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A Great Ending – Skellefteå Open Final Recap

By Nick Quargnenti
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2023 PDGA EuroTour #5 – Skellefteå Open Final Recap

Monday, July 10, 2023 – 02:13

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What a battle we have lived through in the PDGA Euro Tour Skellefteå Open FPO final round! We were working at the excellent press area, went down to take a coffee (Sweden is the 2nd highest per-capita consumer in the world), and crossed in front of the clubhouse with Jenny Larsson. Something in her eyes said she was super-focused. We took a look at UDisc Live and found out why: she was smashing the course record! Rushing to the interview set to get her impressions on that -6 (which would stay at -4 after a double bogey on the 18th).

Jenni Karppinen (Finland) started as a candidate for victory, but the difficult middle part of the course was especially hard on her, and with a round of +3, she had to settle for fourth place.

And those who, in principle, were going to dispute third place ended up fighting for the victory! The American Ella Hansen suffered from the tee with only 59% fairway accuracy, which, in a course that many players consider the most complicated of the PDGA Euro Tour 2023 so far this year, means having to test her scramble skills, but a stroke under par allowed her to keep third place on the podium and, incidentally, gain a week of acclimatization in Europe with respect to the other American players who will play the PCS Open next week and, above all, the European Open in a fortnight.

Yesterday we said that Brittish Rachel Turton usually saves something for the last round, and she did it again! A double bogey on hole 3 made many think that she was out of the final round, but nothing could be further from the truth! Relying on a perfect 100% in circle 1X (13 out of 13) and on her brother who caddied for her, she went on to show all the potential she has for good play, making 5 birdies on the back nine to be just one stroke behind Silva Saarinen on the 18th hole, which made some start to wonder what the playoff holes were!

However, the Finn is showing an enviable calmness in tense moments. Beyond the complicated stretch of holes 7, 8, and 9—which has painted in red the cards of almost all FPO players—she continued to hit many of the fairways, recovering two OB with two putts of merit to stand on the 18th ready to forget in the best way the double bogey of yesterday: securing the par to take her third consecutive victory in the PDGA Euro Tour, which also gives her the first place in the overall ranking of the Tour and leaves her in an unbeatable position for three of the most important events of the season: the European Open, the European Championship, and the World Championship. Almost nothing!

Incredible carousel of emotions that we experienced today in @pdgaeurotour on the 64th parallel near Skellefteå (Sweden)! Several hundred people followed the leading card cheering his 22-year-old compatriot Gustav Dahlén, a real “David against Goliath” facing three world super-classes with ratings several tens higher than his. It was not to be on this occasion, but he will surely remember this round for life.

Nor could the Estonian Silver Lätt, owner of one of the best forehands of today, stay at the top level, but he could not find his game and gave up 8 places in the overall.

So the battle remained between the two leaders: the Finnish Lauri Lehtinen did not achieve his feat of finishing -5 on the front nine yesterday, but at that moment he had the par of the course, so Paul McBeth took two strokes of advantage that would be very difficult to overcome.

Cards were arriving at the end of the course with some very outstanding results, such as Scott Stokely’s, with 8 under par and a rating of 1059, one of the highest in memory, especially for a player who, by age, would be framed in MP50. Old rockers never die!

The gallery of the leading card continued to grow as it passed the 9th hole and a curious circumstance occurred: at that point it passed very close to the 15th tee where, on the fourth card and with practically no spectators, James Proctor was smashing the course record with a -10 at that moment. The gallery passes by: perhaps they were following the wrong card?

-“Quick, an extra camera to follow him!” And it paid off, as he came into the interview set with a stratospheric -11, a round rating of 1078, and provisional second place within two strokes. Any OB or a bad scramble of the leading card could mean he had to come back minutes later to collect the trophy…

From the chase card, the very young Miro Ryhänen managed to keep fourth place and, as he is becoming a regular in the top 10, we would not be surprised if he assaulted the podium of an international tournament soon.

Ahead of him, Lauri maintained a one-on-one battle with Paul, but was unable to close the gap as there were fewer and fewer holes left to do so: his birdie on the 17th was answered by another from the American and a safe lay-up on the 18th gave the final victory to the World Champion who, after lifting the trophy, still had a surprise to receive as the large crowd, knowing that today was his 33rd birthday, began to chant “Happy Birthday to you” in unison to the delight of those present and the Californian star.

A perfect end to a great tournament!

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