Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Volvo Scandinavian Mixed Tips 2024

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A Sunday 78 from 55/1 shot Guido Migliozzi prevents me from writing a positive introduction for this week’s preview, with the Italian failing to push on from an early birdie to all but drop out of the each-way places with an eventual 5-way tie for 8th providing little solace. Congratulations if you were on the other 54-hole co-leader Laurie Canter who impressively claimed his maiden title after more than his fair share of Sunday let-downs in the past.

With my weekly grumble out of the way, let’s push on with this week’s task. 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 in 2021 with the ‘Scandinavian Mixed’. Such was the response to the event that we’re back for a fourth renewal this year with a $2m prize fund and Volvo once again as the title sponsors as 78 men and 78 women line up against one other.

The format is fairly straightforward, despite its mixed gender nature. Both the men and the women will 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.

Rasmus Hojgaard heads this week’s field at a best-priced 14/1 at the time of writing, with men occupying the first dozen or so spots in the betting market before we get to 2022 winner Linn Grant at 33/1. Separate men’s and women’s markets may well appear as the week progresses, however it’s clear from the first show that the bookmakers expect the men to dominate in the overall market, rightly or wrongly.

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Course Overview. To add to the intrigue this week, we’re moving to yet another new venue for this event, this time to Vasatorps Golf Club which sits towards the south-west of Sweden and to the north of Malmo.

With 54 holes on the estate of varying styles to work with, American Steve Forrest developed the Tournament Course here in 2008 which is a mix of 9 ‘old’ holes that are tree-lined and generally parkland in style, plus 9 ‘new’ holes that are more exposed and somewhat inland linksy in their appearance.

Listed as a 7,295 yard par 72 for the men and presumably a fair amount shorter for the women, although yardages haven’t been confirmed at the time of writing, the layout is on paper a little longer than those used for previous renewals of this event, although whether that materially changes things remains to be seen.

The estate has hosted Scandinavian Open events back in the 1970s and 80s as well as lower grade and women’s golf a little more recently, however in its current guise we’re working from a blank canvas this week.
With a 484 yard Par 5 and 326 yard Par 4 on the opening 9, the front side is shorter than the back although how difficult or easy this course plays remains to be seen,

volvo mixed tips

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 the last three years’ worth of results, however as noted the venue has changed again this year: Current Form | First Round Leader Stats | Event Stats | Combined Stats.

Event Winners. 2023, Dale Whitnell, 140/1; 2022, Linn Grant, 28/1; 2021, Jonathan Caldwell, 150/1

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

Sunshine and showers is the order of the day throughout this week’s tournament with temperatures hovering around the 15 Centigrade (59 Fahrenheit) level in the afternoons. The breeze will be noticeable without being excessive, with a fairly constant 10-15mph blowing across the course and gusts up to 25mph, particularly on Saturday.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. With only three editions of the Scandinavian Mixed to go on, each of which played on different courses, this week is still a guessing game to a large degree.

Historically these attempts to mix the men’s and women’s game have resulted in a male-heavy leaderboard, however it would appear that organisers got the format just about right in 2021 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.

The 2022 win for Linn Grant – by a runaway 9 strokes in the end – further reinforces this point, although you have to head all the way down to 15th place to find the next LET player so caution still needs to be advised.

Ann Van Dam and Gabriella Cowley finished 3rd and 5th last year to reward each-way backers, however the rest of the top 10 was male-dominated so a fairly common theme is beginning to emerge as we build up more history.

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

Incoming Form. The recent form of our three event winners to date was very different, which goes some way to explaining the odds differential between Linn Grant in 2022 (28/1) versus the 150/1 available about Jonathan Caldwell the year before and Dale Whitnell at 140/1 12 months ago:

  • 2023, Dale Whitnell: 26/10/78/28/12/9/32/MC/MC/MC/81/MC
  • 2022, Linn Grant: 57/65/MC/23/18/2/2/1/7/7/13/1
  • 2021, Jonathan Caldwell: MC/MC/MC/MC/57/MC/21/42/MC/65/31/MC

Grant was undeniably in great form heading into this event 2 years ago, arriving off the back of her second win of the season at the Belgian Ladies Open a fortnight before which backed up her success in Joburg in March.

Caldwell, on the other hand, had a season’s best finish of 21st in Gran Canaria 6 weeks before and had missed the cut in Germany on his last start, however there were a few signs of life with rounds of 65 & 67 (twice) on his previous two starts to suggest that his game wasn’t a million miles away – if you can ignore the poor rounds that flanked those efforts of course.

Dale Whitnell though would have taken a serious leap of faith to back on current form alone. 10th in Abu Dhabi and 9th in Thailand at the start of the year was positive, however 5-event form of MC/MC/MC/81/MC prior to his victory hardly suggested that success was impending.

My selections are as follows:

Connor Syme 2pts EW 30/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

A tricky betting heat demands a cautious approach and I’m playing it simple with just 3 selections this week.

Of course the first question is whether my team should be formed of men, women or a mix of both with the three renewals so far producing varying results. If you take Linn Grant’s 2022 win out of the equation then it would be fairly easy to conclude that the bookies’ view of the market – where the top dozen or so in the betting are all men – is probably the right view. But then Grant’s runaway victory 2 years ago muddies the water, so some caution needs to be exercised.

For me, the way the first 3 renewals have set up has generally favoured the men as they’re often attacking pins with better scoring clubs, despite the attempt to level the playing field with the different tees used. Essentially it took an incredible performance from a player who’d won two of her last five starts to take the title. I don’t see any of the women in that category this year and in the end I’ve settled for a team of 3 men.

Laurie Canter’s win last week could prove a shot in the arm to many players who’ve previously struggled to get over the line, and if there’s to be an instant response to that from another talented maiden who’s overdue a win then perhaps it will come from Connor Syme.

Having broken through on the Challenge Tour in 2019 at the Turkish Airlines Challenge, Syme has put himself in position on a number of occasions since without quite finishing the job off. 10 times the Scot has been inside the top 3 heading into Sunday since that success without producing the final round necessary to take the title, including most recently at the Kenya Open in February, where he was 3rd after 54 holes, and the SDC Championship the week after where he tied for the lead with a round to go before shooting 75.

Of course the question that needs answering is why should that change now? Clearly players evolve, develop and learn at different rates and some need more chances than others before the door finally opens, but in Canter we have clear evidence that this can and does happen to the most talented sorts.

Perhaps the real inspiration though will come from Robert MacIntrye’s win on Sunday in Canada. Despite spending their formative years on opposite coasts of Scotland, Syme and MacIntyre ended up playing alongside each other throughout their amateur careers, from representing Scotland together in 2013 at the European Boys’ Team Championship through to playing together at the  St Andrews Trophy, Eisenhower Trophy and Walker Cup before they both turned professional. If anything can help finally get Connor over the line then perhaps it’s seeing what his friend has achieved Stateside. Result: MC

7th was the final result for Syme at that aforementioned event in Kenya, 4th at the SDC Championship and then he finished 8th at the Jonsson Workwear Open the week after. 34th at the Soudal Open after a promising 65 to open was a solid effort, and the 28 year-old finished 22nd last week in Germany with his SG Approach performance of 3rd in the field the most impressive figure. Perhaps this will be his week.

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Todd Clements 1pt EW 100/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Robert Macintyre’s win in Canada once again reminded the golf punting world that intangibles are so often as important as any statistic you might dig out or trend that you uncover in your quest to find a winner. Having talked about feeling a little isolated on the PGA Tour after his promotion to the top tier this season, Bob’s masterstroke was to employ his Dad Dougie on the bag for last week’s breakthrough victory at Hamilton G&CC and the rest is history.

Now I can’t offer you a direct comparison for this week’s affair in Sweden, however the mixed format presents a unique situation where Todd Clements and his partner Olivia Cowan are both in the field, albeit as opponents rather than as a team. Now whether that inspires one or other, or both, players to perform well this week remains to be seen, however I’ll take the view that it’s a positive for both and their mutual attendance could spark something interesting on the course.

Clements got his breakthrough win at DP World Tour level at the Czech Masters last August, producing a sizzling final round of 63 to pip Matt Wallace to the title, and although he’s not hit the same heights since, a top 20 at the Soudal Open with 4 rounds in the 60s is his best effort since that aforementioned victory and he followed that up on a tougher test last week which suits less, yet 34th overall was no disaster.

The Englishman has plenty of parkland and linksy style experience from his formative years growing up in the east of England so this course should feel comfortable on debut, and his 6-shot victory at the 2022 Irish Challenge came at the K-Club’s Palmer South course which is inland links in style. Result: T19

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Garrick Porteous 1pt EW 200/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Finally, at a longer price still I’m backing Garrick Porteous who snuck into this week’s field alongside Tom Lewis courtesy of his 8th place finish last week in Germany.

The parallels to previous champions Dale Whitnell and Jonathan Caldwell are clear to see: British men in their 30s with multiple lower-tier wins to their name, seeking a breakthrough at low-key DP World Tour level to elevate their career to that next stage.

Porteous, like defending champion Whitnell, was born in Colchester and could take inspiration from his fellow Essex man’s success in this event last year, and there was plenty to like in his game at Green Eagle to afford him some support this week.

A pair of 69s to open put the 34 year-old in 4th position heading into the weekend, and although a Saturday 77 effectively took him out of the tournament, it was to his credit that he closed with a solid round of 70 to give him this week’s start.

3rd for SG Putting was the most eye-catching stat last week although he was positive on all long game SG metrics, however it’s April’s win in Abu Dhabi on the Challenge Tour that ultimately gets him the nod. Rounds of 66, 63, 64 and 63 proved just too good for Alex Levy who did very little wrong in defeat, and that first win for 7 years at all levels might just be the platform that he needs to take another step forward in his career this week. Result: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:52BST 3.6.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.