A trio of Swedish players who head the field at this week’s Helsingborg Open are all hoping to win on home soil for the first time this weekend.
Solheim Cup star Caroline Hedwall, vice-captain Maria McBride and Pernilla Lindberg are among the 21 players from Sweden in a field of 126 competitors teeing up at Vasatorps Golf Club from Thursday, along with Camilla Lennarth, who won last year’s Slovak Open.
It’s been nine years since a home player has won a Ladies European Tour event in Sweden, when Solheim Cup vice-captain Annika Sorenstam won her sixth Swedish LET title at the 2006 Scandinavian TPC hosted by Annika. Various Swedish competitors have won at home, including fellow 2015 vice-captain Sophie Gustafson at the 2003 HP Open and current European Captain Carin Koch at the 2000 Chrysler Open. In fact, McBride is the only current European Solheim Cup captain who hasn’t triumphed in front of a home audience and she would like to change that.
“I’m looking forward to this week and I’ve never won an event in Sweden so it’s something I would really like,” said McBride, a five-time European Solheim Cup team participant with seven career titles on the LET and LPGA tours. The world number 95 continued: “Even if I play really well, someone else could play better, so I’ll just try to give myself a chance and see how far I can go.”
On her season so far, which included a 12th place finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, where she shot a second round of 66 in extreme weather conditions, she said: “I feel very good about my game right now because it’s been very consistent. At the beginning of the year I didn’t get into a lot of events because of my (LPGA) status. I had a fourth place finish in Texas and from then on I’ve moved along. I’ve been playing solid and I’m hitting it well off the tee, putting the ball in play.”
Hedwall, who finished second a stroke behind Rebecca Artis at Vasatorps Golf Club in 2013, is hoping to put in a sparkling performance ahead of her third Solheim Cup appearance in Germany in a fortnight. The world number 107, who lives in Helsingborg, commented: “I’m hitting the ball well. And I’m holing loads of putts on the practice green. It’s all about trusting it when I get out on the course and avoid the negative thoughts I’ve been having, when I start seeing misses instead. You want to play well so bad, but then it just doesn’t click. When you are striping it on the range and then can’t put it together, it’s obviously very frustrating. It’s great to be back home. I’m looking forward playing in front of my home crowd and I have good vibes around this place. I like the course, so maybe that can help me put four good rounds together.”
Lindberg is the highest ranked player in the field at 83rd in the world and she is looking for her maiden win after a consistent year in the United States. She said: “It feels so nice to be home. I don’t get to go back to Sweden too much anymore and to be able to play in front of the Swedish crowds means a little bit extra. I might not have had the best preparation as I flew in from the US last week but having the Swedish crowds out there and playing in front of them gives me a bit of extra energy.”
Meanwhile Lennarth is also hoping to excite the home galleries and she said: “I’m very excited. I always look forward to this event and I went to high school here so it feels like my second home. I have some minor process expectations and things that I want to achieve. I haven’t had the year I wanted so far as I started with high expectations that didn’t work out so I’m trying to build up the confidence. Putting has been the main issue, so I’m thinking about my routine and the way I’m thinking.”
Of the other notable Swedish players, Johanna Bjork will be one to watch as she is playing at her home course, but Dewi-Claire Schreefel from the Netherlands will looking to defend the title she won by seven strokes from the Australian 2013 champion Rebecca Artis last year.