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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed (2023)

The one-of-it’s-kind Volvo Car Scandinavian Open is back for its third installment. The event is to be held at the Ullna Golf & Club that sits just 30-minutes outside of the Swedish capital of Stockholm.

The event was first staged in 2021 and sees 78 men and 78 women compete on the same course for one prize fund and one trophy. It should go without mentioning that the men play from the men’s tee and the women play from the women’s tees.

It is hosted by ten-time Major Champion Annika Sorenstam and is co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour.

This event replaced the now non-existent Scandinavian Masters which was played from 1991 to just two years ago.

The Course

Ullna Golf Club sits on the banks of the lake that shares its name; Lake Ullna. The lake comes into play on several holes throughout the course.

It was first opened in 1981 and was redesigned by non-other than Jack Nicklaus in 2013 to “modernize” the track.

Nicklaus’ redesign turned the fairly flat topography of the course into a more rolling landscape that allows for Lake Ullna and its numerous streams to come into play on almost every hole.

In the redesign, bunkers and greens areas alike were rearranged and redesigned. Small ditches that were featured were converted into wandering streams. Ponds too were expanded and a state-of-the-art irrigation and draining system was installed.

The fairways were sandscapped as well and the greens were seeded with the highlight acclaimed “supergrass” creeping bent 007.

The course plays as a par-72 at 6,819-yards for the men and 6,067 for the women.

With the course playing under 7,000 yards, distance off the tee will not be of the importance this week but accuracy will be.

As previously mentioned, the landscape was contoured in a way to play off the Ullna Lake with hazards littered across the course. Being able to place the ball where needed opposed to as far as possible, will be of the advantage.

The fairways too are tree-lined and narrow, which sets up the need for finding the fairway as well.

There are an assortment of very challenging holes featured this week, most notably the par-three fifth which is played on to an island green.

The course was originally designed by Sven Tumba and opened in 1981. It was the venue of the now defunct Scandinavian Enterprise Open that was played between 1983 and 1987.

The Field

As already touched on, the field this week is equally split between men and women with 78 each.

The groupings will be mixed over the first two days until the cut that is set at the top-65 plus ties heading into the weekend.

Linn Grant is the defending champion of the event who won by a staggering nine strokes a year ago. Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell won the inaugural event in 2021.

Grant, of course, was the first female to win the event and was the only woman to place in the top 14 with England’s Gabriella Cowley finishing T15 as the second place female.

Grant is joined by fellow Swede and 10-time DP World Tour winner in Alex Noren as both are homeland favorites and outright favorites to claim the third title of this one-of-a-kind event.

A spot on Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team continues to be the motivation for several of the European based golfers in this event. No more notable than Scotland’s Robert MacIntye.

Noren too is looking for a strong performance on home soil to secure a spot in this fall’s squad in Italy.

The Weather

Highs will range from the low-to-mid 60-degrees this week with Sunday currently boasting the highest temperature at 67-degrees. There is no chance of precipitation this week as well at the time of writing this. Winds will be a factor, especially with the course sitting on Lake Ullna. Winds are currently set at 11 miles-per-hour through 14 miles-per-hour as of the time of writing this.

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)

  • Driving Accuracy

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Birdie or Better Percentage

  • Sand Saves Percentage

Betting Favorites

Linn Grant (+1400)

The defending champion who won a year ago by nine strokes isn’t the favorite to win this week and I’m not sure why. In Linn’s last outing on the LPGA Tour, she placed third at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards. Linn didn’t shoot over 68 in either of the four rounds a year ago. She is the defending 2022 LPGA Rookie of the Year as well. It’ll be hard to replicate what she did a year ago but coming back on home soil should keep her motivated.

Alexander Bjork (+1600)

Bjork let me down a week ago as he headed into Sunday with a share of the lead at the Porsche European Open before shooting a final round at plus-two and ultimately placing T6th. Bjork is currently the Tour’s best when it comes to bogey avoidance. He is also seventh in driving accuracy, ninth in SG: APP, 11th in SG: PUTT, 24th in SG: TTG and 51st in birdie or better percentage. His downfall is a 122nd placement in sand saves percentage but the rest of his game will carry him this week. Dating back to his first tournament on the DP World Tour’s Europe swing, he has placed fourth at the DS Automobiles Italian Open, T4th at the Soudal Open, 29th at the KLM Open and of course, a T6th a week ago. He’s one of the hottest golfers on Tour currently and it’s a matter of time before he gets into the win column.

Joost Luiten (+3000)

This just seems like the type of event and course that Luiten will thrive on. He lacks the distance off the tee to keep up with the younger players, but with this course playing under 7,000 yards, his above average approach play and driving accuracy should help elevate him. He’s currently 14th on Tour in bogey avoidance, 15th in driving accuracy, 21st in SG: TTG, 35th in birdie or better percentage, 38th in SG: PUTT, 45th in sand saves percentage and 48th in SG: APP. Luiten has made nine consecutive cuts dating back to the Thailand Classic entering this week. He placed T22nd a week ago at the Porsche European Open. In those nine consecutive made cuts, Luiten has six top 25s, four top tens and three top fives.

Ewen Ferguson (+3500)

I’m really high on Ferguson this week. He’s currently sixth on Tour in bogey avoidance, 15th in sand saves percentage, 19th in SG: APP, 27th in SG: TTG, 40th in driving accuracy, 74th in birdie or better percentage and 79th in SG: PUTT. He’ll have to catch a hot flat stick this week to be competitive but I believe with how the rest of his game is, he’ll be just fine. The Scotsman has had some quality performances as of late, including a T14th at last week’s Porsche European Open and T8th at the KLM Open. He also has results such as T3rd at the SDC Championship and T4th at the Jonsson Workwear Open back in March.

Julien Brun (+5500)

Brun is a constant in this series as he’s a rather well rounded golfer who checks a lot of boxes and therefore pops in our models. He’s currently fifth on Tour in bogey avoidance, 13th in SG: APP, 14th in SG: PUTT, 41st in sand saves percentage, 55th in birdie or better percentage, 63rd in SG: TTG and 113th in driving accuracy. Brun has made eight consecutive cuts coming into this week dating back to the Singapore Classic in February. His season has been highlighted by a third place finish at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, a fifth place finish at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic and a T7th at the Magical Kenya Open.

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