The European Tour heads for Sweden this week and the 24th edition of the Nordea Masters. Finland’s Mikko Ilonen defends the title at PGA Sweden National in Malmo.

Lowdown:
The European Tour heads for Sweden this week and the 24th edition of the Nordea Masters. Finland’s Mikko Ilonen defends the title at PGA Sweden National in Malmo.

A strong field has assembled and the home nation will be well represented with World Number 2 Henrik Stenson and the on-form Jonas Blixt leading the charge.

Other notable players in the field include: Thomas Bjorn, looking to bounce back from a disappointing final round at Wentworth last week; Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher aiming to move up towards an automatic qualifying spot for September’s Ryder Cup; and Miguel Angel Jimenez, the evergreen Spaniard harbouring similar ambitions.

First contested on the European Tour in 1991, newly crowned US Senior PGA Champion Colin Montgomerie was the inaugural winner of the Nordea Masters, then called the Scandinavian Masters. Since then there have been many notable victors, including Nick Faldo, Lee Westood, Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott and Luke Donald.

Last year at Bro Hoff Slott Golf Club, Mikko Ilonen produced four superb rounds to hold off the challenge of home player Jonas Blixt. The Finnish golfer won by three shots, posting a four-round total of 21-under-par.

The tournament will be contested over PGA Sweden National’s Lakes Course. Opened for play in 2010 it’s a superb Kyle Phillips design featuring large bunkers and water hazards. The fairways and greens are populated with natural creeping bent grasses. It’s the first time this venue has been used for the tournament.

The weather forecast for the week looks reasonable with only a vague chance of some showers. Temperatures should be in the mid teens centigrade with a moderate breeze.

Venue: PGA Sweden National, Malmo, Sweden
Date: May 29 – Jun 1
Purse: €1,500,000 Winner: €250,000
Defending Champion: Mikko Ilonen (-21)

TV Coverage:

Thursday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
Friday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
Saturday 31 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm
Sunday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm

Player Watch:
Jonas Blixt – Second in this event last year, the Swede is proving himself to be a world-class player. He had a decent showing at Wentworth last week and was runner-up in this year’s U.S. Masters.

Shane Lowry – Runner-up last week in the BMW PGA Championship, Lowry showed some excellent form and a superb touch around the greens. He also won sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, held at Walton Heath on Monday. Look for him to feature again this week.

Marcel Siem – Siem could have won last week at Wentworth if he’d kept the errors of his cards. He finished bogey, double bogey on day one and suffered two double bogeys on day two. If he can clean up his act, he could be a factor in Sweden.

Key hole: 18th. A par-5 that can be stretched to over 600 yards, this is a classic finishing hole. Water waits all down the left side and a cleverly placed bunker at driving distance will add to the threat. The very longest hitters will be able to reach in two if the wind is favourable, but for most, if the tees are right back, it will be three shots.