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"The more I practice, the luckier I get"



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01.06 Gode finner:
Den finske fremgangen – hva kan vi lære av den?
Finske golfspillere var tidligere i C-klassen i europeisk golf. Nå har de flere gode spillere på tour’ene. Hva ligger bak?

Finnene har fått frem mange gode spillere i det siste. På damefronten har de nå 5 spillere på Europa Tour'en. Det er ikke tilfeldig. Mye av æren tillegges svenskene og dere måte å bygge opp spillere på. Sverige og Finland har vist at de er gode til å bygge gode lag i ishockey. Spørsmålet er om vi i Norge har samme evne til å lære av svenskene. Eller er vi oss selv (gode) nok?

Vi har de siste årene hatt en del drahjelp fra Sverige. Mange av de tøffe kravene har møtt motstand blant foreldre og andre her i landet. De dyktigste av svenskene som har vært har, har ikke alltid hatt det like lett i sitt arbeid med å få norsk golf opp på et høyere nivå.

Dette sitatet fra artikkelen under viser hvordan også norske proffer stort sett har hatt det til nå.

If you turned professional before there was no-one to support you and it could be very lonely.

Her er en artikkel skrevet av Bethan Cutler om den finske fremgangen på kvinnesiden.

Fresh Finnish Faces set to make their mark on the LET

With a historical five Finnish players on Tour, Bethan Cutler takes a look at the strength of women’s golf in Finland. Introducing the new class of 2004….

Finnish golf reached a new pinnacle in its history this season when, for the first time, five Finnish players arrived to compete on the Robe Di Kappa Ladies European Tour.

Experienced 27-year-old Rikke Hakkarainen from Espoo and seasoned professional Pia Koivuranta, 32, from Vaasa, became the elder stateswomen of the bunch when they were joined by a refreshing trio of new young faces; 24-year-old Jenni Kuosa from Vantaa, 19-year-old Minea Blomqvist and 22-year-old Ursula Tuuti from Espoo.

Blomqvist made herself known on the LET with a fantastic start to her professional career when she lead the Tenerife Ladies Open after a blistering second round 66 on the first day.

Baby-faced blonde Tuutti, close friend of Blomqvist and near twin in appearance showed her capabilities when she tied for twelfth position at the LET Qualifying School, and on the final day at the Ladies Open of Portugal it was a testament to the strength of women’s golf from Finland when for the first time three Finns competed within two groups.

The success of Blomqvist, who earlier this year topped the Nedbank Women’s South African Tour’s Order of Merit and won two events including The Pam Golding International and the Telekom Women’s Classic highlighted the Finnish phenomenon, and the achievement of the Finnish Federation’s amateur training programmes in producing such a strong array of talent.

As well as being coached mentally by Pia Nillson, a former Solheim Cup Captain who has coached many famous Swedish names including Annika Sorenstam and Liselotte Neumann, Blomqvist, a two time Junior Solheim Cup team player, has had many Swedish influences on her golf career.

Finnish National Team Coach Ville Kalliala explained that the close physical proximity of Finland and Sweden has lead to many Swedish practises being incorporated into the Finnish amateur training programme over the years.

“I was the fourth professional golfer in Finland and I was a member of the Swedish PGA in 1983 so I saw how the Swedish system worked by developing the national teams. We copied the system”, said Kalliala, who has coached Blomqvist, Koivuranta and the other members of the Finnish National teams for eleven years.

“We have also had a lot of help from the Swedish Golf Union and our players can telephone the Swedish Golf Union if they need help.

“A lot of our Finnish professional and amateur players play together with the Swedes on the Telia Tour, which gives them a good start to Tour life, and they mix together.

“We believe in educating our players and they have mental and physical swing coaches.

“We haven’t done anything amazingly differently over the years, but we have a lot of good ladies at the moment and many of them play together, which is good because they support each other. And if one is playing well it encourages the others to do better.”

Koivuranta agreed that support was a major advantage for new professionals: “If you turned professional before there was no-one to support you and it could be very lonely. But now there’s more co-operation between the Finnish PGA and the Golf Union.

“The new Head of the Golf Union used to be the head of the PGA and was a professional golfer in the United States, and the new head of the PGA is an amateur player so they understand each other.

“I think this is the first year that there has been support for turning professional from the Golf Union,” she explained.

Hakkarainen, who was the first Finnish player to play internationally at the age of fifteen and whose best finish on the LET was tied second at the Biarritz Ladies Classic in 2002, considered the changes in the system: “They’ve developed a programme where the players have a schedule that they follow and they can play international golf. That’s the biggest issue in my opinion.

“They’ve been trying to create a lot of bigger competitions for juniors.

“They have a really strong national side and they go to each tournament as a team. Team support is something they’ve been trying to copy from the Swedes. They also try to develop each individual’s strengths as a player.

“From sixteen years of age the Finnish national team travels to practise at the national camps in Spain.

“They have their own teacher when they go away and they learn Swedish and English so that’s really good,” said Hakkarainen.

Both Blomqvist and Tuutti attended Costa Ballena at the La Manga Resort in Spain for a month last year with the national team, as in Finland most golf courses only open for five months of the year from May to September and for the winter period courses can be covered in a metre of snow.

“I went to Spain and the States to practise this winter. You have to go because it’s too cold to play in Finland,” explained Tuutti, who started playing golf at the age of ten with her brother and his friends at their home club Kymen Golf.

Blomqvist, who lived 200 metres from Espon golf course and started playing at nine-years-old with her friends, met her new swing coach when she went on a three day training camp in Arizona last winter where she now goes regularly.

“I go to Phoenix, Arizona, to see Pia Nillson who was the Swedish national amateur team coach and Annika’s swing coach and next week I’m going to see her in Sweden.

“I have learned a lot from Pia. My opinion is that it’s really good if there are coaches who have there own experience because at the moment all our coaches in Finland are club professionals and I think that’s a little bit bad,” said the Finn, whose home course is at Sarfik Golf Club.

Tuutti added, “We don’t have any female pros in Finland who were playing in the 1970s and 80s. Rikke was pretty much the first one so in that way there is not the experience there.”

Kuosa, who started playing golf at 13-years-old when her family went on a holiday to Lanzarote, believes the amateur programmes have improved: “The biggest thing is that they’re taking golf into schools and they are encouraging the juniors to get into golf from about age 12. I think it’s a great way to produce new talent.

“I hope we get more juniors because we haven’t had any Finnish idols in golf and that’s been a problem to get new girls playing.”

Hakkarainen said she thought that the increase in the number of players could only be positive: “I think it’s great that we have more Finnish girls playing, especially for the media because if someone plays really well then it keeps the Finns in the headlines.

“I see a really good future for us and hopefully we can win some big titles in front of the Swedes.”

Koivuranta agreed: “Because of ‘Minni’ playing well as an amateur before this the women are getting somewhere in Finland. She’s young, good looking, and she plays superb golf.”

Until now the Swedes have dominated the golf scene but the rise of the new Finns could redress the balance.

“We play each other in the national team competitions and when we do it’s a big fight,” said Blomqvist.

The 19-year-old has high expectations for her golf and aims to win a tournament to keep her card for the next two years.

Like Tuutti however her ultimate goal is to be the first Finn to play in The Solheim Cup and her experience of playing in the Junior Solheim Cup for the past two years has given her a taste of the action.

“I love to play in those team tournaments, especially the European Team championships.

“There is such a great team spirit and they are definitely the most fun,” Blomqvist said.

At Bogskagen GC last year she found yet another Swedish mentor in her team captain, Helen Alfreddson: “Alfie was a great captain because she was so rowdy and loud and always having fun.”

Alfreddson’s name adds to the impressive list of Swedish influences on her career but Blomqvist acknowledged: “You have to believe in yourself to succeed in golf.”

If success is a measure of self belief then it looks as though a bright future for Finnish golf is on the horizon.

Move over Sweden, move forward Finland. Blomqvist, Tuutti and Kuosa are the new names to watch in Scandinavian women’s golf.

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