In the third part of our ‘Challenge Tour players around the World’ series, we speak to Swede Bjorn Åkesson about his desire to make his second season on the Tour count, while he also prophesises about the rising stars of Swedish golf.
As one of the many promising young Swedish players on the Challenge Tour, Bjorn Åkesson believes that it is only a matter of time before either he or one of his compatriots makes a breakthrough and becomes a big player on the world stage.
Alongside players such as Jens Dantorp, Oskar Henningsson, Steven Jeppesen and Åke Nilsson, Åkesson is one of a host of Swedish hopefuls attempting to clinch one of the coveted top 20 spots in the Challenge Tour rankings at the end of this season.
The Malmo native finished in 53rd place in the rankings in his first year on the Challenge Tour and, after a good start to the 2012 season with a top 20 finish at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in India, he believes he is in much better shape this time around.
“I feel good going into this season,” said the 23 year old, who will play in next week’s dual-ranking Madeira Islands Open – Portugal. “I played a lot of these courses last year so I know them better now and I also know more of the guys on tour. It’s a bit different playing here than the Nordic League. I learned last year that every shot is so important on the Challenge Tour, that’s what I learned last year so it will be nice now knowing the courses this time around.
“I had a lot of finishes last year between 15th and 30th. That’s okay, but if you want to end up top 20 at the end of the year, you need a few top tens and top fives and probably a win so that’s my goal for this year.
“It looks like I have good consistency from looking at my finishes but the rounds have been a little bit up and down. During one round I would start off well but then I would finish badly; one hole can be really good and the next can be a disaster so that’s what I need to work on.”
Åkesson’s increasing sense of comfort this year is helped by the number of Swedes in total on the Challenge Tour and one of his close friends has already made a big impression in his rookie year – 23 year old Dantorp, who currently lies in 30th place in the rankings.
“I definitely think Jens has what it takes to be a good European Tour player,” said Åkesson. “He played amazingly well last year on the Nordic League. He won that by a big margin and he’s a good friend of mine, we’ve known each other since we were about ten so he’s a really good guy and a very good golfer.
“Niklas Lemke too, one day he will get his breakthrough and he will just take off but all the Swedes are really good. It’s good to see so many good young Swedish golfers and now Joakim Lagergren is playing well on The European Tour so it’s really positive.
“It’s nice too that there are a lot of Swedes here to travel with. These long trips would be pretty boring if there weren’t two or more of us going together.“Sweden is a very small country but there are a lot of good golfers so it’s great. Because of our cold winters we usually get a couple of months off allowing us to take a break, play hockey or whatever. We can also make some small changes but because we have that break, I think that’s a big reason for our success.”