler Open, so for all intents and purposes we have a blank canvas here.

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event. Current form stats feature both men’s and women’s results from their respective Tours, and the combined stats include last year’s result: Current Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Event Winners. 2021, Jonathan Caldwell. 150/1

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available. This week’s model is simplified to account for the reduced stats available for LET players.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Tylosand is here.

Once rain has worked its way through the area on Thursday, we should be in for a relatively calm and dry tournament with temperatures reaching the mid-60s Fahrenheit and winds around 5-10mph in the main, maybe up to 15mph on Friday.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. With only last year’s Scandinavian Mixed to go on, which was played on a different course up the coast in Gothenburg, this week is a guessing game to a certain degree.

Historically these attempts to mix the men’s and women’s game have resulted in a male-heavy leaderboard, however last year it would appear that organisers got the format just about right with 2 men and 2 women sharing the lead heading into the final day. In the end, Jonathan Caldwell grabbed his first win outside of the EuroPro Tour, holding off Adrian Otaegui by a stroke with Alice Hewson a shot further back. You had to venture into a tie for 10th for the next LET player to appear, however given that the 54-hole leaderboard was more even, that may well be down to the variance of Sunday finishes rather than any gender bias.

Field skill stats and Strokes Gained numbers exist for the whole field from last year, however given we’re on an entirely new track that’s largely irrelevant in my view, so judging the course here at Halmstad on its specification is the preferred route for me.

A short, tree-lined test holds some parallels to the likes of Wentworth, Woburn and Crans-sur-Sierre potentially, with similar tracks in India and Hong Kong also worth consideration

Incoming Form. Looking at the incoming form of the top-5 finishers last year doesn’t give us many clues in truth as there was only 1 top 10 finish on show in any of their previous 12 starts and 4 of the 5 had missed the cut last time out:

  • 1st, Jonathan Caldwell: MC/MC/MC/MC/57/MC/21/42/MC/65/31/MC
  • 2nd, Adrian Otaegui: MC/51/MC/MC/24/42/MC/60/34/40/37/58
  • 3rd, Alice Hewson: 39/MC/53/35/30/33/47/18/MC/MC/47/MC
  • 4th, Scott Hend: MC/57/MC/MC/MC/16/42/8/51/MC/MC/MC
  • 4th, James Morrison: 46/MC/41/MC/MC/28/70/56/48/21/MC/MC

A relatively placid forecast on a short, classical track should encourage deeper scoring than we saw last week in Germany and those who can master the strategic demands of this course may well succeed. Such tracks don’t necessarily appeal just to accurate types though; there are players who find themselves in the mix on comparable courses with regularity and I’ve tried to pluck a few of them out here.

My selections are as follows:

Johannes Veerman 2pts EW 40/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

At 60th in the OWGR Alex Noren is the worthy favourite this week, even if he does arrive here off the back of two missed cuts. That didn’t seem to be a problem for last year’s contenders though and weekends off at the US PGA Championship and Memorial Tournament came at substantially higher levels than this.

With the US Open looming for the Swede next week though, perhaps his focus will be elsewhere in his homeland having once been a must-back in events leading up to a Major. His 2011 Wales Open win was his last start before the US Open; his 2015 Nordea Masters win also preceded that year’s US Open; 2016 saw him win the Scottish Open the week before The Open itself; and in 2018 he won the Open de France in his last start before that year’s Open too. That’s where the run ends though and perhaps over time he’s got more in the mindset of trying not to peak too early. Or perhaps that’s just a narrative I’m building to justify leaving him alone.

For me, the value lies a little deeper in the field this week with Johannes Veerman catching the eye at around 4-times Noren’s price. The talented American has yet to break into the OWGR top-100 in his career and failed to get going in the recent DP World Tour US Open qualifying race that concluded last week, so he’ll have to content himself with watching the action from his armchair next week. He’s a better player than that though and I don’t think it will be too long before he’s a mainstay in golf’s biggest events and plying his trade back on home soil.

Having just turned 30 in the past fortnight or so, perhaps we’ll see a renewed focus from the Californian. Certainly last week’s 10th place finish in Germany was a leap forward in his form having missed 5 of his previous 6 cuts, and 7th for SG Putting was a noteworthy stat as the putter had been a little cold of late. 8th for GIR last week was his best in-field ranking on that count since January and he seemed buoyed on Social Media with his improvement.

A pair of top-20 finishes in Kenya since 2019, 10th at Valderrama, 3rd at Galgorm last year and 8th at the Italian Open in September all carry some relevance to this week in either course style or agronomy, and this shorter, more strategic setup should be right up his alley. RESULT: T18

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Thriston Lawrence 2pts EW 40/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

After opening with a round of 78 last week in Hamburg, only eventual winner Kalle Samooja and 5th place finisher Brandon Stone bettered Thriston Lawrence’s final 54-hole total in Germany as he battled back from a near-certain missed cut to finish inside the top 20.

Perhaps that battling performance will see the 25 year-old rekindle some of the early-season form that threatened to quickly add a more conventional DP World Tour title to the 36-hole affair that he triumphed in at the Joburg Open back November, when Omicron fears caused widespread panic, curtailing the event.

2nd at the short, tree-lined Kenya Open is good form for this week in my view and he followed that up with a pair of top-10 finishes at scoreable parkland tracks with Bentgrass greens at the MyGolfLife Open and Steyn City Championship to give further support to his case here this week.

Since that point he’s been treading water in the main, however the putter notably improved last week, ranking 6th for Putts per GIR on the week, and his approach play continued its recent upward trajectory with 19th, 13th, 15th and then 11th for SG Approach recorded on 4 of his last 5 outings. RESULT: MC

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Lee-Anne Pace 1pt EW 80/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Despite two of the four co-leaders heading into the final day in this event last year being women, only Alice Hewson made the frame on Sunday from the top-9 finishers overall. The bookies are taking no chances with some of the leading lights on the LET this year to date, however the player who catches my eye at the prices on offer is Lee-Anne Pace.

5 wins on the LET in 2010 quite rightly earned the South African the player of the year title and she followed that up with 4 further wins at the same level up to 2014, as well as a solitary success State-side at the 2014 Blue Bay LPGA. Impressive stuff and although her wins since have largely come at the lower Sunshine Ladies Tour level, at the age of 41 she’s showing no sign of slowing up having added at least one title to her name every year since 2015.

Her successful defence of her South African Women’s Open title at the start of April was Lee-Anne’s most recent success, however she’s kept her form since that point, racking up finishes of 20th, 10th, 14th and 6th last week in Italy where she ranked 7th for both Driving Accuracy and GIR to continue a fine spell of long-game excellence that stretches back to that win in her homeland a couple of months ago.

25th in this event last year came immediately after travelling back from the US Women’s Open; no such travel implications this year should leave her fresher ahead of the short trip from Italy to Sweden this week. RESULT: WD

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Scott Hend 1pt EW 150/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Finally, trying to match Scott Hend’s game to certain courses is far from an exact science, however there’s a recurring theme in some of his best efforts that makes him difficult to ignore this week given the price on offer.

Despite being one of the longer hitters on Tour, when the Aussie comes to life most often is in shorter courses that he can bully. 4th in this event 12 months ago on a course only marginally longer than this week’s test is one indicator, however perhaps of more relevance is his 2014 win at Fanling, home of the Hong Kong Open, A short, classical test that would seem to favour precise operators, Hend’s play-off victory over Angelo Que was his first at this level, adding to the 5 Asian Tour trophies that he’d acquired by that point in his career. His win at Saujana at the 2019 Maybank Championship was on another (palm) tree-lined affair that at 7,135 yards is short for a par 72, and you can add to that 2 play-off defeats at Crans-sur-Sierre in 2016 and 2017 on what’s another fiddly track that plays even shorter than its already sub-7,000 yardage due to the altitude in the Swiss Alps.

The reason there’s pretty much always a decent price available on the 49 year-old is his consistency, or lack thereof. 12 Missed Cuts followed an early-season WD in Abu Dhabi, before he found some form in Holland despite feeling under the weather; sitting in 3rd place heading into Sunday, a final round 76 saw him slide down to a tie for 14th in the end. Progress nevertheless, and 25th for Total Driving that week improved to 3rd on that count on the Asian Tour last week in a mid-division finish to suggest that his long game may just be in the kind of shape that’s required for him to seriously contend.

6 cuts made from 7 starts in Sweden over the years is uncharacteristically consistent for Hend and with a 4th place finish at the 2011 Nordea Masters to add to last year’s effort in this format in Gothenburg, a similar finish or better would produce a nice return for each-way backers. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:30BST 6.6.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.