Jonas Blixt and Peter Hanson will aim to continue Sweden’s recent success story in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf when they line up at Royal Melbourne Golf Club this week.
Swedes have won the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf on two previous occasions, most recently in 2008 when Robert Karlsson and man-of-the-moment Henrik Stenson teamed up to beat Spain by three shots at Mission Hills Golf Club, in China.
The same pairing came mightily close to successfully defending their title the following year, only to fall one shot short of the Italian duo of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari.
This year, Sweden will be represented for the first time by debutant Blixt and Hanson, whose only previous appearance in the US €8million competition came in 2007, when he and Karlsson finished in a tie for sixth place.
Hanson’s season has been blighted by a back injury but he made an impressive comeback after a two-month absence at the BMW Masters, where he closed with a round of 63 to finish in a tie for eighth place. It was his fourth top ten finish on The European Tour in 2013.
Blixt, meanwhile, has played predominantly on the US PGA Tour this season, winning The Greenbrier Classic by two shots after closing with a round of 67, and finishing 29th in The FedEx Cup.
“I’m looking forward to representing Sweden,” said Blixt. “I never had the chance to play for my country at amateur level, so it will be a real honour for me.
“The Swedes have enjoyed some success in the tournament in the past, so I hope we can keep that winning mentality going. I know there is a slightly different format this year, so it will be new even for the guys who have played before.
“For the last couple of years you went out there as a team, but this time round it is more like a regular event. I never played under the old format so I can’t really compare the two, but what I do know is that I’m really looking forward to it.”
Blixt arrived in Melbourne on the back of a 12th place finish behind his compatriot Stenson in Dubai last week.
The 29 year old has taken up European Tour Membership for 2014, with a view to trying to qualify for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
With World Ranking points available this week for the first time since the 1999 World Cup of Golf, a strong finish would do Blixt’s chances of making captain Paul McGinley’s side no harm at all.
He said: “I feel my game is coming together nicely, so hopefully I can make a few putts and me and Peter can both contend for the title.
“It’ll be my second visit to Melbourne – the first time was around five years ago when I was playing on the Nationwide Tour, and I stayed in the city for around a week before gaining my US visa.
“Royal Melbourne is a great venue and the course is usually in really good shape, so I couldn’t be happier that the tournament is being held here. I’m excited, it should be a great week.”