Nordea Masters: Prolific Olesen can go in again, says The Punter

Thorbjørn Olesen – one of five Punter’s picks in Sweden
Thorbjørn Olesen – one of five Punter’s picks in Sweden

After a brilliant week at Wentworth, the European Tour moves on to Sweden for the Nordea Masters. Read our man's in-depth preview of the event here...


“I’m more than happy to take a chance on the prolific Thorbjørn Olesen at 50/1 with the Sportsbook. He was fourth here back in 2009 and that was some effort given it was his very first European Tour appearance.”

Tournament History

The Nordea Masters, formerly the Scandinavian Masters, was created in 1991 when the Scandinavian Enterprise Open, an event that dated back to the 1960s, merged with the PLM Open. Although a fairly new tournament, some big names have already taken the title. Colin Montgomerie won the inaugural staging and he went on to win it three times. Lee Westwood has also won the event three times and major winners Nick Faldo, Vijay Singh, Graeme McDowell and Adam Scott have also taken the title.


Venue

The Masters Course, Barsebäck G&CC, Malmö, Sweden.


Course Details

Stroke index in 2009 - 74.57 (7,657 yards)

After a break of eight years, the Nordea Masters returns to the Masters Course at Barsebäck G&CC for the 10th time. Argentine, Ricardo Gonzalez won here in 2009 with a 10-under-par total.

The Masters Course at Barsebäck dates back almost 50 years. Designed by Ture Bruce, the first nine holes were completed in 1969 and the second nine in 1970 and in 1992 it hosted this event for the first time.

The unique Championship course was created especially for the tournament. A further 12 European tour events and the 2003 Solheim Cup have been held here since and in 2003 the "competition course" became a permanent fixture named the Masters Course.

Barsebäck is a long course with average width fairways and large, flat bentgrass greens. According to the venue's website, the course is a mixture of wooded holes ringed with wind sculpted pines, open fairway holes and beautiful links holes overlooking Öresund.

For more on the course, please see this hole-by-hole guide here.


Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 10:00 on Thursday (UK time).


Last Five Winners

2016 - Matthew Fitzpatrick -16
2015 - Alex Noren -12
2009 - Thongchai Jaidee -16
2008 - Mikko Ilonen -21
2012 - Lee Westwood -19


Nine Tournament winners at Barsebäck

1992 - Nick Faldo -11
1995 - Jesper Parnevik -18
1997 - Joakim Haeggman -18
1999 - Colin Montgomerie -20
2001 - Colin Montgomerie -14
2003 - Adam Scott -11
2004 - Luke Donald -16
2006 - Marc Warren -10 (playoff)
2009 - Ricardo Gonzalez -10


What Will it Take to Win the Nordea Masters?


Barsebäck is a long track and the big hitters should be advantaged. Ricardo Gonzalez only ranked 63rd for Driving Accuracy when he won here in 2009 and Markus Higley, who finished tied for fourth and ninth for DA was the only player in the top-ten to rank inside the top-10 for that stat, so accuracy off the tee doesn't appear essential. Danny Willett, who ranked number one for Driving Distance, finished 11th and the winner ranked 10th for DD.

Every winner of the event here has gotten to double-digits under-par, suggesting that despite its length it's not an especially difficult track and if the wind isn't too strong, I suspect we'll get a bit of a birdie-fest. I can remember Robert Karlsson firing a 63 in round three in 2006 to move from 10 off the lead to tie first so low scores are certainly possible and those ranked one to five in the Putting Average stats in 2009 all finished inside the top-12. The winner, Gonzalez, ranked first for PA.


Is There an Angle In?


The list of course winners could almost be a list entitled 'Great Links Exponents' so look to players that have fared well in the Open Championship, the Dunhill Links Championship and recent Scottish Opens.

The Swedes fare well in this event and they've won four of the last nine renewals but back at this venue, keep an eye on the Danes. It's not far for them to come, they won't lack for support and this could feel like a home event for Thomas Bjorn and Co.

The last time we played here, Jeppe Huldahl and a very young Thorbjørn Olesen finished tied for fourth and despite his lack of length, Soren Kjeldsen finished tied for 12th.

Olesen disappointed again at Wentworth last week, where he missed the cut for the sixth time in seven attempts, but I can see a much improved effort here and he sounds like he's looking forward to it.

"I am very excited to be returning to the Nordea Masters. It is an event I have always enjoyed, and with it being so close to Denmark I hope to have a lot of home support throughout the week."


Is There an Identikit Winner?

Alex Noren, Mikko Ilonen and Jesper Parnevik have all won the event twice and as already mentioned, Monty and Westwood have won it three times. That's a lot of multiple winners for an event that only started in the 90s so past winners might be worth considering.


In-Play Tactics


As already mentioned, Karlsson made a big move in round two to go from barely making the cut to being tied for the lead with a round to go (eventually lost to Marc Warren in a playoff), so making giant strides up the leaderboard is possible but I've looked at the seven results here between 1997 and 2009 and every winner was inside the top-seven at halfway and only Adam Scott, in 2003, was outside the top-thee and more than two strokes back after 36 holes.

The last two course winners were both two adrift with a round to go and Monty trailed by a stroke in 2001 but the other four winners were all in front or tied for the lead through 54 holes.

Assuming the course hasn't been changed since 2009, the par four 18th is quite a tough par four. It ranked as the third hardest hole on the course and averaged 4.28 in 2009.


Market Leaders


This is Henrik Stenson's home course and he won the Club Championship four times here as an amateur. He'll get a hero's welcome now that he's the Open Champion and Sweden's only major winner but his record here in this event isn't spectacular.

Stenson was a distant second to Luke Donald in 2004 (beaten by five strokes) but in six other appearances, the best he's ever mustered is 30th, way back in 1999. He's never won this event and I suspect it's one he'd dearly love to add to the CV. That longing for the home win, coupled with all the inevitable media coverage, won't help his cause and he looks one to swerve at the odds.

Alex Noren is two-time tournament winner but he slumped to 12th place last year with a disappointing final round 78 when bidding for a hat-trick of wins at Bro Hof Slot - quite a contrast to Sunday's 62 at Wentworth!

He's been playing well for a few weeks now and last week's win didn't come out of the blue. He's now won five times on the European Tour in 17 starts since last July and he can't be dismissed lightly but he's never won back-to-back tournaments and his form figures here read a poor MC-52-MC.

Defending Champ, Matthew Fitzpatrick, finished the BMW PGA Championship nicely with a closing 66 to finish ahead of Westwood in 12th but he's not been in brilliant form of late and this venue could be long enough for him too.

Lee Westwood is looking to win the tournament for a fourth time but for a first time here. He finished runner-up to Monty back in 2001 here and that effort was sandwiched between a debut 14th in 1997 and a missed cut in 2004 so quite what we'll get this week is anyone's guess.

I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised to see Westwood figure this week but he's very hard to get across the line and he has to lift himself after Sunday's disappointing 73 which saw him slip from a tie for third to a tie for 14th.


Selections


I'm going to give Haotong Li another chance again this week. He was a bit disappointing at Wentworth, after a bright start, but he finished strongly with a five-under-par 67 to finish tied for 30th and he qualified for the US Open at Walton Heath yesterday with ease so he's holding his form fairly well.

I'm more than happy to take a chance on the prolific Thorbjørn Olesen at 50/1 with the Sportsbook. As already stated, he was fourth here back in 2009 and that was some effort given it was his very first European Tour appearance.

In addition to his World Cup win alongside Soren Kjeldsen last year and his GolfSixes win alongside Lucas Bjerregaard, Olesen's already won four times in total on the European Tour and once in each of the last three years. The course will suit and that's a fair price.

I was a little surprised to be able to back Alvaro Quiros at a bigger price than he was when he won a fortnight ago. The big hitting Spaniard will enjoy the venue and he owes me nothing.

I quite like the look of Olesen's partner at the GolfSixes, Lucas Bjerregaard. He's looked a winner in waiting for a while now but he's often struggled in-contention at the business end of tournaments. He will have learnt a lot from that victory alongside Olesen and the next time he finds himself in-the-mix he might perform a bit better.

And finally, Joakim Lagergren's form has dipped since he lost a playoff at the Qatar Masters but a return to home soil might see an improvement and he's a big enough price to chance.


Selections:
Haotong li @ 44.043/1
Thorbjørn Olesen @ 50/1
Alvaro Quiros @ 160.0159/1
Lucas Bjerregaard @ 160.0159/1
Joakim Lagergren @ 270.0269/1


I'll be back on Friday with the In-Play Blog.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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