Scandinavian Invitation Preview, Picks & Analysis
Henrik Stenson turned down the FedEx Cup Playoffs to make a return to Gothenburg for the Scandinavian Invitation. The former Open champion is making his 16th appearance on the home soil, and the allure of that opportunity was more rewarding to the popular Swede than the riches of the PGA Tour.
Local favourite Marcus Kinhult will make his first appearance on home soil at the same tournament since claiming his maiden European Tour title in May.
It will be a much-anticipated homecoming to Gothenburg after the 2017 European Challenge Tour graduate from Fiskebäckskil went on to claim the Betfred British Masters in stunning fashion. The 22-year-old showed maturity beyond his years as he responded to back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes of the final round by birdieing the final two holes to seal a memorable one-shot victory at Hillside Golf Club.
The Swede has already grabbed the golfing headlines in his home country when he became only the third amateur to lead a European Tour event at the halfway stage, opening with rounds of 68-67 at the same event in 2015, and is excited to be back home to tee it up for the fifth time in his national open.
“It’s massive and it is definitely one you want to perform well at. For every Swede, I think it’s a very special event and to win it, of course, would be incredible,” said Kinhult. “I played in 2014 and 2015 as an amateur and I remember they were both really big weeks for me, getting an invite and being around the guys at the top of the game. In 2015 in particular, there was a lot of pressure at the weekend. It was all new to me at the time, but I definitely learnt a lot from that experience.
“The fans in Sweden are always so encouraging and appreciative. It does add a little pressure having a lot of home support, every time you look up you see a familiar face, but it always gives you a nice buzz knowing that everyone there is pulling for you to play well. It is a really cool atmosphere to be part of for the whole week.
“I'd been dreaming about it for such a long time and to get the win at the British Masters, it was just amazing in the end. I haven’t played my best golf this year, so, to win such a prestigious event was very special. The memories I have from Sunday are memories I will have for life.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick will also be in the field. The Englishman, who finished tied 20th in The Open Championship at Royal Portrush and then played so well at the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational, won the title at Bro Hof Slot in 2016 and finished runner up at Barseback in 2017, one shot behind winner Renato Paratore of Italy.
Fitzpatrick will be bidding for a sixth European Tour victory, having claimed a title in each of the past four seasons. The most recent of Fitzpatrick’s five titles came in the 2018 Omega European Masters – an event an also won in 2017 - and the 24-year old will attempt to secure a hat-trick of wins at Crans-sur-Sierre, in Switzerland, the week after he plays in the Scandinavian Invitation.
“I’ve played well in Sweden before with a victory and a second place, so I’m looking forward to going back for the Scandinavian Invitation,” said Fitzpatrick. “Even though it’s a different course, you always get good feelings playing in a tournament you’ve won before. Then it’s obviously Switzerland the week after where I’ve won the past two years, so I’m hoping to have a really strong fortnight.”
Fitzpatrick is riding high in the Race to Dubai having finished runner-up in the Honma Hong Kong Open and the BMW International. He also finished tied 12th in the US Open and tied 14th in the Scottish Open.
The tournament was won in 2011 by Alex Noren, in 2012 by Lee Westwood, in 2013 by Mikko Ilonen, in 2014 by Thongchai Jaidee, in 2015 by Noren, in 2016 by Matthew Fitzpatrick, in 2017 by Renato Paratore and last year by Paul Waring.
It was a massive week for Waring as he recorded his first win on the European Tour. “I'm ecstatic,” he said. “I wasn't ever sure this day would come in total honesty. I've tried so hard for many years to get to this point and it's nice to finally cross the line and be holding the trophy. It feels like it's all worth it. I've had a couple of operations along the way and it's nice to finally have got to this point. I'm sure that everyone back home will be absolutely thrilled for me. This is all for everyone back home as well.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick. World-class performer
Henrik Stenson. Local hero
Marcus Kinhult. Still on a high
Matthew Fitzpatrick. Due another victory
Henrik Stenson. Hoping to continue quiet resurgence
Marcus Kinhult. Underrated golfer
Paul Waring. One of the most popular players on tour
Andrew Johnston. Finding some decent form again
Thomas Detry. Hugely promising young Belgian
Aaron Rai. Still looking to kick on after early-season victory
Edoardo Molinari. Has shown some flashes this year
Stephen Gallacher. Enjoys playing in this part of the world
Alexander Bjork. Popular Scandinavian
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Tags: european tour