With just three weeks to go before the final places for the Ryder Cup are decided, the European Tour heads to Sweden for the SAS Masters. The players on the fringes of qualification have just three further tournaments to force their way into an automatic qualifying spot or to show captain Nick Faldo they have the form to earn one of his two “wild card” picks.
Formerly known as the Scandinavian Masters, this tournament has proved a happy hunting ground for British players over the years. Since 1991, the event has been one by golfers from the UK on 10 occasions. Most recently by Marc Warren in 2006.
Last season Mikko Ilonen from Finland took the title in dramatic style. With a birdie at the final hole, he snatched the title from Martin Kaymer.
20-year-old Chris Wood will make his professional debut in Stockholm. The young man from Bristol who won the Silver Medal as leading amateur at Royal Birkdale has accepted a sponsor’s invitation for the tournament. 2007 Silver Medal winner Rory McIlroy managed to win enough money from his sponsor’s invitations through the remainder of the season to earn his 2008 Tour Card with out a trip to Q-school, Wood will look to emulate that feat.
Venue: Arlandastad Golf, Stockholm, Sweden
Course stats: 6,835 yards, par 70
Purse: E1,600,000 Winner: E266,660
Defending Champion: Mikko Ilonen (-6)
Live on Sky Sports starting Thursday August 14
Robert Karlsson: The on-form Swede would love to win a tournament on home soil. A victory on the 2008 European Tour has proved elusive for the 38-year-old and this would be the perfect venue to right that statistic.
DJ Trahan: The American missed out on automatic qualification for the US Ryder Cup team by one spot. He’s accepted a sponsor’s invitation to play in Sweden and will be keen to put in a performance that makes Paul Azinger take note.
Martin Kaymer: Runner-up last year, Kaymer must produce good results over the next few weeks if he’s to tee it up at Valhalla. Look for a charge by the young German.
Key Hole: 17th. A par five of 568 yards with water down the left hand side. The longest hitters can reach in two but the green is protected by bunkers to the front left and right.
Skills Required: Course management – At only 6,835 yards this is one of the shorter courses on this year’s European Tour. But with well placed hazards (many at driving distance) the winner will have to plot his way carefully around the layout.