Players set for long test in Sweden

The European Tour would have been no place for Tom Watson this week – the SAS Masters in Sweden is being played on the longest course in the circuit’s history.

The European Tour would have been no place for Tom Watson this week – the SAS Masters in Sweden is being played on the longest course in the circuit’s history.

While Watson competes in the Senior Open over a Sunningdale Old lay-out measuring 6,616 yards Barseback near Malmo is more than 1,000 yards longer.

The previous record holder was Torrey Pines, 7,643 yards for last year’s US Open. This is 7,665 yards, with only one par four under 400 yards and the shortest of the par fives being 547 yards.

World number seven Henrik Stenson heads the field and the 33-year-old will be a strong favourite playing at home after finishing only four behind Watson and Stewart Cink at Turnberry.

On a tightly-bunched leaderboard that put Stenson joint 13th, but it might have been a very different story had he not ended his third round with a double bogey six he thought was rough justice.

Winner of the Players Championship in Florida in May, Stenson complained that the crowd and metal fencing were far too close to the landing area on the 18th.

Level par at the time – Watson and Cink played off on two under – he said: “I was trying to hit a long iron down the right-hand side, but blocked it a bit right and hit a guy in the head.

“Without the crowd and the fencing I would have been another 60 yards up in the semi and would have had a fairly easy shot to get on the green.”

It was his only double bogey of the week and he was unable to make up the deficit on the final day.

Compatriot Peter Hanson, joint 24th on Sunday, is this week’s defending champion, although it was in Stockholm that he took the title last August.

He is not unhappy at the move. “I live 20 minutes from the course and that makes it a little bit more special,” he said.

“I love playing in front of the home crowd and I love Barseback – I finished second to Luke Donald there five years ago and I have also finished seventh and ninth there in the past.

“It is going to be tough to defend because this will be my sixth week in a row on Tour and there have been two majors in that time, so I am a little tired.

“But I can take it very easy in the build-up. I know the course well, so hopefully I can take my energy from the crowd and go from there.”

England’s Chris Wood, joint third in The Open after bogeying the last hole and finishing a shot behind, had planned to play the SAS Masters, but injured a wrist in Turnberry’s rough and withdrew on Monday.

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