Dale Whitnell captured his first DP World Tour title at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed yesterday. It was an emotional win for the veteran who had 106 DPWT starts over 14 years (with a stint driving a courier van in between) before finally breaking through with a three shot victory in Stockholm. The unique format of the event, which is co-sanctioned by the DPWT and LET and brings the men and women together to compete on the same course for one purse, didn’t get the lead up it deserved this week. The Great Merge sucked up all the attention of the golf world as Linn Grant looked to defend her historic nine-shot victory from last year.
A repeat for Grant or a win for any LET player was a long shot after the first two rounds, as only two women were in the top twenty. It was even more lopsided towards the bottom of the leaderboard, with 58 of the 78 women in the field missing the cut. Impressive Saturday 64s from Madelene Sagstrom and Gabriella Cowley as well as a record-setting 63 from Anne Van Dam, the lowest round by a woman in the event, made for a more balanced leaderboard at the top. Van Dam and Cowley continued their good play on Sunday, finishing T-3 and T-5, respectively.
The course setup crew for the Mixed is in an unenviable position, tasked with getting things right four days in a row for men and women who play drastically different games. The choice of venue is critical in allowing a variety of skills to shine and giving the crew flexibility in the setup.The Ullna Golf and Country Club may have featured Yannik Paul’s dance moves at the “party hole” 13th and a 6/10 dive from a fan off a rickety barge, but from a playing perspective the course heavily favored one aspect of the women’s game: length. The trio of Van Dam, Cowley, and Sagstrom all rank towards the top in driving distance.
Despite the lopsided results, it would be silly to judge this tournament strictly on the balance of the leaderboard. The benefits of the format far outweigh the challenges and complexities in getting the setup correct. And as Linn Grant showed last year, a player can get hot and lap both the men and women regardless of the setup. The variety of the format is a breath of fresh air on the golf schedule. The women and men enjoy the change, with both sides benefiting from playing with each other. And the biggest winners are the fans, too often an afterthought in professional golf, who are treated to a two-for-one deal. With the future of golf rather murky at the moment, the Scandinavian Mixed is a bright spot that will hopefully continue shining for years to come.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.