News All Articles
US PGA Championship 2024: Jesper Svensson relishing 'bonus' Major debut at Valhalla

US PGA Championship 2024: Jesper Svensson relishing 'bonus' Major debut at Valhalla

On the eve of playing in his maiden Major Championship at the U.S. PGA Championship, Jesper Svensson reflects on his achievements in the last year with great pride but also in the knowledge there is still so much more ahead of him.

“A year ago, I couldn’t have dreamt that I would be in my first Major,” he tells the DP World Tour from Upsala Golf Club in his native Sweden.

“My focus was just to get back on the Challenge Tour. To be in this position now is very fortunate. The journey over the past year has been incredible.”

As he says, Svensson has enjoyed a rise beyond his own expectations. This time last year he was ranked outside the top 700 on the Official World Golf Ranking, but he now finds himself just outside the top 100.

Jesper Svensson-2065129819
Jesper Svensson is one of seven Swedish players in the field for the US PGA Championship

When he tees it up on Thursday for the first round of the second men’s Major of the year at Valhalla Golf Club, it will be just five days shy of the one-year anniversary of his maiden Challenge Tour title in his first start of the 2023 campaign having opted to focus on the Nordic Golf League earlier in the year.

"I didn't have a very good season in 2022 and to turn things around this last year has been really rewarding," he says. "Everything that I have been working on has paid off."

Victory at last year’s B-NL Challenge Trophy in the Netherlands was the highlight of a stellar campaign on the Road to Mallorca that included five further top 10 finishes as he finished fifth in the season-long rankings to earn promotion to the DP World Tour.

While a rookie season on golf’s Global Tour can be daunting for many, Svensson has relished his new surroundings.

After finishing second in South Africa in December and Bahrain in February, the 28-year-old won on the DP World Tour at the Porsche Singapore Classic in March - a victory that saw him rise to a career-high 102nd in the world. The signs are that it is the first of many titles on the DP World Tour.

But first, he now has the chance to test his game on one of the biggest stages. And yet, this opportunity appeared to have alluded him when he finished fourth on the Asian Swing rankings after the culmination of last week’s Volvo China Open.

With Adrian Otaegui’s win in Shenzhen, the Spaniard pipped Svensson to third place by just 16.9 points on the Global Swing's mini order of merit. But just over a day later he was handed a lifeline with an invite from the PGA of America.

“When I was signing my card after the round, everyone was congratulating me, but I knew I wasn’t secure of a top three spot,” he reflects.

“Everyone said I still had a chance of getting in on Monday evening.”

Even before he received the invite, Svensson always saw the opportunity to tee it up in the US PGA Championship as a “bonus.”

In truth, it was well deserved. He sits third on the DP World Tour's season-long Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, with the possibility of earning PGA TOUR status by finishing among the top ten at the end of the campaign a distinct possibility.

And while the surroundings that await him this week are bigger than anything he is accustomed to, he is intent on taking it all in.

“I have never been to any event of this calibre,” he says.

“I am just going to enjoy the week and hopefully play some good golf. It’s going to be a great experience.”

With no experience of playing at Valhalla, Svensson comes into the event with a sense of freedom, something he hopes will enable to play to his best.

“I am going to try and do everything like I would do in a regular event, not put too much pressure, seeing as it has been working for me,” he adds.

“I know it is going to be hard, certainly with everything that comes around an event like a Major but that is the plan.”

Putting his performance aside for a moment, the event also provides the chance for Svensson to catch up with fellow Swedes who he knows from his amateur days.

He played alongside global star Ludvig Åberg in national amateur teams, winning the European Amateur Team Championship together in 2018, while two-time DP World Tour winner Vincent Normann is another who came through at the same time.

While still yet to fully contemplate his plans for practice round partners, it would be no surprise if he wasn’t alongside one or more of his six countrymen in the field over the coming days.

“A lot of people have reached out to wish me well for next week,” says Svensson, who leaves from Sweden for the United States on Saturday and intends to take in the surroundings of Valhalla for the first time on Sunday.

“It will certainly be fun to meet Vincent (Norrman), Tim (Widing) and Ludvig (Åberg) as well, all guys I played amateur golf with.”

Svensson won’t be short of support with family members and his fiancée Angelica also travelling out for this major milestone in his career.

“Obviously they are all very happy for me,” he says. “I am sure my parents are going to enjoy next week as much as I do.”

By Mathieu Wood

Read next