Strong Europe team hopes to make it three in a row at Portrush

ANDREA Pavan and Henrik Norlander will spearhead Europe's attempt to retain the Palmer Cup when the contest is staged June 24-26 at Royal Portrush.

Pavan, a senior at Texas A&M and native of Rome, Italy, and Norlander, a junior at Augusta State, were members of the European team that won the cup at Cherry Hills Country Club last year.

Norlander is one of four Swedes named to the team by European captain Dean Robertson.

“Andrea and Henrik are the experience in the team,” Robertson said. “They are strong players in what I think is a very strong team. Henrik is ranked third in the (Golfweek) college rankings. Andrea is 20th. So they are players in form and I’ll be looking for that form to continue at Royal Portrush.”

Robertson also named Arizona State junior Jesper Kennegard, UCLA freshman Pontus Widegren and Arkansas senior David Lingmerth as the other Swedes on the team.

“I tried to get (Texas Tech junior) Nils Floren on the team but just couldn’t,” Robertson said. “That’s how strong the side is, and shows how good Swedish golf is at the moment. Lingmerth is ranked eighth on the R&A’s (world amateur golf) ranking so he’s going to be one to watch out for at Portrush.”

Rounding out the eight-man team is East Tennessee State junior Rhys Enoch, Arizona Sate junior James Byrne and Stirling University’s Patrick Spraggs.

Spraggs, a 19-year-old from Stowmarket Golf Club in England, won the 2010 R&A Foundation Scholars’ Tournament at St. Andrews April 9 to book his place in Robertson’s team.

Robertson led Europe to victory at Cherry Hills last year, and feels his chances of retaining the cup are strong since his side will have home-field advantage.

“I really wanted James Byrne on the side because he grew up in Aberdeen and knows all about playing links golf,” Robertson said. “But most of the others know all about the mindset needed for links golf from playing events in the British Isles.

“You need a lot of knowledge to play links golf. You have to manage your game well. It’s all about distance control and trajectory. It’s a craft you have to learn and it comes with experience. I have a wealth of knowledge of links golf and I will make sure I pass that on to my team.

“They will be well schooled in the craft of links golf by the time the match starts.”

The Palmer Cup stretches back to 1997. The series is tied 6-6-1. However, Europe has won the last two contests.