STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Despite winning and finishing 11th in the FedEx St. Jude Classic the last two years, Lee Westwood has chosen to play in Sweden this week before flying to San Francisco for the U.S. Open. The Nordea Masters begins on Wednesday and concludes on Saturday, partly in an attempt to make it more appealing to European players headed for the Open.
The 39-year-old world No. 3 will be making his 57th attempt to win a major at the Olympic Club and is still searching for the secret to success in terms of how best to prepare.
The Nordea Masters has been part of the European Tour since 1991, and is in its third season at the highly acclaimed Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm.
"I haven't found the right way yet, so I might as well keep trying different ones," said Westwood, who at Wentworth two weeks ago confessed to feeling tired after three stints in America and trips to Asia and the Middle East already this year.
"It's difficult to prepare for a West Coast major because nowhere is near," he explained Tuesday. "If you play Memphis it's still a four to five-hour flight to California, so it's a tussle whether you play in all that heat or you go to Sweden, where there will be steady conditions and it finishes on Saturday."
Westwood tees off on Wednesday with 2010 Ryder Cup teammate Peter Hanson and defending champion Alex Noren, whose win last year came in anything but "steady conditions."
After he established an amazing 11-stroke lead over Bubba Watson with a third-round 63, the wind kicked up and Sunday saw two rounds in the 90s and 19 in the 80s. Noren shot 77 and still won by seven.
Sergio Garcia is also in the field, continuing a curious sequence of tournaments featuring Florida for the Players Championship, Spain for the Volvo World Match Play, Texas for the Colonial, now Sweden and then California.
Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke had originally signalled their intentions to play at Bro Hof as well, but McIlroy is now in Memphis trying to avoid a fourth successive missed cut going into his U.S. Open defense, while British Open champion Clarke is out of action for the next three weeks as he rests a groin problem.
Ross Fisher and Thongchai Jaidee play the first two rounds together straight after being final-round partners at the ISPS Handa Wales Open.
Jaidee will remember Celtic Manor as the place where he finally won outside Asia, while Fisher now has a very different memory to add to his 2010 Ryder Cup debut after he suffered a one-stroke penalty and $10,000 fine for slow play when he was only one shot off the lead with four holes to play.