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Golf Today 23rd March
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Swedes on a mission to Brazil

Swedes Jarmo Sandelin and Mathias Gronberg have separate missions in the Rio de Janeiro Open as the European Tour pays its first visit to South America.

Last year's Ryder Cup man Sandelin has decided to make the long trip for Thursday's start to ensure he has tournament competition before playing for Europe in the Ballesteros Trophy next month.

Gronberg will be at the Itanhanga course trying to secure the vacant ninth European place in the inaugural match between Europe and Britain and Ireland by qualifying from the current rankings.

Sandelin has made it into Ballesteros's Europe side to play Colin Montgomerie's Britain and Ireland from his order of merit finish last year.

But now Sandelin, disappointed at playing only 15 holes in last year's Ryder Cup clash, wants to make sure he is not rusty by the time he lines up for Europe at Sunningdale.

"I've travelled thousands of miles to make sure I don't let my team mates down," said the Finnish-born, 32-year-old Sandelin.

"If I hadn't played for these next two weeks it would have meant four weeks without competitive golf.

"So I've come here to get sharp for the match. I want to enjoy this team event."

Gronberg lies 11th on the present order of merit. Qualification, after the U.S. Masters completes, goes only to players making the top 10.

So Gronberg, as the best-placed European, could seal his Sunningdale place if he picks up the 108,000 dollars first prize.

If no-one qualifies from the current rankings, another Swede, Robert Karlsson, will be awarded the place from last year's order of merit.

Karlsson will also play in Rio, keeping a watching brief on his compatriot.

Next week the European Tour plays in Sao Paulo.

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