Volvo Scandinavian Masters
Volvo Scandinavian Masters
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Leading contenders for the Scandinavian Masters

The Scandinavian Masters returns to the Barseback course this year and once again there's a quality field disputing the £167, 000 first prize.

The Malmo crowd usually gets right behind the local players though it remains to be seen which one of the Swedes in the field can live up to the challenge.

At 7,301 yards the par 72 course is on the long side but the weather should not be a problem with a mixture of sun and cloud forecast.

LEADING CONTENDERS

Colin Montgomerie

There's not much about Monty that golf watchers everywhere won't already know. Six times the Order of Merit winner and all-time leading money earner in Europe by some distance. This season is no different to previous ones, he leads the money list again and his form at the moment is the reason he is the short price favourite for this tournament. Loch Lomond was the scene of Colin's most recent victory saw him appropriately beat three Swedes in Michael Jonzon, Matts Lanner and Jesper Parnevik. Perhaps that's a good omen.

Jesper Parnevik

Without doubt Sweden's best hope of a home-grown winner of this tournament. Parnevik's off-the-wall lifestyle and approach to the game has been brightening up both European and US tours for some time now and it has been no bar to success. A string of career wins includes the last two Scandinavian Opens. The home crowd he finds acts as a spur when the heat is on: “Thanks to the enthusiastic crowd I played better and better. I'm very glad I won because after winning in 1995 I didn't know if I would get a second chance.” He's an almost certain wild card choice for this autumn's European Ryder Cup team.

Retief Goosen

The South African has been enjoying his most successful career on the European Tour. His season's finishes to date do tell much of the story, he won the Novotel Perrier Open and to go with that he was fourth in Madeira and in the Volvo PGA Championship, sixth in Italy, second in the Duetsche Bank Open and second at the German Open and the European Grand Prix. And there's no real sign that he has gone off the boil, 10th in the Open and at Loch Lomond suggest he is carrying some impressive form into this tournament.

Thomas Bjorn

A very hit and miss season this time round but there's no question the Dane has plenty of talent. A former Ryder Cup player he'll probably miss out this time round. His massive length off the tee will be suited to this course. He has won in Europe in the past and there's no doubting his bottle when the heat is on. However, he's not carrying in the sort of form that might give his supporters genuine confidence of a victory, don't write him off but fourth favourite with most bookies seems a trifle optimistic.

Per-Ulrik Johansson

Finished tied 10th at the European Open to mark a return to some sort of form, the Swede will be hoping he can chalk one up for the home contingent. Johansson is the only Swede to date to play in two Ryder Cups, at Oak Hill in 1995 and Valderrama in 1997. He seems to have gradually recovered from the mystery virus that struck him down at the end of the 1997 season and seems to keep recurring. His fine all round game should be responsible for many more tour wins though whether this will be the one is debatable.

Patrik Sjoland

The gift from his father of a seven iron at the age of nine was an inspired choice for the young Swede was to grow up into fine Tour pro. Something of a patchy season going into this tournament but brightened up of late with a tied 10th at Loch Lomond and tied 18th in the Open. He's definitely got quality though he'll have to pull something out of the bag to make the Ryder Cup team after really failing to continue the fine form of last season. His main strength is his iron play and round the greens while driving accuracy will probably decide the destiny of the Scandinavian open this time round.

Jarmo Sandelin

Should Sandelin win this week he might be considered the most fitting candidate. For though he is a Swedish citizen he was actually born in Finland – a Scandinavian on two counts! He has two wins to his credit this season – the Peugeot Open de Espana and more recently the German Open along with three top 10s he can count this a pretty successful season so far. He will certainly make his debut in the Ryder Cup this time and no one would deny him his place. What gives him a live chance here is his huge driving ability while not being the most accurate off the tee he has nerve and aggression.

Andrew Coltart

Coltart won't be displeased with his season to date, it looks like he's going to achieve his aim of playing in the Ryder Cup. His affinity with the Australian Tour has seen him spend much of his golfing time out there. Having won the Australian PGA twice there's little doubt he's a man to follow on his day but only one win on the European Tour despite some consistently decent finishes makes it difficult to warrant a tip here.

THE BEST OF THE REST

Ian Woosnam's return to fitness has seen a marked improvement in form of late if only he could sort his putting out. He is strong off the tee and has been part of more tense finishes than most of us have eaten smorgasbord. Costantino Rocca is a great competitor who briefly threatened in the recent European Open which finished on Monday – meaning preparation may have been curtailed. One player whose star burned brightly for while is Peter Baker, consistently average lately he deserves a mention for coming tied third in this tournament on this course two years ago. Spaniard Ignacio Garrido came second here in 1997 and 32nd when the tournament was at Barseback in 1995. Garrido's hardly set the world on fire thus far this season but he obviously knows the course. Last but by no means least Padraig Harrington is worth more than a passing thought his knowledge of the course led him to a tied fourth in 1997 and with an 18th at the European Open and 29th in The Open, his form is not the worst.

SUMMARY

The fact the organisers of this tournament have switched between venues it is not easy to pinpoint course form.

However, with so much quality in the field it is sure to be an interesting fight.

You can always back Monty - Mr. Consistency and what a competitor but he does not win every tournament and with odds as stingy as 9-2 with some firms there is no value in the risk anyway.

Stan James opened the book on Jesper Parnevik at 12-1 though whether that is still available when the tournament starts is doubtful.

Parnevik is the obvious tip here – he has won at Barseback before and is defending his title albeit secured on a different course.

The crowd will be right behind him which brings pressure of its own but as a big match player it is a pressure he seems to thrive on. He is pretty long off the tee and, at just under 70 per cent, pretty accurate too. And to add further weight to the Parnevik cause he is in prime form - tied 10th in the Open (better than Monty) and on the US Tour he bagged the Greater Greensboro title and a tied 17th in the US Open.

But Parnevik will be given a run for his money by Jarmo Sandelin the big hitting Swedish citizen is another one to be playing well at the moment.

He is not as accurate as Jesper and some might question his judgement at times. If he has a failing he can be overly aggressive but that speaks volumes of his competitive nature.

He will certainly have the backing of the crowd and two wins already this season suggest he can close out a tournament when he plays himself into touching distance.

Not only that but Corals offer of 40-1 seems overly generous considering his worthwhile credentials.

Ignacio Garrido and Padraig Harrington can also be given at least a passing interest and for the same reason.

Without much course history to go on we must go on what we have. And both these players have carded top five finishes in the past, Harrington's form is better than Garrido's but in a decent field they are both good golfers who are worthy of each-way consideration

Harrington remains accurate off the tee and over 270 yards with 73% greens in regulation.

While Garrido is less acurate but with prodigious length over 7,300 yards at Barseback shouldn't be a problem.

 

Sporting Life


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