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Blixt's form makes him favourite to 'take it all'

Abba may have melodically meandered their way to Eurovision Song Contest glory back in 1974 but, for Sweden's male golfers, reaching that ultimate high of No.1 on the hit parade in the major championships continues to be their Waterloo.

Jonas Blixt, with two  top-fours in three majors, looks to have the game to break through to the winners' circle.  Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Jonas Blixt, with two top-fours in three majors, looks to have the game to break through to the winners' circle. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

And, yes, that is an eye-rollingly, contrived introduction to these particular warblings.

It's not just the Swedes who have failed to conquer the ultimate peak, mind you. Their Scandinavian neighbours in Denmark, a country with an equally impressive pedigree for churning out highly competitive campaigners in this Royal & Ancient pursuit, have flirted with major glory. Yet, like a bumbling singleton asking the office secretary out on a first date, they have fluffed their lines at the crucial moment.

From skiing to ice hockey, rallying to tennis and handball to curling, the Viking nations have produced multiple world champions and grand slam winners. Golf, however, remains something of a final frontier. Winning majors has never been a problem for the good ladies, of course. Liselotte Neumann, who captained Europe to Solheim Cup success last season, blazed a trail for her country when she won the 1988 US Women's Open, before her fellow Swede Helen Alfredsson struck gold in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 1993. Then along came the dominant force of Annika Sorenstam, who held the women's game in a fearsome double-nelson during those glory years that were illuminated by a whopping haul of 10 major crowns.

The boys have a fair bit of catching up to do, but it's not for want of trying. From Jesper Parnevik's late stumble in the 1994 Open at Turnberry to Henrik Stenson's runner-up finish at Muirfield last year, and Thomas Bjorn's crippling collapse at Sandwich in between, the Nordic hopefuls have had more close shaves than a Turkish barber during a power cut. In the past 20 years, they have racked up 17 top-four finishes in golf's grand slam events.

Jonas Blixt, the upwardly mobile Swede, was the latest to make a decent fist of ending the major hoodoo during last weekend's Masters by sharing second place on his debut appearance around the teasing, tantalising terrain of Augusta National.

Given that he is just a week shy of his 30th birthday, Blixt is hardly what you'd call a young gun in this era of fresh-faced kids on the block, but the two-time PGA Tour winner is blossoming into a fine player after serving a good apprenticeship at the coal face. Those with a keen eye for the amateur game - and with a decent memory, too - may recall him strutting his stuff at Glasgow Gailes back in 2008, when he picked up maximum points for Europe's college golfers as they beat a USA side led by Rickie Fowler in the Palmer Cup.

He turned professional not long after and, having worked his way on to the PGA Tour through the secondary Nationwide Tour rankings, Blixt's development has accelerated over the past couple of seasons. He has taken to the major championship lark like a duck to water, too, and his joint runner-up finish at Augusta came hard on the heels of a fourth-place finish in the PGA Championship of 2013. Two top-fours in three major appearances? It's not a bad strike-rate and with eye-catching results comes heightened expectation, both from himself and from those keen to see an end to the major drought in this part of the golfing world.

"I would love to be the first one," said Blixt, one of seven Scandinavian golfers in the top 100 of the world rankings. "I mean, it doesn't matter if anyone else wins before me, but I would love to win a major. That's one of my lifelong dreams. I'm going to work hard at it. We have so many good players coming through and I think it would be huge for Swedish golf and Sweden as a whole."

With the exception of Parnevik's loud, sartorial statements and his penchant for shovelling handfuls of volcanic ash down his thrapple in order to cleanse his system, the Swede's have tended to be the quiet achievers on the golfing stage.

"The Swedish mentality is a little bit different; Swedes tend not to want to stand out too much," suggested Johan Hampf, the director of education at the Swedish PGA. "We don't like to say, 'I'm the best'. The good side of being laidback is being open to ideas. It's thinking 'I need to learn more'."

Blixt will have certainly absorbed a lot during his purposeful start to major championship golf over the past few months. It's barely two months until the next major, the US Open, and Blixt will already be counting down the days in eager anticipation.

Sweden, and Scandinavia's, major misery for males has been well documented. Even Abba seemed to have an inkling about the future fortunes of their golfing countrymen when they lamented, "I don't wanna talk about the things we've gone through . . ."

Perhaps Blixt will be the winner who finally takes it all. "I hope that curse kind of ends soon," he added.

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