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Ove Sellberg (born 15 October 1959)
When he defeated Howard Clark in the final of the 1986 Epson Grand Prix of Europe Match Play Championship at St. Pierre Golf And Country Club in Chepstow, Wales, Sellberg became the first Swede to win a European Tour event.
In the nineteen-eighties there was no tradition of Tournament Professional golf in Sweden. Ove Sellberg was one of the few pioneers in a game that didn`t fit comfortably with the national mentality. Maybe the comfortable social background and welfare system of Swedish politics made it less likely (short discussion at the end of the post).It was only after Sellberg and his early successes that more Swedish stars began to appear.
Sellberg was born in Stockholm and began playing golf at 10-years-old.
Following a successful amateur career a sponsors agreement with car manufacturer Saab made it possible for him and two of his teammates from the 1982 Eisenhower Trophy, Magnuss Persson and Krister Kinell to turn professional and form Team Saab.
Sellberg won his card and played on the European Tour through most of the 1980s and 1990s, twice finishing in the top-20 of the Order of Merit, in 1986 and 1987. He won three tournaments on the tour during a five-year-span.
Sellberg struggled in his first year on the tour. Nevertheless he was confident and considered it to be just a learning process. Following the struggles with an inconsistent game he decided to change his swing. He began working on a flatter, more "body-connected" swing plane. The elements of this can be seen in the view from the side in the first swing film.
His game improved and his swing held up under pressure. He was now getting results. The following season in 1985 Ovi Sellberg produced a number of top ten finishes, and the final icing on the cake was his second place finish in the European Masters.The 1986 season saw the young Swede win his first Tournament. Victory in the 1986 Grand Prix at St.Pierre was as great a moment for Swedish golf as it was for Sellberg.
Ovi Sellberg three-quarter swing from a side angle.
After such a great triumph most would feel that they now had the tools to repeat the success, but Sellberg still remained unhappy with his game and felt he needed to make further improvements to his swing mechanics.
Sellberg from the front
At this time many of the top players were beating a trail to the teaching mat of David Leadbetter. It was in 1987 that Ovi Sellberg decided to use Leadbetters services as well. Many would have turned back after the initial diagnosis the South African teacher gave him. Leadbetter felt he needed to change his whole swing and recommended a long term process. Sellberg accepted the advice and decided to struggle through the proposed two or three year period he would need to develop his game onto a higher level.
Although Sellberg would find future success and win another two Tournaments, it lays open to interpretation whether the swing changes were successful or not.
Full in finish
Why did it take so long for the Swedes to win?
As can be seen in the Ovi Sellberg story the Swedes were not afraid to experiment, even if it meant taking their game to another doorstep thousands of miles away.
I certainly saw this trait at my club in South East England, where many young Swedish talents would come to absorb the expertise of Bernard Cooke, my mentor.Photo:One of the many Swedish talents being taught by the master. Travelling by bus, car over the North sea, or direct flights to London, they came in large numbers. All with great talent and full focus.
After a period of time it became obvious that something was missing in the make-up of these capable young people. I remember an interesting discussion between Bernard and Swedish Tour Professional Günner Müller(Photo).
The discussion revolved around why so few made it beyond being very good amateur players. Simply put, "where were the winners?"
The “Swedish model” of the fifties sowed the seed of the social model that had reached its height in the early eighties. At this point the average Swede was guaranteed work, housing, and health support throughout their lives.
The feeling in the Pro shop discussion was that the fighting spirit and need to express oneself by high achieving was lower in Sweden than anywhere else in Europe. Of course, less than 10 years later this had all changed anyway.Now looking back on that discussion, I think it would make a great article to consider what are the most important elements that make a winner.
Magnus Persson Atlevi (born 26 July 1965)
Persson became a scratch player at age 15, at the time the youngest ever in Sweden, and at 16 reached a +1 handicap, as one of just four players in the country. That may not be so impressive today, but players before metal woods, graphite shafts and high velocity golf balls will know what that means.
Set up-a very good feeling of space here. Upper-arms make contact with the body and then reach out to the ball. Possibly about 8 fingers space between the end of the left hand and left thigh. The knees are only gently flexed to ensure Persson makes good space to let the arms swing and still keep a gentle contact with the body.
A wide arm path away from the ball collects as much energy as possible. Unfortunately Persson is a little unresponsive in the trunk rotation and is unlikely to make a full shoulder turn.
Although perfectly on balance and poised at the top, it is clear that the left shoulder has not moved far enough behind the ball, with a lesser player there would be a poor return and little or no weight tansfer and the arms would be forced outwards.
With the swing now past the ball and still in perfect balance, it is clear that Persson was able to return naturally. His release is in perfect harmony with the ball. It can be assumed that every thing before the contact was in perfect balance and he succeeded in continuing his swing with no 'extras' to spoil his natural movement.
Henrik Olof Stenson; born 5 April 1976
He is the first Swedish major champion, having won the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon. His list of wins also includes some of the other most prestigious tournaments around the world; The Players Championship, WGC-AccentureMatch Play Championship, the World Cup, the Tour Championship. A two-time European Tour Golfer of the Year (2013 and 2016), for over 300 weeks he was ranked in the top ten of the official World World Golf Ranking and his career highworld ranking of second is the best by any male Swedish golfer.
Stenson first started taking golf seriously at the relatively late age of 11. He was immediately hooked and wanted lessons as soon as possible. At 12 years old he had achieved a handicap of 18 and was on the way to greatness. Like so many of the top players, Ben Hogan included, he was a left hander who learnt to play from the right.
Stenson turned pro in 1998 and found some early success on the European Tour.
This sequence was taken in 2016-the year Stenson won the Open.
Stenson sets up to the ball in a tall athletic manner. His grip features a fairly strong right hand with the forefinger more under the shaft (which could be called a modern tendency).His feet are placed comfortably wide in accordance with the long iron he is playing here. Left foot flared a little outwards.
The ball is a little back for this club and suggests he wanted to play this one low.
This next photo is a completely different position as Stenson moves his hands to the left while the hips slide gently to the right. It is a modern version of the old timers hefty waggle with the wrists to avoid tension. In addition he also gets mass behind the ball to coil-up over the right leg, and far better than swaying to the right as he swings. Watch the process in the swing film.
At this point Stenson is relaxed and focused. He is aware of his swing and preparing for the blow. The wrist joints are bending upwards. Note how he stays completely 'set' in the new center he created in the start.
Peter Cowen (Stenson`s teacher since 2016), is certainly one of the most successful teachers of the Tour Professionals.
Stenson at the top. Many have the impression that he has a short swing, but high-speed photograhy proves it is not the case. This backswing is about as good as it gets. Fully coiled with lower body resisting a big turn of the shoulders. The only aspect I can't take my eyes off is that right hand position, but as can be seen, it has no ill effects on the clubface control.
Henrik Stenson charges forward and successfully seperates his arms from his shoulders while his legs are racing. If he didn`t do this his shoulders would run the show and create an outward path on the direction change. This is a mistake you see often in amateur golf, especially for those trying to make the late release that they've seen on television.
Arms and body are in complete unison. This was one of the early focal points that Stenson and his coach Peter Cowen worked on. The body and arms are ideally moving at the same speed throughout the motion. Of course the outside of the wheel,the arms and clubshaft, will be moving at a greater speed than the center or hub; yet the revolutions will remain the same.
A comparison could be made with the record on a turntable. In the center the speed may be only a fraction of that on the edge of the disc. Again Stenson is not trying to hold off the release of the clubhead. If he did the result would be an ugly push to the right of target.
One of the major aspects that brought the turn-around in the Stenson game was hiring Fanny Sunneson, former caddy for Nick Faldo to carry his bag. Her experience was invaluable for a Stenson at a crossroad in his career.She also recommended Gareth Lord to take over from her, which started one of the most successfull caddy/player partnerships in European tour history.
The cross-over. The clubface has remained square to the turn of the torso. Even the head of Stenson is turning naturally with his body-turn.
Finish and recoil. Beautifully balanced, (click to expand).
To be completed with motion animation next week
Anders Gunnar Vilhelm Forsbrand (born 1 April 1961)
Six times European Tour winner and one time Champions Tour
Anders Forsbrand was born in Filipstad, Sweden. He learnt to play at Uddeholm Golf Club, a small club with a 9-hole course in Värmland, Sweden.
The Forsbrand swing generates a lot of power on the backswing by making a fantastic wrist collection and excellent trunk turn. His body stayed in perfect center to give him the most uncomplicated way back to the ball. At the time he would have been criticized by some teachers for the shaft going beyond parallel at the top and probably encouraged to reduce the height of his hands.
He makes a shorter backswing using a mid-iron. The Driver swing is allowed to go further according to his natural instinct and even talent. It takes a lot of athletic strength and confidence to make such a naturally long backswing. The iron is a shorter backswing in accordance with the length of arc he makes which is influenced by the shorter shaft.
Attacking the ball with the wrist angle collected on the backswing still held. This should not be an area that is consciously manipulated. Spontanaity and high-speed would be lost to the thought. The ball will be literally squeezed into the ground as the unloading happens a split moment later.
Mats Åke Lanner (born 5 March 1961)
Lanner was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, and learned the game at Albotross golf club situated on the island Hisingen in the northern part of the city of Gothenburg.
He turned professional in 1981, sponsored by a member of his club.
Lanner won three times on the European Tour and four times on the challenge Tour. He cruelly missed playing on the Ryder cup team in 1987 when the Captain Tony Jacklin chose Eamon Darcy instead. He would have been the first Swedish player to take part in the biennial event.
The Lanner swing was a high-tempo one. The tempo had no ill effects on his swing. For a normal golfer without the high athletic skills of Lanner this tempo would be disastrous, although unlikely to be achievable anyway.
The driver swing has no fault. The set up is perfectly balanced and tall. The pressure is set inside the feet while at the same time they are slightly 'splayed' outwards. Like the iron swing it is high-tempo motion. An individual aspect to his swing is the recoil at the end of both driver and iron swing. A recoil is when the arms are brought back down rapidly from the finish. Like the fast waggles at the swing beginning it probably was a part of his high-tempo focus.
In 1998, Lanner was awarded honorary member of the PGA of Sweden.After retiring as a player in 2002, Lanner began a career as a referee on the European Tour.