Swedes set their sights on home glory
August 14, 2018
It’s a week in which home grown stars have reason to be confident of success, and both Alexander Björk and Joakim Lagergren have arrived at the Nordea Masters in good spirits after sealing their maiden European Tour wins earlier in the season.
- Getty Images
Swedes have an outstanding record at this tournament, with the seven titles captured by Jesper Parnevik (1995 and 1998), Joakim Haeggman (1997), Peter Hanson (2008), Richard S Johnson (2010) and Alex Noren (2011 and 2015) creating the record for most Swedish victories in the same European Tour event.
For Björk and Lagergren, victory at Hills Golf Club in Gothenburg - which is hosting the Nordea Masters for the first time - would add gloss to a season in which they lifted trophies at the Volvo China Open and Rocco Forte Sicilian Open respectively.
“The first victory on the European Tour felt really big and it was also a real boost for my self confidence and my career," said Björk.
“I was pretty calm the last round of the Volvo China Open, got quite excited in the end and you can feel the pulse increasing. Than you have to try to stay calm, walk a bit slower and try to rest your mind."
“I am not very happy about how I have played lately in the States. It's fun with big tournaments and loads of spectators but I get a little disappointed when I can't play well. But I really do think that when I am on top of my game I can be on top of leaderboards."
“I need to be on top of my game this week so a lot of rest and good practice to be ready on Thursday when it all starts.”
Although there are similarities to the early part of their seasons, their preparations for their home event have been markedly different. Lagergren has enjoyed four weeks off after a positive fortnight on the Rolex Series, finishing tied 12 th at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation and tied 23 rd at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. Meanwhile Björk arrives in Gothenburg after an intense two-week period in the United States, making his debut in both the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship.
“It's great to be back on home soil and play in front of a Swedish crowd, family and friends," said Lagergren. "Sometimes you want a bit too much and you might put too much pressure on yourself because you are home. I always want to play well so it's important to find a good level of play."
"I last played in the Scottish Open, I played well and have had three weeks of vacation. I trained for a week before now so I'm getting more comfortable every day."
“It was a really special feeling winning in Italy. It's hard to describe because there were so many emotions. It's been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I think I was 12 or 13 when I set a goal that an ET win was as high as you could get.”
Despite the positive omens, the Swedes will have some stiff opposition this week as they go up against a field that includes Major winner Martin Kaymer of Germany and the in-form Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who finished tied fourth at this event last year and will also have one eye on the Ryder Cup points lists as the race to make the team for the 2018 event in Paris next month hots up.
Defending champion Renato Paratore of Italy became the youngest player ever to win the Nordea Masters last season aged 20 years and 172 days, and he is aiming to create more history by becoming the first player to win the event in consecutive years.