Following a 40/1 winner at the weekend, our expert tipster Jamie Worsley is back for this unique co-sanctioned DP World/LET Tour event, the Scandinavian Mixed. He has his usual hefty preview, as well as six selections.
Scandinavian Mixed 2023 Tips
- 1.25 pts Yannik Paul each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 33/1
- 1 pt Sebastian Soderberg each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 55/1
- 1 pt Julien Brun each way (1/5 – 7 places) – 55/1
- 1 pt Connor Syme each way (1/5 – 7 places) – 60/1
- 1 pt Klara Davidson Spilkova each way (1/5 – 7 places) – 55/1
- 0.75 pts Caroline Hedwall each way (1/5 – 7 places) – 125/1
This week’s European offering takes us to Sweden, as players of both the DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour head to Ullna G&CC for the third edition of the Scandinavian Mixed.
First held in 2021, the Scandinavian Mixed is the only event with DP World Tour status that sees men and women compete alongside each other, vying for the same spot atop the leaderboard.
Though becoming more common, with similar events held in Australia and Thailand over recent years, this progressive format is still in its infancy and finding that equilibrium that enables LET players to compete on a level playing field hasn’t been easy, nor will it continue to be. However, the tournament has been an undoubted success in my eyes over the past two years.
Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell won the first edition of the event in 2021, flying through the field with an impressive final-round 64 to deny Adrian Otaegui by a shot.
Alice Hewson was the highest finishing female player in 3rd and one of two to finish inside the top 10 alongside Olivia Cowan in 10th. Though that doesn’t quite tell the full story.
Entering that final round in 2021, tied at the top were two players from the LET: 3rd-place finisher Hewson and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall. Whilst Hewson was able to sustain her challenge and achieve a quality finish, Hedwall – who had also led at the halfway point – succumbed to a final-round 76 to send her hurtling down the leaderboard, possibly suffering from nerves due to the magnitude of what she may achieve.
Though the final leaderboard was DP World Tour heavy, there is no denying the LET players had their chances throughout the week and my belief was as this event continues to grow, we’d eventually see successors from both tours.
We didn’t have to wait long for this to come to fruition, as last year star-Swede, Linn Grant absolutely annihilated the field in one of, if not the performance of the year anywhere in the game. Entering the final round with a two-shot lead she proceeded to birdie five of her opening six holes, helping her on her way to a closing 8-under 64 and a 9-stroke success over Henrik Stenson and Marc Warren.
The nature of her success caused some to insinuate that the course must’ve been too favourable for her to win so emphatically, however, despite some other strong female performers over the opening two days, the final leaderboard was more DPWT-dominated than the previous year. We have to go down to Gabriella Cowley in 15th for the next-best LET contender, finishing a whole 14-shots behind Grant in the end. This was just a case of an outstanding talent producing an elite golfing performance.
Though so far ahead of the rest and with overall signs that the perfect balance needed hasn’t quite been struck in the event yet, Grant’s performance last year won’t just act as inspiration for her, as she goes for a repeat bid this week but will have hopefully inspired many of her LET colleagues towards their own achievements in this year’s renewal.
Men’s yardage (as listed on DP World Tour website): 6819-yard par 72
Women’s yardage (as listed on Ladies European Tour website): 6067-yard par 72
Ullna Golf & Country Club provides us with our third different host venue in as many years of the Scandinavian Invitational this week, returning to DPWT use after a 30+ year absence; though as a different course following Jack Nicklaus’ renovation in 2013.
Whilst both courses remain short by each tour’s respective standards, I’m surprised by the yardages this year. The 752-yard difference between the two setups is the smallest of the three renewals so far. It’s comfortably the shortest course the men have played, with the previous two at 7060 and 7001 yards, whilst it’s over 100 yards longer than last year for the women.
If this is indeed a reaction to Grant’s impressive success last year, I believe they’ve got it wrong. As mentioned, she was the lone LET player at the top of the leaderboard there and her win was more about anomalistic excellence than the course setup being weighted in her favour.
Situated on the shore of Lake Ullna, the course meanders through gently formed hills. The holes combine both tree-lined and more exposed designs, whilst water is the prevailing feature; in-play on fifteen holes, eight of which hug the lake and would cause havoc should any wind arrive.
Aside from a couple of tighter driving holes, the fairways are largely generous, with water and strategically placed bunkers the primary protectors.
The firm, undulating greens range from small-average sized and are said to be some of the best-kept in Sweden; possessing run-off areas and bunkering (as well as more of that water) for protection.
Though watery danger is plentiful, and the greens offer their own challenges, it’s hard not to see all players scoring well this week if weather permits. Use of driver will be null and void throughout much of the course, which should help in avoiding those dangers and those making use of their skills from there on in, on a bounty of holes shorter than they would typically play, should fare best.
- SG: Approach
- SG: Putting/Putting Average
- Par 5 Scoring
I expect strong iron play to be key this week. Fairways shouldn’t be all that difficult to find and with some relatively small, well-protected greens, precision approach play into them will be important in avoiding the biggest dangers and taking care of the scoring opportunities.
You will need to match that with some quality short-game skills, particularly on the firm greens but also, with the potential for challenging winds, I’m keen to factor in some level of scrambling.
Finally, anything less than birdies on the par 5s in particular is going to have you feeling like you’re leaking shots to the rest of the field; therefore, prolific par 5 scoring throughout the week looks a must.
There is forecast to be a mild breeze blowing throughout the week, potentially gusting up to 48kmh on Thursday. This softens as the week goes on though, whilst the low temperatures aren’t too much of a concern on a course so short. Ultimately, unless those gusts are a more constant feature, I don’t expect conditions to impact the event too much.
The field is split evenly with 78 players from both the DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour. Defending champion, Linn Grant is the highest ranked player in the field this week across both tours, at #22 in the world, whilst fellow Swede, Madelene Sagstrom joins in this home event, stepping out from LPGA action.
Czechia’s Klara Davidson Spilkova and Spain’s Ana Pelaez are the only other two players from the ladies’ side who are in the top 100; meanwhile Ingrid Lindblad, who is now the top ranked amateur in the world following Rose Zhang turning pro, is once again in attendance.
Alex Noren heads up the men’s challenge, joined by Adri Arnaus, Robert MacIntyre and Callum Shinkwin from inside the top 100, whilst home favourite, Alexander Bjork will be looking to continue his recent excellent form to win a national title this week.
Alex Noren heads the betting at 12/1, followed by Linn Grant and Alexander Bjork at 14/1. Grant would appeal most of this leading trio, having won just three starts ago and reached the semi-final stage of the LPGA Match-Play on her last start. In contrast, Noren hasn’t been in the best of form of late and Bjork is in great form, he’s a player who finds it tough getting over the line, so is hard to trust at such a short price.
I think with that narrowing of the course lengths this year, you have to favour the DP World Tour players and whilst I like a couple of the LET contingent at large prices, my main selections this week start on the DP World Tour, with Germany’s Yannik Paul.
1.25 pts Yannik Paul each way (1/5 – 8 places)
Paul has found himself drifting out in price this week to a number we haven’t seen for weeks on the DPWT. This a reaction to his last couple of finishes, where he was 69th in the PGA Championship and 66th last week in the European Open. However, prior to that, his form had been excellent and I’m taking him to bounce back at a course where his high-quality approach play can take him a long way.
The German had started the season a little slowly but burst into action seven weeks ago in Thailand, finishing 2nd, following that with another runner-up finish next-time-out in the Indian Open and then was 6th in Japan in the ISPS Handa Championship. Whilst he was solid enough when 38th in Korea and 23rd in Italy in the two events before he headed stateside for the PGA Championship.
His excellent approach play has engineered his best results this year, an area he ranks 4th on the DP World Tour. In addition to that he ranks 12th in GIR and 23rd in scrambling, which will be extremely helpful if wind does indeed play a part this week.
Paul has often looked most at home on shorter courses. A 2nd place finish in the Soudal Open last year is a nice piece of form, though I particularly like his solo DPWT victory to date, which came in Mallorca last year on a similarly short, generous-driving course and should help in making him comfortable in his surrounds this week.
1 pt Sebastian Soderberg each way (1/5 – 8 places)
Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg is typically an all-or-nothing player but with huge promise on show two starts ago when 9th in Italy – where he was the 5th-best player tee-to-green – I’m taking him to go well at home this week.
That was Soderberg’s third top 10 of the season, following him finishing 2nd in Abu Dhabi on his first start of the year and another 9th in the Jonsson Workwear Open in South Africa.
Though not quite as good as in Italy, there was little wrong with his game two weeks ago in the KLM Open when finishing 48th and he looks a player who has his game in a good place. Approach and around-the-greens work looking like his most productive areas so far this year, whilst he also ranks 5th in par 5 scoring on tour.
Soderberg’s win in the European Masters in 2019 at Crans-sur-Sierre shows what he can do on shorter courses, as do runner-up finishes at Valderrama and in Mallorca in 2021. If keeping up the T2G quality of recent performance he can have a big week.
1 pt Julien Brun each way (1/5 – 7 places)
We’re back on Julien Brun this week. His form continues to impress and with the weakness of his driving game not likely to be exposed on a course where he can leave it in the bag, this looks another good chance for the Frenchman to pick up his breakthrough DPWT victory.
Brun hasn’t missed a cut in has last eight starts and only once over that time has he not finished inside the top 30. Most recently he’s finished 29th in the KLM Open and Porsche European Open; both times looking excellent in approach. This no surprise for a player who ranks 13th in approach for the year and 23rd in GIR.
The short game has also looked good, this again of little surprise, as he ranks 14th on the greens and 40th in scrambling this year; his statistical profile making him a good fit for how I think this test will play out.
A couple of performances on shorter setups standout, most recent of which was a 15th in the Soudal Open a few starts ago. His victory on the Challenge Tour in 2021 in the Open de Bretagne offers further encouragement, as a short course that mixes exposed and tree-lined holes, much like this week’s challenge.
1 pt Connor Syme each way (1/5 – 7 places)
I’m going to give Connor Syme another try after he narrowly missed out on a place when 10th for us in Germany last week. That represented his best finish of the year so far and if able to replicate the quality of putting he showed there (ranking 6th in the field) and return to some of the better approach play he’s shown earlier in the year, he can go even better this week.
As mentioned last week, despite rarely threatening the top of the leaderboard this year, Syme’s game hadn’t been all that far away, with just one missed cut in twelve events so far in 2023, including that 10th in the European Open.
All areas of his game have looked solid, as he ranks top 40 both in approach and GIR; 55th on the greens and 64th in scrambling. We have just been waiting for that week where one area spikes and that’s what we got with that high-quality putting display last week. Solidity is also something he possesses with driver, where he is accurate and about average length.
Syme has shown himself a player capable of staying hot when he finds a higher level of form, something on show in his consecutive 2nd place finishes in Wales and Northern Ireland last year. With plenty of form on similarly short courses, including that runner-up finish in Northern Ireland, as well as strong efforts at Valderrama and in Kenya, he can go well.
1 pt Klara Davidson Spilkova each way (1/5 – 7 places)
I’m going to finish with a couple of nicely priced players from the LET, starting with Klara Davidson Spilkova. The Czech golfer has been in excellent form this year, with a top-notch ball-striking game and quality on the greens she looks set for a strong performance this week.
Spilkova recorded her first LET win in five years in the Irish Open towards the end of last year and has kept that form running into 2023. Following a 40th place finish in the Saudi International on her first start of the year, Spilkova has finished outside the top 6 just once in her next six starts; the best result a 2nd in the Aramco Series – Florida behind Carlota Ciganda two starts ago on a leaderboard that included Lydia Ko just in behind.
Splikova ranks 11th in GIR this season on the LET, as well as top 25 in driving accuracy. Complimenting this as the 34th ranked putter and coming into this week off-the-back of a 4th place finish in Sweden last week, she should be raring to go for a strong debut effort in this mixed event.
0.75 pts Caroline Hedwall each way (1/5 – 7 places)
I’ll sign off with seven-time LET winner Caroline Hedwall. Her form has been steadily improving this year and having performed with credit in both previous editions of this event, looks as well placed as most to go well here.
The latest of Hedwall’s seven wins – and first for four years – came in the final event of 2022: the Open de Espana. She was a little slow to get going this year, missing her first two cuts but has steadily improved since, with finishes of 53rd and 28th in the two Aramco Series events, before recording her best finish of the year last week, when 5th in the Helsingborg Open.
Though struggling with driver, Hedwall hits greens for fun, ranking 6th, 7th and 13th in three of the last four seasons on the LET in GIR, whilst is currently 14th this season.
She can use this ability to put up another good performance in this event, with that aforementioned 18th place finish in 2021 followed up by a 29th place finish last year, and hopefully if able to get in the mix this week, she can use her negative finishing experience from 2021 as motivation this year.