The European Tour, with the significant help of Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam, will break new ground this week at the Scandinavian Invitational. Here are your Five Things To Know about this innovate event taking place at Vallda Golf and Country Club.
This week’s event marks another step forward in the drive to create more equal opportunities in golf.
With the field comprising 78 men and 78 women battling out for the one trophy and one prize fund of €1,000,000, there will also be Official World Ranking points on offer for both Tours, plus Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup points for European Tour members, and Race to Costa del Sol and Solheim Cup points for the Ladies European Tour.
Players from the men’s and women’s game will tee it up in the same groups, practicing on the same facilities and sharing the same Players’ Lounge at Vallda.
Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam, described this week by Thomas Bjorn as “Swedish golf royalty”, co-host – the first time hosting duties for a European Tour event or Ladies European Tour event has been shared by a male and female.
Sorenstam is nothing short of an all-time legend in the women’s game, with a remarkable ten Major Championships and a total of 89 professional victories to her name, and she has already played tournament host at two separate events, on the LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour.
She tees it up on home soil this week for the first time in 13 years, having made the cut on her long-awaited return to action at the Gainbridge LPGA in the USA in February.
Stenson, meanwhile, also has a Major title under his belt having famously triumphed over Phil Mickelson to win The 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club. Stenson had already rubber-stamped his legendary status in the game, holing the winning putt at The 2006 Ryder Cup, his first of three wins with Team Europe in the greatest team in men’s golf, while winning the Rankings on the European Tour and PGA TOUR in 2013 - the first player to do so.
Sorenstam may not have played much golf of late but the 50-year-old is surely not to be discounted. She has already won twice at events she herself has hosted, in the 2005 and 2006 editions of the Scandinavian TPC hosted by Annika.
Stenson, meanwhile, has never won on home soil and is looking to be the first to do so on the European Tour since Alex Noren won the 2015 Scandinavian Masters, Stenson’s fellow 2018 Ryder Cup player winning his home event for the second time.
There hasn’t been a Swedish winner on the Race to Dubai since Sebastian Soderberg overcame Rory McIlroy, among others, to claim the 2019 Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
The field is packed with Swedes from both the men’s and women’s game so perhaps the host nation this week is due a victory?
Local rising stars
This event will also provide opportunities for some of the rising stars of the Swedish game, with four national amateurs receiving invites for this week.
Among them is Maja Stark, a 21-year-old who has been proving recently that she has a very bright future. She has been part of a winning European Girls Amateur Team Championship-winning side while also playing a starring role in three successive victories for the Swedish team in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 European Ladies Amateur Championships.
She also gained a place in the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open thanks to her sixth place standing in the World Amateur Golf Rank, duly finishing in an incredible 13th position at Champions Golf Club in Texas in her maiden Major appearance.
Her fellow invite Linn Grant won the 2017 Ladies' British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship and launched herself into the limelight at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2018 where she was in contention heading into the weekend.
Ludvig Åberg, meanwhile, has already won twice on the Nordic Golf League despite still holding amateur status. He rose to the top of the European Amateur Golf Ranking and has also played on the PGA TOUR.
This is the first time the European Tour visits Vallda Golf Club, in the Kingsbacka Municipality outside of Gothenburg.
The Martin Hawtree-designed course was completed in 2009, drawing inspiration from the British courses of the 1920s. The 7,060-yard heathland will provide a stern challenge this week for the players of the European Tour and Ladies European Tour.