Wednesday, 13 January 1999
Per Nyman produced a devastating finish over Valderrama’s ferocious closing stretch to capture the MacGregor Challenge at the scene of Europe’s magnificent Ryder Cup victory in 1997.

On that occasion, two Swedes - Per-Ulrik Johansson and Jesper Parnevik - were instrumental in aiding the European cause against the United States. Last week, the Swedes were to the fore again as Nyman’s six-under-par 65 secured him victory in the focal point of the highly popular MacGregor Week at San Roque on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Nyman, 30, led a Swedish one-two in the MacGregor Challenge. Second place, four strokes adrift, went to Johan Ryström, who claimed the 38th and final card at the European Tour Qualifying School Finals last November.

It was a spectacular effort by Nyman, who covered the last six holes in six under par to collect the first prize of £1500 plus an invitation by the Japanese owners of the San Roque Club to play in the Acom International Tournament in Japan later in the year.

The Guardian Performance Data statistics reveal that the Swede had only 24 putts on his amazing card, including four singles to complete his round over a course which has sent many a calm golfing brain into meltdown.

Nyman strung together his fine round after taking some putting advice from the resident MacGregor Week putting guru, Harold Swash. Armed with Harold’s information, he picked up six birdies, two eagles and had four bogeys in a rollercoaster ride over Valderrama’s undulating terrain.

"I suppose it was a spectacular finish", said Nyman. "Considering it’s on Valderrama I have to count it as one of my better rounds. I hadn’t played for two months and, strangely, although it was a great score I didn’t hit the ball so good. However it doesn’t matter if you hole the putts. My putting was good and it’s thanks to a change of my set-up and tempo on Harold’s advice."

A birdie at the second and a chip-in eagle at the fourth got him moving along nicely but the real fireworks didn’t start until the 13th, which he birdied from four feet. Nyman sent a two iron to 25 feet at the 15th, holed from 15 feet at the 16th, eagled the 17th with a drive and eight iron to five feet and rounded off a wonderful day with a 15 footer for a birdie at the last.

The man who owns a tee collection of almost 1000 pegs proved to be unbeatable on the day, although Ryström tried hard to give him a run for his money. Ryström followed 12 straight pars by sinking his second shot at the 13th with a five iron for an eagle two. He said: "I was blocked out behind a tree but punched in a little five iron which rolled up and disappeared. It was nice after twelve pars to go two under. It was a solid round and I need more like that on Tour this year - and a few more holed five irons!"

Ryström finished on 69, one ahead of Qualifying School graduate Andy Raitt. He collected £1000 for his runner-up position with Raitt taking home £750 to start off his new career on the European Tour.

Another Swede, Jorgen Aker, savoured the experience of notching up the first albatross of his life when he holed a six iron from 170 yards at the par five 17th - the same hole where Miguel Angel Jiménez achieved the feat in the Volvo Masters some years ago. Aker made his miraculous two just moments after being disqualified from the MacGregor Challenge as he attempted to show courtesy to his fellow competitors.

He explained: "My tee shot at the 15th must have hit a path and disappeared. I looked for five minutes and couldn’t find it, so rather than go back to the tee and waste 10 minutes, I opted not to complete the hole. Anyway, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the 17th hole. I hit a good drive down the left side, cut in a little six iron and it took two hops and rolled in. I had never even been close to an albatross before and it’s something I will always remember."

There was no follow-up Swedish success in the MacGregor Week Pro-Am at San Roque, the event which brings down the curtain on a seven-day itinerary including coaching, playing, lectures and generally learning the ropes of travelling on the European Tour.

Nick Ludwell from Yorkshire led his team to victory with a 13 under par score of 59 over the course which stages the Qualifying School Finals. The 26 year old received able assistance from Lewine Mair, Golf Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, resident sports psychologist Alan Fine and Scott Kelly, Group Marketing Director of the European Tour.
Runner-up on 61 was the team led by Spain’s Alvaro Salto with third place going to Swede Fredrik Lindgren and his partners on 62.

MacGregor Challenge Results:

65 P Nyman (Swe) £1500
69 J Ryström (Swe) £1000
70 A Raitt (Eng) £750
72 J Bickerton (Eng) £500
73 A Barnett (Wal) £250
74 M Backhausen (Den), N Roderick (Wal)
75 S Dodd (Wal), C Rodiles (Sp), F Lindgren (Swe)
77 M Anglert (Swe), S Wakefield (Eng), N Ludwell (Eng)
78 N Preston (Eng)
79 G Hamerton (Eng)
80 M Olander (Swe), A Salto (Sp)
81 M Lundberg (Swe), K Brink (Swe)
Disq J Aker (Swe)

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