By Ronan MacNamara
Jonathan Caldwell. Photo by Golffile
A unique event awaits us this week as the European Tour is joined by the Ladies European Tour in Sweden this week for the Scandinavian Mixed hosted by Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam. Once again, the European Tour is leading the way for new insightful and innovative ways to expand golf’s horizons away from the sleeveless sweater and baggy trouser wearing dignitaries of yesteryear.
Hopefully this event can stick around to stand the test of time after the Golf Sixes, Belgian Knockout and Saudi Invitational have all faced criticism in recent years. Men and women from both tours will compete on equal terms this week which is fantastic and should not be dampened by a meagre turnout from the men’s point of view with the US Open next week.
Vallda Golf and Country Club will host this intriguing event which boasts a strong turnout from a female perspective. Sorenstam will combine a playing role along with her hosting duties while Solheim Cup points leader Emily Kristine Pedersen will be in action. Fellow Solheim Cup hopefuls Christine Wolf, Caroline Hedwall, Olivia Cowan and Celine Herbin will also be in the field.
From a male perspective Henrik Stenson headlines the field with Aaron Rai the other standout name in the field. Other than that, it is a modest lineup with Jonathan Caldwell the sole Irish contender this week. Cormac Sharvin has the week off after making the cut in Germany last week, meanwhile Niall Kearney puts the feet up after failing to reach the heights of his Canary Swing and Paul Dunne will have the week off to unscramble his brain after a disastrous few weeks.
Caldwell has endured a very Jekyll and Hyde season so far. He missed the cut on the number in Germany last week after a fine round of level par saw him in contention after the opening round. An uncharacteristically dismal week on the greens saw the Northern Irishman tumble down the leaderboard in round two.
Arriving to the relatively shorter course in Gothenburg this week Caldwell could continue the fine ball striking form he displayed last week and being a shorter hitter won’t be as much of a handicap as it was at Green Eagle Golf Club.
In an underwhelming season for Irish golf in Europe, Caldwell has seemed the most likely to break through or at least contend for victory. The Clandeboye man has had three top-10 finishes in the last twelve months while also seeing further Sunday opportunities fail to materialise at various events this season.
In truth, Caldwell’s struggles to put four rounds together have not shown a true reflection of the consistency he has played with this season. He has eight rounds in the 60s in his last sixteen rounds of golf, despite his highest finish being a share of 31st place where he mixed two rounds of 71 with two rounds of 67. At the Betfred British Masters he strung together rounds of 76 69 80 65 highlighting the volatility in his scoring.
Ranked 162nd in the Race to Dubai, Caldwell may find comfort back in Northern Europe where his solid performance at the Made in Himmerland tournament might prompt him to finally crack the top-10 where he has threatened to break into on numerous occasions this season.