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There could hardly be a more distinct difference between two courses holding consecutive events.

Last week, 20-year-old Tom McKibbin pounded his way around the 7500-odd-yards of Green Eagle to break his maiden in impressive fashion, courtesy of this outstanding approach shot to the 72nd hole. Remind you of anyone at that age?

18+ |

Fast forward not long and the DPWT arrives at Ullna Golf and Country Club for the third renewal of the mixed-gender Scandinavian Mixed.

The welcome initiative sees male and female players on the course simultaneously, playing to the same pins. Only movement of the tee boxes distinguishes the challenge, and whilst there is water aplenty at this coastal track, yardages of less than 7000 and 5800 yards should frighten none of the top lot in each sex.

Genders are one-all at the moment, with Jonathan Caldwell winning the inaugural event thanks to a lacklustre Adrian Otaegui, and the brilliant Linn Grant winning by a country mile last season.

Most will play their approach shots from the same distance this week and with neither particularly stretched, this may be the most open of mixed events yet.

Linn Grant

Defending champ Linn Grant and fellow home player Madelene Sagstrom look on a different level to the rest of the European ladies this week, but preference is clear for the 23-year-old winner of eight worldwide events, including her last two in Sweden.

Last season, the Arizona State graduate took a two-shot lead into the final round before an unanswered eight-birdie 64 saw her cross the line nine shots in front of Mark Warren and Henrik Stenson, her nearest female rival being 14 shots behind.

Since that victory, Grant has won two events on the LET, the latest being a warm-up qualifying event for the upcoming Evian Championship, held at the same course and at which she was 8th last year. The Swede is making her mark on the LPGA Tour,

Given the yardage advantage she has off the tee amongst her own sex, the pin-point accuracy of her irons and a no-frills attitude when in contention, this looks no more difficult than last year. If there is a market on ‘top female players,’ it would be the one to be with, but there may be a long queue.

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Alexander Bjork

He’s been expensive to follow for win purposes, but Alexander Bjork is another home player that will revel with the emphasis on accuracy.

There isn’t an awful lot to add to last week’s preview (or indeed the previous week’s) which both highlighted just how well the Swede is playing.

Last week’s top six finish was his 11th cut in a row and the Swede’s third top-10 in four outings, a feat that can be upgraded given he was the only one of the top 15 in Munich to have lost strokes off the tee.

Turning to sub-7000 yard tracks, his last six efforts (since 2021) include two top-20 finishes at Crans, a likely comp course, and a latest top-five at the Soudal Open.

Those efforts suggest this event should be a little kinder to his long club and allow him to use his accuracy off the tee, for which Bjork currently ranks in seventh place for efforts over the last 12 weeks. Put with a 42nd for greens-in-reg, third for scrambling, fifth for putting average and 14th for par-4s and he surely has his best chance to win this season, and I’d be more than happy to back him against favourite Alex Noren in a 72-hole match.

With two from the top and what looks a significant weakness any lower down than halfway, I’ll just add a couple more.

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With two from the top and what looks a significant weakness any lower down than halfway, I’ll just add a couple more.

Marcus Kinhult

Kalle Samooja was tempting on Crans form, as was Seb Soderberg, but, for me, this event looks right up the fairway of Marcus Kinhult whose short-course form includes a win at Hillside, another at Emporda Links on the minor tour, 12th and 23rd at Crans and a latest of 22nd in Belgium.

On the 12-week tracker supplied by Tour Tips, the 26-year-old leads Bjork by three places, ranking 10th courtesy of offering an all-round game that, once again, should see his lack of length negated by solid tee-to-green figures.

Given most of the field will find greens on the number, I’m buoyed by his figures with the short stick, ranking 21/8/20 across his last three outings. Hopefully, the home contingent has a lot to shout about this week!

Others of interest include short-course wizard Richie Ramsay, a selection but for his woeful putting, and Shubhankar Sharma, whose game should suit this but has a disappointing record at Crans and Kenya.

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Julien Brun

Best wager of the week, therefore, is Julien Brun, whose win at Emporda Forest may be a sneaky hint that he will play well here.

That win in the Costa Brava saw the 31-year-old beat Jeremy Freiburghaus and Bjorn Hellgren, both of whom contended at the Dormy Open in Austria, whilst Emilio Cuartero, winner of the Dormy Open a year later was 14th at Brun’s last victory. The connection? √Ėster√•ker Golf Club and Ullna have the same designer, interestingly the man that took golf to Russia.

Since then, the Frenchman has finished runner-up behind Marcus Helligkilde at the Challenge Tour finale, with the likes of Yannik Paul behind. Last season, Brun finished in the top 15 five times, including amongst players such as winner Thorbjorn Olesen, Soderberg and Ramsay at The Belfry, not as short at this track but still one that prefers to be attacked by a technical golfer.

2023 has been decent, with an encouraging fifth place in the desert to start and, now, eight cuts in a row, six of which have seen him in the top-10 at some stage through the four days.

Top-20 for iron play and putting average permits an allowance for some questionable driving, but he is another that will not mind the big stick being taken off his hands, as when 16th at Crans or just outside the top 20 in Belgium (7th/11th/12th through the first three rounds).

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Odds are correct at the time of posting

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