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The Swingin' Swedes: How Fransson, Konradsson and Wetterqvist Are Finding Success on the ODU Men's Golf Team


Gustav Fransson (center) competed in all six tournaments this season for the Monarchs, while Rasmus Konradsson (left) and Filip Wetterqvist (right) played in five

The Old Dominion men's golf team consists of nine players from three different countries. One-third of the team's players are from Sweden, a Scandinavian country that is known for having long, cold winters and cooler summers, a climate that you wouldn't expect golfers to emerge from. 
But here they are, Gustav Fransson, Rasmus Konradsson and Filip Wetterqvist, all members of the ODU men's golf team that despite having its spring season cut short, had a very successful campaign and carries momentum into the upcoming fall. This season, the Monarchs won their first tournament since the 2016-2017 season and earned four top-five finishes, their most in three years despite only competing in six events. 
Head coach Murray Rudisill had the idea of bringing Swedish talent to ODU after seeing the success of other Swedes on opposing teams. 
"We first became interested in Swedish players when I noticed that Campbell University had a number of really great Swedish players and so did a number of other universities that we competed against," Rudisill said. "The first Swedish player on the team was about four or five years ago when I had one player who came over for a trial year. Things didn't work out with him and he left after one year. We had another opportunity and recruited Gustav and he has been with us three years."
Fransson was the first of the three Swedes to be recruited by ODU.
"An agency helped me and they advised me about ODU and its golf program," the Umea native explained. "I got in contact with coach Rudisill and got a good feeling pretty quickly and decided early on to try it out and I haven't regretted my decision at all."
Fransson's early success, he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team in 2018, allowed Rudisill to recruit some of Fransson's friends from his home country. 
"It was Gustav that led me into looking at ODU, and we have been friends since back in high school." Konradsson remembered. "I like him, he is a good friend and has helped me a lot with golf and also outside the golf course." 
"We were so pleased with Gus and he had a friend who was ready to transfer from a junior college so we were able to get Rasmus," Rudisill said while explaining the process of bringing in Konradsson. "Another Swedish player knew about our team and knew Gus and Rasmus and contacted us, and that was Filip, who was recruited as a freshman this year," Rudisill said, thus completing the process of bringing in his three Swedish golfers. 
"One thing that stands out about ODU from most other universities is that we have the opportunity to practice on a lot of different courses in the area," Wetterqvist said about attending Old Dominion. "There are not a lot of universities that have the ability to play at eight or nine different courses, plus we have a course on campus, which is awesome since I don't have a car."
"The golfers from Sweden are very hard workers, really good students academically and are well prepared for life in our American culture," Rudisill explained. "They have wonderful attitudes and will listen to instruction and are very cooperative. They get along great with the other members of the team. There are very few discipline problems with these young men and they are very well behaved on-and-off the course."
When the season was called due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Fransson was on a roll. He finished his last four outings in the top-10 on the leaderboard, three of which were second-place finishes. 
"I have been discussing with my personal coach from back home on what I've been doing good lately and trying to locate where I got my good results from," Fransson said. "As of right now I'm doing a lot of indoor practice up here in the northern part of Sweden. The snow is slowly melting but the courses won't open until June."
Fransson competed in all six tournaments the Monarchs golfed in this year, while Konradsson and Wetterqvist each participated in five. All three of them competed in the VCU Invitational, the event the Monarchs won back in September. 
Fransson paced the team with a 70.6 average round score. Konradsson was one of five Monarchs to average under a 73, coming in at 72.7, while the freshman Wetterqvist averaged a 75.3 round score. 
"I like the team, I like the coaches and I like the facilities that make it possible to succeed in golf. Lambert's Point has everything one needs to be a great player, and access to seven courses around the area is great to be able to change environment," Konradsson described about playing at ODU. "I am originally from a junior college and I think I have seen it all, small schools, old facilities, and a long way to the golf course. ODU has everything, it is only a matter of how one uses it."
Fransson, Konradsson and Wetterqvist all made it back home to Sweden prior to the airlines limiting their flights. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden's precautions are more lax compared to the United States and most of the other European countries, as the country doesn't have a stay-at-home order, but the government is still limiting the amount of people in gatherings to a maximum of 50and it still encourages social distancing and staying home if you aren't feeling well. 
"The prime minister has been announcing that it is up to one another to be protective and helpful during this time, letting the community decide whether or not to go out in public if they feel sick and they provide help for those in need," Konradsson explained. "People have been working as normal, and if someone is feeling sick, they have been at home. The only thing I can see is that people are staying at home rather than traveling around the country."
"I can't see any difference on the streets, there are still a lot of people outside," Wetterqvist said. "I can practice and play golf every day."
"Pretty much everything remains open such as workplaces, gyms and schools, up to high school level, are still open," Fransson said of the matter. "Restaurants, bars and other places are open as long as they follow the guidelines."
As one could imagine, leaving home to attend a college in a totally different country can be intimidating. Luckily, these three golfers have each other in this foreign land. 
"My first two years I was the only Swede on my team and didn't really put any time in to reflect on that," Fransson said. "For this past year we added two Swedes to the team and it has really been a great addition to have someone to talk to in Swedish and express things and talk about things that are difficult in English sometimes."
"It is always fun to get to talk Swedish, I don't know if our American teammates agree with that, but I enjoy it." Konradsson said.
College-aged American golfers had several golfers they could have looked up to growing up: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, just to name a few. To these three Swedes, there was only one obvious choice to pick when choosing their golfing idol: Henrik Stenson. 
Stenson, who has six career PGA Tour victories and won the silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics, is a native of Gothenburg, Sweden, and has been playing professionally since 1999. 
"Henrik Stenson is someone I always have looked up to," Fransson explained. "His wife is from my hometown and my mom and dad are good friends with their family. So, I've been able to follow Henrik's career closely for a long time now and I've seen all of his ups and down throughout his career which have inspired me with my career. Also, my two older brothers, who've been competing on a decent level, have inspired me. As a kid I looked up to them and was always was trying to beat them."
We all know the common goal on the golf course; get the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes as possible. However, it's interesting to see how people from all over the world accomplishes that goal in different ways.
"In general, Swedish golfers hit the ball much further than Americans," Wetterqvist observed. "Many Swedes learn to hit the ball very far at a young age."
"Swedish golfers tend to be good technically due to the long indoor season back home, when the main focus always become technique since all you do for a couple of months is hitting a ball into a net five meters in front of you." Fransson said.
"I can see in America people tend to only play and not practice, which is good in a way, but I like to get some practice in as well. I love to play all the time as well, but keep in mind 'practice makes perfect.'" Konradsson explained. "I can see that in Sweden people can be worried to much about the technical part to much and forget the main purpose."
The Swedish trio will be joined by a another this upcoming season to complete their foursome, as Jakob Henriksson will also make the move from Sweden to Norfolk to attend school and golf for ODU. 
"I believe there is going to be four Swedes next year, so I feel a little bad for our teammates since we'll be talking a lot of Swedish," Konradsson joked.
Although this season was cut short, the four top-five finishes out of six tournaments this past year and the return of these talented Swedes provides a buzz of excitement going into the 2020-2021 season.