In a thrilling final day’s action at the Nordea Masters, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee came through a three-way play-off to seal his sixth European Tour title.
After carding a seven-under-par 65 to hold the clubhouse lead at 16 under, Jaidee had to wait for the remaining four groups to finish as Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher matched his score.
Several players had their chance at victory, but it was the 44-year-old that emerged victorious in the end, as the final leaderboard shows:
|Place||Player||Nationality||To Par||Sunday's Round|
Jaidee rather snuck under the radar with his closing 65, having not been in out-and-out contention throughout the weekend.
With six birdies and an eagle on his card, the Thai reflected on a good day’s work following his round—per European Tour:
I worked hard today. I started with three birdies in a row, had another one on six, then a good comeback on 11 [where he made an eagle three]. We were nervous the last few holes—16, 17 and 18 are tough holes—but 16 under was good enough for a play-off. The golf course is wide open, you have to hit good golf shots and the weather helped a little bit.
In the play-off, Jaidee needed just one hole to secure the championship at the expense of Dubuisson and Gallacher, tapping in for a birdie on the 18th with his rivals in for par.
Frenchman Dubuisson himself would have won their tournament with two putts on the last, but three-putted to finish on the 18 under total and fall to Jaidee’s brilliance.
Home favourite Henrik Stenson, playing in the final group with Eddie Pepperell, also had his chance after finding birdies in three of his first five holes. However, four costly bogies meant that the Swede had to settle for fifth place.
A third birdie in the opening five holes for @henrikstenson means the Swede now has a two shot lead over Gallacher and Pepperell— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) June 1, 2014
The home crowd did have something to cheer, though, with Robert Karlsson putting together the low round of the day with a course-record-equalling nine-under-par 63.
Seven birdies and an eagle without a single blemish on the card saw Karlsson hit the record total and record a top-10 finish, placed in a tie for sixth.
After flirting with the water on the last it is course record equalling 63 for @robertkarlsson— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) June 1, 2014
However, it was Jaidee’s day at the PGA Sweden National, gaining some crucial momentum ahead of next week’s US Open.
There, Stenson will likely be in contention once again as his sensational form continues, but he won’t be greeted with similarly generous conditions as the Nordea Masters when he lands in North Carolina.
Round 3 Recap
Home favourite Henrik Stenson produced a stunning round to take a shared lead of the Nordea Masters with just Sunday’s play remaining.
The world No. 2 shot an eight-under-par 64 in favourable conditions at the PGA National Sweden to cement his place at the top of the leaderboard, where he joins Englishman Eddie Pepperell on 13 under.
Birdie on the last for @henrikstenson to sign off a brilliant round of 64. Seven birdies and an eagle and a share of the lead— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 31, 2014
Just four shots separate the top-nine players heading into the Nordea Masters’ climax, as we see below:
|Position||Player||Nationality||To Par||Saturday's Round|
Though players were shooting some impeccable rounds throughout the field, Stenson’s 64 was the low round of the day, achieved in some style.
Kicking things off with a birdie on the par-5 first, the Swede went on to birdie six more holes and record an eagle on the way to his eight-under total.
Holes six, seven and eight saw Stenson go birdie, eagle, birdie, the second hole of which saw the shot of the day.
More roars as @henrikstenson sinks a birdie putt on the eighth to lead by one now. That's four shots picked up in three holes for the Swede— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 31, 2014
After a booming drive down the par-four, 481-yard hole, Stenson had 155 yards remaining with an eight iron in hand. The strike was perfect, as was the direction, going straight into the hole for an eagle two.
Following his superb round, Stenson reflected on his exploits on the seventh hole, saying that he knew it was going close the second it came off the club face—per European Tour:
I knew it was going to be inside ten feet when I hit it and it landed about five feet away, had a little release and hop and went in. That was a great shot and it all started with the six iron on the previous hole. Last year I hit a lot of good iron shots that didn’t go in, so it was nice to finally see one go in. The crowds have been great. I haven’t played in front of home crowds for a while and with the success I’ve had I really feel the support. I’m going to enjoy tomorrow and try to be up there tomorrow with nine to go and try to win this tournament for them.
If Stenson shows the kind of form that he did on Saturday then the crowd will definitely be taking in a home champion, adding yet more glory to the 38-year-old’s already stunning season.
Elsewhere, Scotsman Stephen Gallacher fired himself into contention with a seven-under 65, joining Alvaro Quiros one shot back of the leaders on 12 under.
The big-hitting Spaniard has negotiated the PGA Sweden National course with consummate ease so far this week, putting together rounds of 71, 67 and 66.
Quiros hit eight out of a possible 14 fairways on Saturday—per European Tour—but his recovery play from the generous rough saw him card a superb six-under-par round.
With both Quiros and Stenson enjoying themselves on the course, it could well be a two-horse race in Sunday’s climax.
However, with the likes of Pepperell and Gallacher sniffing around the top of the leaderboard and the course playing easier by the day, it’s going to take yet another round in the mid-60s to land the championship.
Day 2 Recap
Alvaro Quiros and Victor Dubuisson joined Eddie Pepperell at the top of the Nordea Masters leaderboard, with a pair of solid rounds to fire them into contention in Sweden.
Frenchman Dubuisson picked up from where he left off from Day 1 with a second-consecutive 69, while the big-hitting Quiros went two better with a well-crafted 67 to share the clubhouse lead at the halfway mark.
Pepperell, meanwhile, showed great determination and nerve to recover from an early double bogey to post a level-par 72, bringing him back to reality after Thursday’s 66.
A nice birdie on the last for a 72 gives Eddie Pepperell a share of lead in the Nordea Masters with Dubuisson and Quiros.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 30, 2014
Here’s a look at the top of the leaderboard after the second day’s play:
|Position||Player||Nationality||To Par||Friday's Round|
After a one-under-par 71 on Thursday, Spanish star Quiros found his feet on PGA Sweden National on Friday, unsurprisingly taking full advantage of the par fives.
Two eagles, a birdie and a par on the course’s four par fives saw Qurios negotiate the longer holes in five under par—which ended up being his total for the day.
Speaking after the round, the 31-year-old revealed that despite his 67, he was far from satisfied with his performance on the greens—per European Tour:
I’ve been hitting the ball very well from tee to green, but even with the scores I’ve had I have not putted great. I had one putt from eight metres for eagle on 11, but apart from that I’ve had a lot of putts from around five or six metres and not holed any. So even though I’m happy I could have putted better. This course is playing a few holes long, and even the short ones are feeling easy. My length helps but the important thing is to control it. The distance control is hard in this wind though. At least it was warmer today than yesterday.
Pepperell’s fellow Day 1 leader Jans Dantorp slipped down the leaderboard with a 73, joining home favourite Henrik Stenson on five under in a tie for fourth.
The world No. 2 carded a two-under-par 70 on Friday, though it was a round that could have been so much better.
With just three holes remaining, Stenson was sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard on seven under par, but a bogey and a double bogey on holes 16 and 17 forced the Swede back.
However, he did manager to gather his wits to post a birdie on the 18th, leaving him just a shot off the pace heading into the weekend.
After finding the water on the 17th, @henrikstenson birdies the last for a 70 and a share of second place. Well place for the weekend...— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 30, 2014
Elsewhere, Swedish stars Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson joined countrymen Stenson and Dantorp in the top 10, sitting two shots off of the lead.
Karlsson’s two-under-par 70 featured five birdies in tough conditions in Malmo, while Hanson added a 71 to Thursday’s 69 to reach the four under par total.
With a strong Swedish contingent in contention, a home champion is well within the realms of possibility this weekend, with Stenson remaining the hot favourite for the title.
A few holes aside, the 38-year-old played flawless golf on Friday, and if he can replicate such form heading into Saturday then he’ll undoubtedly be staring at European Tour victory No. 9.
Day 1 Recap
Jens Dantorp and Eddie Pepperell took the clubhouse lead after the first day of the 2014 Nordea Masters, both playing rounds of 66 to finish the day six under as the favourites took a collective off day on Thursday.
Here's a look at the top of the leaderboard:
|Gareth Maybin||Northern Ireland||-5||67|
|Johan Carlsson (after 16)||Sweden||-5||/|
For the full leaderboard, visit EuropeanTour.com.
None of the leading contenders for the tournament stepped up to take the lead on Day 1, with Henrik Stenson and Miguel Angel Jimenez putting together the best rounds of them all—both finished tied for 15th, three strokes behind the leaders.
The first day of competition was played in nearly flawless conditions, as shared by the European Tour's official Twitter account:
Pleased to report blue skies and a beautiful day to start the Nordea Masters pic.twitter.com/EY5vwM5wJQ— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 29, 2014
Sweden's Dantorp enjoyed a superb start to his tournament. The 25-year-old played consistent, safe golf all day to finish without a single bogey in Round 1.
Two birdies on the front nine and four on the back nine left the Swedish rookie six under on his home course, with fans out in force to support the local hero:
Dantorp told EuropeanTour.com how much the support has meant to him:
This is my home course so I try to play it as much as I can when I’m home. I can’t really explain how good the support I got today was.
All my friends, all my buddies were here and there was so much applause. That was one of the biggest keys to my success today; it definitely helped me.
Peter Hanson has helped me a lot. It’s great to go to the States to see him over the winter when you can’t practice here. He’s been a great mentor to me and has helped me through things, so I feel more comfortable in situations such as this.
This season has been solid. I’ve not quite had the results I would have wanted but it will come, I’m sure. It’s all new to me so I’m taking it easy.
Pepperell scored three birdies in his final four holes on the front nine and looked set to take the outright lead, but a bogey on the 13th disrupted his rhythm.
The Englishman recovered nicely with three more birdies in his last five and should be one of the favourites at the start of Round 2.
Video highlights for the morning session can be found on EuropeanTour.com's video page, which you can access here.
Sweden's Rikard Karlberg put together an excellent first round, trailing the duo by just a single stroke, and he seemed satisfied with the outcome of his first day in Malmo:
World No. 2 Stenson looked impressive off the tee early and scored a solid 34 on the front nine, but back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th dropped his final score to 69, three strokes off the lead yet well within striking distance of another European Tour win.
Last year's winner, Mikko Ilonen, tied for 32nd after his opening round, produced a two-under 70 to stay in contention.
The experienced Finn tried to play it safe on the first day of competition and will have to play with a little more aggressiveness if he wishes to catch up to the clubhouse leaders.
The Finn told EuropeanTour.com he was really looking forward to defending his title:
It’s the second time now I’ve defended this title. “The first time I made a decent defence, even though I finish about 20th.
I really enjoyed defending and the attention I got, and I’m expecting more of the same this week. I’ve got a good grouping with Jonas [Blixt] and Matteo [Manassero].
I’m really looking forward to a new venue. I’ve not seen that many courses in Sweden - I’ve heard about this place but I’ve not seen it yet.
The new course seems to suit the more powerful players, and with few true challenges ahead of the final four holes, Friday's round of golf should see the contenders take more risks as they try to move up the leaderboard.
Those final four holes could prove to be the difference-makers, however, with the 15th and 16th in particular already troubling a handful of players on Thursday.