Sam Torrance: Alexander Bjork is climbing the charts and a Ryder Cup place is not out of the question

 
Sam Torrance
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Volvo China Open - Day Four
Alexander Bjork is up into the world top 75 following his maiden European Tour title (Source: Getty)

Swede Alexander Bjork impressed during his first season on the European Tour last year and he showed further signs that he could be a star in the making by winning the China Open on Sunday.

This was Bjork's maiden title on the tour and a fantastic result. The 27-year-old played a flawless final round of 65 to emerge from a crowded field and beat Spain’s Adrian Otaegui by one shot.

Like so many of the new generation of players, Bjork is very fit and has a great swing, but what sets him apart is between the ears. He seems to have a very good head on his shoulders and a maturity beyond his years.

Read more: Sam Torrance: Alexander Levy has kick-started Ryder Cup bid

Victory in China has lifted Bjork into the top 75 of the world rankings and the top 15 of the European Ryder Cup points list.

It won’t be easy to make this year’s contest with the United States in Paris, but you can’t discount someone who has just won. This could just be the start for him and he has at least put himself into contention.

Another good performance will propel Bjork into the world top 50, and that means entry into the top events, the opportunity for more ranking points and so on.

That can change everything. But the Ryder Cup aside, this win – and tour exemption – is a huge step up the ladder in itself.

Wallace and Smith shine

Beyond Bjork, there were encouraging performances in China from two of the emerging talents of English golf, Matt Wallace and Jordan Smith.

Wallace, who catapulted himself from the lower-tier Alps Tour to European Tour in the space of a few months last year, looked very impressive as he finished two shots behind Bjork in a tie for third.

Volvo China Open - Day Four
Wallace, 27, finished two shots behind Bjork in a tie for third (Source: Getty)

His second shot into the 18th hole was glorious, and although it carried just a little too far to result in a birdie, it was another sterling performance from the 27-year-old.

Smith, 25, also tied for third after a great final round of 65. That is the sort of result that might fly under the radar but can nonetheless do wonders for his confidence. He knows he played well and that’s key.

A Ryder Cup pairing in the making?

Over on the PGA Tour, meanwhile, it was the Classic of New Orleans – an event I admire, although I’m not so sure about the new format.

Having previously been an individual stroke play tournament, it became a team competition last year which alternated between foursomes and fourballs across the four days.

Now, however, it starts with fourballs and ends with foursomes, which has made it less fun and increased the pressure.

Tommy Fleetwood and fellow Englishman Chris Paisley finished well with a three-under-par 69 to share fourth place.

They have shown that they work well as a pairing and that is something that Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn may take note of.

Join me on tour

In June 2018 join me on an extremely special golfing experience through the Highlands, playing some of Scotland’s finest courses, and travelling in style aboard the fully inclusive Belmond Royal Scotsman luxury train.

This is my second year hosting the Scottish Golf Tour and I loved it last time. Whatever the weather, links golf in Scotland is always enjoyable and exhilarating.

The tour includes Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart and Kingsbairns and runs from Monday 25 to Friday 28 June departing Edinburgh. For more details see: belmond.com/royalscotsman

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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