Joost Luiten was delighted to keep pace with his female playing partners as he, Pia Babnik and Caroline Hedwall made up a brilliant three ball on day two of the 2021 Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika.
Having both carded rounds of 67 on day one at Vallda Golf and Country Club, Hedwall and Luiten found another gear on Friday, with the home favourite posting a 64 with two eagles to hit the front at 13 under.
Luiten stayed bogey free for the week with a 65 that left him one back, while teenage sensation Babnik followed up an opening 68 with a 66.
Setting up a course fairly for a mixed field can be a challenge but the mix of men and women at the top of the leaderboard suggests tournament organisers have got it just right, and Dutchman Luiten was enjoying being in a mixed group.
"These girls were playing great," he said. "They hit it a long way, I think they hit it as long as me, so they could really take some holes on, and they took advantage of it.
"They were making a lot of birdies, Caroline had two eagles as well, that really helps. I tried to keep up with them and I managed to do that.
"What I do is focus on myself, there’s nothing else I can do. I just need to put in a score myself and then I'll see where that puts me on the leaderboard compared to the men and the women. I think that’s the key.
"It was a bit of getting used to it because I was the only man in the group, so it was a bit of a different rhythm, but it makes it fun to play different formats and it’s fun to see the girls as well. They really crushed the ball; well, you see that in the scores."
Luiten is searching for a seventh European Tour title in Gothenburg and believes he will have a good chance if he can keep the putter warm.
"I’m hitting the ball well off the tee, hitting good iron shots, not missing many greens, putter was pretty good today," he said.
"Yesterday I felt like I left a couple too many out there, but I feel if you hit the greens here you have some chances. The greens aren’t really quick so you can be pretty aggressive with the putts and I managed to make a couple."
Babnik arrived in Sweden fresh off her maiden Ladies European Tour victory and should she make it back to back wins, the 17-year-old will become the youngest winner in European Tour history.
But the Slovenian was keeping her feet firmly on the ground.
“It was great to play with Joost and Caroline, we all played really well, and I really enjoyed it," she said.
"After my win, I’m trying to take this as a new competition and pretend like nothing happened.
"I will try to play well over the weekend, like I did these past two days, and we will see what happens.”