Sweden’s crop of emerging talent will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of one of their nation’s golfing heroes when they tee it up in the second edition of The Princess this week.
Ryder Cup star and European Tour champion Henrik Stenson launched the event last year and is backing it again as he looks to give the next generation of Swedes a platform from which to build a successful playing career.
Stenson won the European Challenge Tour Rankings in 2000, winning three times including the Gula Sidorna Grand Prix in his homeland, and a strong Swedish contingent will be looking to replicate that success ten years on.
Among those leading the challenge at Båstad GKwill be Oscar Floren and Pelle Edberg, the leading Swedes in the current Rankings in tenth and 11th place respecitvely.
Floren was tied fifth in the Kenya Open and runner-up in the Turkish Airlines Challenge hosted by Carya Golf Club, losing in a play-off, while in-form Edberg finished joint runner-up in the SAINT OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC a fortnight ago.
They will be joined by the flamboyant Joel Sjöholm, who finished as the leading Swede in last week’s Fred Olsen Challenge de España in tied 11th position.
Sjöholm will be looking to draw inspiration from Stenson as he seeks improve on his best finish so far this season, fifth in the Mugello Tuscany Open, and capture his maiden Challenge Tour title.
He said: “People talk about different personalities in the game but Henrik does it his way and has had great success. He is an inspiration to all the Swedish guys who would love to achieve what he has done so far.
“It’s great that he wants to put this tournament on, especially as he doesn’t do it just to get his name known. He wants to give back to all the people who support him in Sweden and this week people can see us play and see the difference with such a great player as Henrik.
“He won the Rankings in 2000 and that is a great achievement for anyone. I would love to do the same but really I would be happy being in any spot from one to 15come the end of the season. I’m just focusing on getting on the main Tour as soon as I can.”
The promising 25 year old is hoping to mount a sustained campaign on the Challenge Tour after a back injury last year forced him to take some time away from the game.
“I shouldn’t have played in this event last year having injured my back a few weeks before but I just didn’t realise how bad it was until December and had to take time off,” he said. “I should have done that right when it happened.”
For those players looking to graduate on to The European Tour, they need look no further than last year’s winner for inspiration. Englishman Andrew Butterfield’s wire-to-wire victory helped him finish sixth in the Rankings and secure a return to The European Tour.
Scotland’s George Murray has been in fine form of late, winning the Scottish Hydro Challenge and finishing tied fifth in Spain last week, and he returns to Sweden where he finished in the top ten last year.
He said: “I’m just trying to take it all a little less seriously and treat it as a bit more of a joke to be honest and it is paying off. I’m just much more chilled out.”
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