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An Interview with Anders Swärd, Freshly Crowned European Champion

A couple weeks ago, Swedish Team Discmania veteran Anders Swärd was able to capture the top spot of the Masters division at the European Championships over his countryman Kristian Bengtsson with a great come-from-behind takeover at the very windy Meri-Toppila DisccGolfPark. We caught up with Anders on his thoughts about the tournament and the freshly acquired European Champion title. Without further a due, here's what Anders had to say:

1) Huge congrats for the European Championship on behalf of the whole Discmania crew! Were you confident that you would have a chance at winning from the start or was there a certain point when you realized you will be able to bring home the victory?

Thanks! Before the tournament I think the Swedes and Ville Piippo (FIN) were the favourites, so maybe it didn't come as a huge surprise. I always knew that if I had a great week it might go all the way. Then again, all those guys including Eric has beaten me this year. It's quite easy to set a mark on that certain point during the tournament when I started feeling like I had it.

Kristian was ahead of me all the way, and while we were tied at some points during the last round, on tee 17 I was one stroke behind teeing off first as the "wind dummy" in the storm. I hesitated my 30 seconds for the choice of disc, but eventually decided to go with the P2 again. This was after I noticed my caddie and nephew David's (who at that point with the storm wasn't very sad of not getting the last final spot in his division) accepting glance at my disc that cemented my confidence on picking the right disc.

anders_sward_edgc2016_4

It took some deep concentration, but I managed to park the hole. It was close enough that not even the Meri-Toppila wind could take the birdie away from me. In that moment when the disc settled by the basket, I realized that I could win. It was a cool feeling, but also made me a bit nervous. With my drive I knew I had put Kristian under great pressure - was he going to make it or not? Maybe it was his turn to make it, as he had struggled a bit on that hole earlier in the tournament and knew he was forced to make it. Landing close the 17th pin was so difficult in that wind and I wasn't jealous at all for his position.

In a sense I'm sad for Kristian as even though he ended up carding a 5 on the 17th, he was close on 18 to take force a sudden death for victory. While there can only be one winner, I really feel for him. Also a funny part was that my old friend Jonas Hälleblad made the podium as well. We are from the same town, our parents still live across the same street in Västervik where we grew up. He's a few years older but anyway. Last time he was competing outside Sweden was in 1994 when we both were playing an Eurotour event in Berlin, he was 2nd and i was 3rd. It´s been a while since those times... :)

2) Sweden took home all three medals in the Masters category. What do you think makes the Swedish masters -aged players the best in Europe?

Sweden was the leading disc golf nation in Europe back in the 90s, while today Finland leads the pack. Those guys who were on top back then are old enough to play master division now, I really cant find another explanation. Finland, with Jussi in the front, has made some great work with the sport and I think the results today are the reward for that work. Players from countries like Sweden, Denmark and Germany just to mention a few, win a lot of tournaments, but Finland has a deeper field of players with that skill. And just look at the top EDGC finishers in open, ladies and juniors division - we have a lot work to do in Sweden to catch up the Finnish players...

anders_sward_edgc2016_5

3) A lot of people have seen the throw-in video from the drop zone on hole 18. What was it like to end your 2nd round with a shot like that?

Yeah, what to say :) Of course the easy answer that it was tremendous and so on... But all the feelings started already on the tee of 18. My plan was go for the easy shot, just pass the tree and close the round with a par. It was an ok round that I was pleased with going into the last hole.

Then leaving tee with an ob, I was hearing Simon & Garfunkel's "bridge over troubled water" in my head when I crossed the bridge. Heading to the drop zone, I was fully aware that this could destroy the round and also the tournament. In Swedish, Beethoven no 5 is called the symphony of fate. With that tune and mental setting I entered the drop zone. The choice of disc was easy - My trusty P2. As I saw the disc trailing towards the basket, the tones of those earlier songs changed and became more like Justin Timberlake's "can't stop feeling" :)

All in all it was a great relief of course, as I was fully aware that it might have gone ob long or with a bad hit to the basket it could have rolled down all the way to the water. I knew I had some luck in that great shot,  and maybe it was a sign that it was my turn this time.

See the throw-in below:

4) The conditions at Meri-Topppila DiscGolfPark were very windy, especially during the final round. How did wind affect your game plan and what kind of bag setup did you use during the event?

It was very windy for sure. One of the most windy rounds I ever played. In Oslo in 2000 it was so windy that baskets fell to the ground... That's the only occasion that comes to mind that can compare to the final round at Meri-Toppila. The game plan going into the tournament was to give myself enough chances to make a birdies but not pushing too hard for the birdies. Avoiding bogeys and playing a little safer than usual. I've had some problems with this the past year, but I've tried to develop myself and play more aggressive to be able to compete with the best. Playing too aggressive has cost me a lot of strokes during this season, so the tactic after Swedish Championships was to be more careful and maybe play a few holes for a par and not for the birdie. It might have cost me a medal there... but I learned something and brought what I learned to Finland :)

As for the bag setup, for the EDGC my selection of discs was very special. A lot of P2's, I think I had a total of six of them in my bag. It's my favourite for almost any occasion, for example on hole 6 in tail wind, no risk and past the path. And of course from the drop zone and no 17 :)

I also played a lot with S-line PD's and PD2's. I trust those discs, that's very important to me. Trusting the disc in my hand. All the other discs I left out of the bag for the final round. I didn't even want to have the choice of a disc that would not be stable enough. During a regular round on a regular course I also throw a lot of DDx's, TD's and MD3's.

anders_sward_edgc2016_3

5) What's up next for Anders Swärd?

Next up are the final tournaments of the Swedish tour. Last week we played at Ale Discgolfcenter with no bigger success. My memory is short and I went back to a lot of bogeys... You know when you have the voice of a Junior player whispering to your ear on your left shoulder and Mr Greed has taken over the right one... Not a great combination...

It was the first time I played at Ale though - it's already good but its gonna be great!!

In Mid-September we are playing the tour final in Uppsala. I haven't played there since 2002 or so. It's time to see if I learned something during the season :)

-REINVENT YOUR GAME

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