Newly crowned Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen takes his Major celebrations to Sweden when, four days after picking up the Claret Jug at St Andrews, he headlines the field in the Nordea Scandinavian Masters.
It was a truly memorable triumph at the Home of Golf by the 27 year old South African, who, only four months ago, celebrated his maiden European Tour victory. Now Oosthuizen tees up in Sweden as a Major Champion.
“The people at the Nordea Scandinavian Masters were good enough to offer me an invitation to play and I want to honour that for them,” he said. “I have enjoyed playing in Sweden in the past and I am really looking forward to going there as the Open Champion.”
John Daly was the last man to play in a European Tour event the week following a victory in The Open Championship, coincidentally that also coming after a triumph at St Andrews in 1995. That year Daly went on to play in the Dutch Open at Hilversumsche Golf Club – and 15 years later Oosthuizen will take his talents to Bro Hof Slott on the outskirts of Stockholm.
While the traditionally fervent Swedish spectators will flock to acclaim golf’s newest Major winner, there is a strong international field assembled alongside him for the fans to enjoy, led by defending champion Ricardo Gonzalez who will look to bring his renowned big-hitting to the fore once again.
The powerful 40 year old Argentine claimed his fourth European Tour crown at Barsebåck Golf and Country Club near Malmö 12 months ago when a storming finish – which included holing a bunker shot at the 71st hole – saw him pip Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
At 7,665 yards, the Barsebåck course was the longest used for a European Tour event in Continental Europe and although not quite as demanding as that, the first visit to Bro Hof Slott will nevertheless see the field have to tackle a layout which measures some 7,551 yards.
“My win in Sweden last year was very special,” said Gonzalez. “It had been 20 years since I first played in the country and it was also five years since I had won on The European Tour in the Open de Sevilla in 2004. To win again that week made me very happy indeed.
“To be honest, this year I'm in a similar situation to how I was before I travelled to Malmö last year. I've not been playing that well on Tour but I get good feelings going back to Sweden and I have great expectations that I can repeat my success.”
Also teeing up at Bro Hoff Slott will be England’s Simon Khan, winner of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in May and Edoardo Molinari of Italy who claimed The Barclays Scottish Open title at Loch Lomond two weeks ago but, naturally, there will also be a strong home Swedish presence looking to give the country its fifth title success in this, the 20th staging of the tournament.
Since the inaugural event in 1991, victories have been claimed by Jesper Parnevik on two occasions (Barsebåck in 1995 and Kungsängen in 1998) and Joakim Haeggman at Barsebåck in 1997, while the last Swedish triumph came via Peter Hanson at Arlandastad Golf two years ago.
“That was a huge win for me,” said Hanson, who has tasted success already in 2010 when he won the Iberdrola Open Cala Millor Mallorca in May. “It was one of those childhood dreams to win that tournament.
“I remember going to the event as a kid to try and get the autographs of the top players of that era and I even remember one year shining the shoes of the players in the locker room. So, to go from that to actually winning, was really something.
“It is a tournament that every Swedish player wants to win and I was delighted when I finally managed to do that. It was a hard week and I remember the course was playing very tough but I managed to squeeze through by a shot from Pelle Edberg and Nick Dougherty.
“I haven’t played at Bro Hof Slott but I’ve heard a lot about of good things about it so I’m very much looking forward to going up there because I feel I’m in good form and I’ve been happy about my game for some time. Obviously I won a couple of months ago and it would be great to repeat that form at home.”