Thursday, 26 August 2004
Sweden’s Henrik Nystrom had to conquer a Stockholm traffic jam before he could take command of the Skandia PGA Open alongside Englishman Mathew King – both players opening the tournament with excellent rounds of six under par 64 at the Arlandastad Golf Club.

Nystrom lives 20 minutes from the course and set out early for his first round tee time of 9:00am so that he could pick up a new set of water proofs due to the heavy rain around the Stockholm area.

After picking up his weather gear, the Swede soon discovered that the rain was the least of his worries as he found himself stuck in traffic, leading him to believe he was going to miss his tee time and incur an automatic disqualification.

As it happens, Nystrom arrived with 20 minutes to spare – just enough time for a quick warm up before going out and carding one of his best rounds of the season, the key to which was his belly putter that he was using for the first time since playing in The European Tour’s Deutsche Bank – SAP Open TPC of Europe two years ago.

“That was a pretty funny day!” said Nystrom, who went to the turn in level par 34 before storming home in 30 shots. “I got up early to pick up some new water proofs because the weather was terrible this morning and I got stuck in traffic on my way to the course.

“I was starting to get really worried actually because the traffic was nose to nose and my tee time was getting closer and closer. It would usually take me about 20 minutes to make that journey from my home but it took me an hour and a half to get there this morning. But I got there and even had time for a quick warm up. I think I went through every club in my bag in about ten minutes on the range but I felt good, so off I went.

“I think the main difference in the round today was the belly putter. I got it out of the basement the other day and decided to have a go because my putting has been really streaky recently with the short putter. My stroke is more consistent with the belly putter and it is closer to ground. After holing a 40 foot birdie putt on the 17th, I think it is safe to say that I will be using it tomorrow!”

Nystrom, ironically, had never played the Arlandastad course despite living so close to it and was pleasantly surprised by the venue for the Skandia PGA Open.

“I think the course is great here – I was shocked that it was so good. It is very narrow and very long for a par 70 course, which is what I think the Challenge Tour players need to prepare them for the main Tour because the courses out there can make it a different game at times.”

King, who has notched two top ten finishes in his last two Challenge Tour events as well as a tie for 16th in the dual ranking BMW Russian Open, took his current run of fine form to join Nystrom at the top of the leaderboard with a flawless round of six birdies and 12 pars.

The leaders are two strokes clear of Scotland’s David Drysdale, with five players – including defending champion Titch Moore of South Africa – on three under par.

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