The perceived view from fellow professionals is that in the world of golf Sweden, as a race, are in the tortoise league. Sticklers for playing it by the instruction manual, they sometimes forget that they are actually required to hit the ball. Mark Roe, a flibbertigibbet by comparison, played behind Robert Karlsson and with Olle (pronounced Ooler).
The Karlssons are unrelated apart from the fact that the wheels on their trolleys grind exceedingly slow. First Robert. They put the watch on him at the 13th and on the tee he took 49 seconds to hit a shot, nine seconds beyond the time permitted. The time and motion men followed him to the 13th green where he took 63 seconds over his first putt. The limit is 60. At the 15th hole, he spent 68 seconds over his second stroke and that was 13 seconds too long. In all, he was 25 seconds over the limit and his fine works out at pounds 20 per second.
Karlsson R, who finished with a two-under-par 70, made a name for himself by finishing runner-up to Nick Faldo in the European Open at Sunningdale in 1992. Faldo, a prominent tortoise leaguer himself, had nothing but praise for the 24- year-old Swede. You can bet that had Faldo taken three seconds longer over a shot than he should have, no action would be taken. There was more Swede bashing when Montgomerie complained about the pace of play of Joakim Haeggman.
'He's the slowest I've ever played with,' Big Monty, trying desperately to keep his brittle temperament under control, said. 'It was a long, hot day. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.' After nine holes, Montgomerie suggested to an official that Haeggman should be timed. He was and the Ryder Cup player speeded up sufficiently to avoid official censure. Haeggman shot 68, Montgomerie 72. On the last hole, as he stood over a putt, a 'Keep Quiet' sign shot up. 'Madam,' the towering Scot boomed, 'put that thing away.'
When Roe was informed of Karlsson R's fine, his reaction was on the lines of about time too. What is more, he suggested that Olle should also be punished. His wish was subsequently granted. Olle, who scored 74, transgressed at the 16th (158 seconds on his third shot, 55 allowed), at the 17th (53 seconds on his tee shot, 40 allowed), at the 18th (43 seconds over his second shot, 40 allowed) and again at the 18th where he took 63 seconds over his first putt, 23 over the limit.
Not that Roe's hands are entirely clean. He has been fined for throwing a bowl of spaghetti over the head of Russell Claydon. Yesterday though, Roe was faultless: six birdies, no bogeys and he is two strokes behind the Welshman Paul Affleck and the Englishman Mark Davies, who both shot 64.
Seventh in the Order of Merit with more than pounds 200,000, Roe is having the best season of his career. It will get him into the England team for the World Cup in Puerto Rico and next year his aim is more ambitious still, to make the Ryder Cup team. His ultimate ambition, however, is to see Sheffield United back in the Premier League.
In mitigation for the Karlssons, it could be argued that slow play was almost inevitable due to the Drottningholms course resembling not so much a cool Swedish playground, more a scene from the Gobi Desert. On Wednesday, the temperature was 95F and yesterday it seemed even hotter.
'It was,' Roe said, 'like playing golf in a sauna.' Good preparation then for the US PGA in Tulsa in a fortnight and Jesper Parnevik, the runner-up in the Open, will be there. On the strength of his performance at Turnberry, Parnevik has received an invitation which he has accepted, although Mia, his wife-to- be, would probably like to hit him over the head with it. They get married on 6 August and the next day Jesper will take his confetti to Oklahoma. Mia will be only 24 hours from Tulsa.
SCANDINAVIAN MASTERS (Stockholm): First round leading scores (GB and Irl unless stated): 64 M Davis, P Affleck. 66 M Roe, P Curry. 67 M-A Martin (Sp), D Cooper, P Fulke (Swe), M McNulty (Zim), M Clayton (Aus), B Langer (Ger), G Levenson (SA). 68 J McHenry, G Hjertstedt (Swe), D Ray, M Harwood (Aus), J Spence, R Lee, A Binaghi (It), J Bland (SA), M Miller, J Haeggman (Swe), P McGinley, V Singh (Fiji), M Piltz (Fin). 69 B Nelson (US), M McLean, R Allenby (Aus), D J Russell, M Gronberg (Swe), M Farry (Fr), P O'Malley (Aus), J Parnevik (Swe), T Levet (Fr), F Nobilo (NZ), P Eales. 70 D Borrego (Sp), A Collison, R Karlsson (Swe), J Rivero (Sp), P Haugsrud (Nor), F Regard (Fr), S Watson, M Besanceney (Fr), B Ogle (Aus), G J Brand, D Smyth, S Grappasonni (It), J Robinson, N Godin, J-M Carriles (Sp), P Way, F Larsson (Swe), S Richardson, S Hamill, S Struver (Ger), G Brand jnr, A Forsbrand (Swe), R Claydon. 71 M Zerman (It), P Linhart (Sp), J Van de Velde (Fr), P Mitchell, C Williams, J Hawkes (SA), O Sellberg (Swe), I Woosnam, P Baker, M-A Jimenez (Sp), T Goegele (Ger), *M Lundberg (Swe), D A Russell, P Lawrie, R Goosen (SA), I Gervas (Sp), P Moloney (Aus), B Marchbank, O Nordberg (Swe). 72 S Van Vuuren (SA), N Henning (SA), J Townsend (US), D Westermark (Swe), S Tinning (Den), P Fowler (Aus), P Hedblom (Swe), A Hunter, M Sunesson (Swe), B Hughes (Aus), N Fasth (Swe), S Bowman (US), C Cassells, M Mouland, R Drummond, L Westwood, A Coltart, P-U Johansson (Swe), A Bossert (Swit), F Lindgren (Swe), C Montgomerie, B Lane, R Boxall.
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