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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Caldwell shoots 70 as Wolf shares lead to make history in Sweden

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Jonathan Caldwell carded a two-under opening 70 but the story of the day was Christine Wolf who became the first woman to lead a European Tour event as she shared top spot on the leaderboard with Sam Horsfield after day one of the Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika.

History was made on the Race to Dubai at Vallda Golf and Country Club as a field of 78 men and 78 women teed off over the same course playing for one trophy and one prize fund of €1,000,000.

Clandeboye’s Caldwell fired five birdies and an eagle but struggled to keep mistakes off his card with five bogeys leaving him in a tie for 56th after an encouraging two-under effort. The men had dominated the first half of the day but in the afternoon Austrian Wolf came home in a blistering 30 to sign for a 64 and set the target at eight under.

Englishman Horsfield then birdied two of his last three holes to join her a shot ahead of countrymen Steven Brown and Ashley Chesters, Spaniard Pep Angles and Finn Kalle Samooja.

After a 12 month delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic and days of seeing the men and women on the range and practising together, the action did not disappoint when competitive shots were finally hit in the European Tour’s first fully strokeplay event.

Tournament hosts Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam were playing together and they finished at two under and one over respectively, with playing partner and fellow Scandinavian great Thomas Bjørn also at one over.

Wolf, winner of the 2019 Hero Women’s Indian Open on the Ladies European Tour, was bogey free with six birdies and an eagle, picking up four shots in her final four holes to take her place in the history books with her mum on the bag.

“I started quite well and birdied the first two par fives that came up and actually hit it quite close on some of the holes but didn’t make any putts on the front nine,” she said.

“Then all of a sudden, I hit it close and towards the end the putter got really hot. It was nice!   I’ve been hitting it really well especially my drives, they’re down the middle. I know I can hit it really hard, and it will still stay straight. I’m trusting my game.

“We love competing against the guys, we’ve had a few mixed events at home. It’s just fun. At home there’s a lot of guys I play against, and I really like competing against them.”

Horsfield claimed two wins on the UK Swing last season and while he then had a spell out with a back injury, he has not missed a beat since his return with two top fives and no missed cuts in his six events on the 2021 Race to Dubai. The 24-year-old birdied all four of the par fives over the Gothenburg layout on day one and felt that was the key to his success.

“It was just really solid,” he said. “I haven’t really been taking advantage of the par fives this year. So that was my main goal. I hit every fairway and played them in four under today. That gets you going – four under right there, toss in a couple more and it’s eight under.

“It was definitely different but I really enjoyed it. (Alice Houston) was really good, I think she made four birdies in a row on the back nine. I didn’t really know what to expect, to be completely honest with you. But she played really well and I had a great time.

“It was a great week. It was the first time I’d made a cut in a Major, first non-U.S. Open. That was cool to play four days in a Major. I got food poisoning and was supposed to play last week in Germany. When I got here the other day it was my first time playing or practicing since the PGA, so I’ll just hopefully keep it going the next few days and go from there.”

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