2023 Scandinavian Mixed Preview, Picks & Analysis
DEFENDING champion Linn Grant and 10-time DP World Tour winner Alex Noren will tee it up this week at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed at Ullna Golf & Club, just 30 minutes from the Swedish capital Stockholm.
Hosted by ten-time Major Champion Annika Sörenstam, the tournament was a first-of-its-kind event when it was staged in 2021 and sees 78 men and 78 women compete on the same course for one prize fund and one trophy.
There are a number of DP World Tour players who could do with a good week, most notably Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre. Having won the Italian Open last year, he hoped to take that form into 2023 and challenge for a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team. But it has been a disappointing campaign thus far.
However, it just takes one week for all of that to change.
Ewen Ferguson is another Scot with lofty ambitions. A two-time winner last year, he made a poor start to this season but has turned things around in recent weeks, finishing in a tie for third at the SDC Championship, tied fourth at the Jonsson Workwear Open and tied eighth at the KLM Open.
Co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and the Ladies European Tour, home favourite Grant made history at Halmstad Golf Club in 2022 as the first female winner, storming to a nine-stroke victory on home soil.
The 23-year-old Swede had a season to remember in 2022 going on to win the ‘LET Rookie of the Year’ after claiming four victories in her first year on Tour and was crowned the Race to Costa del Sol champion, following in the illustrious footsteps of Sörenstam.
Grant said: “I’m really excited to come back and defend my title at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed in front of Swedish fans and at an exciting golf course near Stockholm.
“I played the first round with Annika last year and it was such an incredible experience to win against a mixed field. It’s a unique event and I am proud that Sweden is pushing to bring female and male golfers together both on and off the golf course.
“I think my victory last year was a big step in our sport and I hope it brings women’s golf into the spotlight and it gets people’s eyes on us a little bit more. To be able to speak Swedish and hear everyone out there cheering for you, it was amazing, and I can’t wait to get back in June to defend my title.”
Ryder Cup star Noren may have something to say about that as he returns to his home town with ambitions to make Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team later this year.
He spends much of his time these days on the PGA Tour but is relishing the opportunity to show the home fans what he can do.
“I’m looking forward to coming back to Sweden,” said Noren, a previous winner of his home open in 2011 and 2015. “I played last year and thought it was amazing. Linn Grant obviously ran away with it and she played unbelievable. The tournament is really great and I am proud it is taking place in Sweden.
"Going to Stockholm, especially to Ullna, it’s a really cool place right on a lake with very interesting holes, and it will be good for both the men and women in competition mode.
“Being in Sweden and being a dad to a little girl, I like for women to have the same opportunities. I grew up watching an LET event at my home course and we loved it as kids trying to get their balls after 18, and just watch them play.”
Sörenstam is thrilled to have Grant and Noren in the field.
She said: “Linn and Alex are fantastic golfers in their own right, both proven winners on the global stage, and both are even better people, so I look forward to welcoming them to Stockholm for this fantastic tournament.
"Linn played our ANNIKA Foundation events as a junior, so it was really special to see her win last year. The Scandinavian Mixed is so unique and I know the fans in Sweden will come out to support both the men and women.”
It was won in 2021 by Jonathan Caldwell and in 2022 by Linn Grant.
Linn Grant destroyed the field last year and has continued to display some excellent form. Ullna is a tricky course that demands accuracy from the tee - and that should play into Grant’s hands. She will definitely fancy her chances of a successful title defence.
Ullna Golf Club lies on the banks of Lake Ullna, which comes into play on several holes. It was opened in 1981 and redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2013. The tree-lined fairways are narrow and there are some extremely challenging holes, most notably the par-three fifth, which is played to an island green. It measures just 6,819 yards.
Linn Grant. Will be inspired by home crowd
Ewen Ferguson. When he’s good, he is really good
Robert MacIntyre. Needs to get season back on track
Five to Follow:
Linn Grant. Looking for a successful defence
Ewen Ferguson. A birdie machine
Robert MacIntyre. Glorious putter
Alex Noren. Would love to win on home soil
Haotong Li. You never quite know what you’re going to get
Five Outsiders to Watch:
Annika Sorenstam. A living legend
Meghan Maclaren. Capable of going really low
Andy Sullivan. Course should suit the Englishman
Jamie Donaldson. Veteran who still loves competing
James Morrison. Should have achieved more
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