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Swedes hoping for local advantage

Many of Europe's top players are skipping the Scandinavian Masters, which begins Thursday at Barseback Golf and Country Club.

A total of 48 Swedes are entered, including Robert Karlsson, who won last week's Deutsche Bank Players' Championship by four strokes. Karlsson also won the Wales Open in June.

Henrik Stenson, Carl Petterson and Niclas Fasth are among the other Swedes in the field. Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand also is entered.

"The last six months have been frustrating, because I have had a couple of chances to win tournaments but haven't managed to finish them off through trying too hard," Campbell said. "The expectations are high, and I am putting too much pressure on myself out there. Once you win a big one like the U.S. Open, you always want to win more, and there is a time gap between majors for most people."

At the very least, Campbell can put his struggles into perspective when he looks back to his first golfing experience in Sweden on the Challenge Tour in 1997.

"I try to erase those memories," he said. "They are not very pleasant at all - 1997 was a very tough year for me. That was when I lost my card and played a few Challenge Tour events. Those years make you appreciate the better times.

"Here I am, nine years later, with a major under my belt. It was one of the darker periods of my playing career but has made me a better player."

It also ensured Campbell would never again employ his wife Julie as his caddie.

"I sacked her after one round," Campbell said. "I found it difficult to separate her from wife and caddie and things like raking the bunker or being too slow."

Australian Mark Hensby is the defending champion, beating Stenson in a playoff at Kungsangen last year.

Hensby recently sought advice from Jose Maria Olazabal amid fears he has the same injury which almost ended Olazabal's career.

Olazabal withdrew from the 1995 Ryder Cup with a foot injury which initially was diagnosed as rheumatoid polyarthritis and confined him to a wheelchair.

He feared his playing days were over until the problem was correctly identified by German doctor Hans Wilhelm Muller-Wolfhart as a disc problem in his lower back. The Spanish star eventually returned to competition after an 18-month absence.

"I talked to Olazabal, and he had a very similar thing to what I have got, so at least I know where to look," Hensby said. "I may go and see the same doctor in Germany but I will see the guys in America first and see what happens."

Hensby's injuries are a result of a car crash earlier this year and could force him to cut short his season.

"I damaged my leg, back and had a lot of whiplash," Hensby said. "My feet have been really bad, and I really have been struggling to walk 18 holes. I would say this will probably be my last event of the year."

The par-73 course is a 7,365-yard layout.



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