A mother’s incentive triggered pro golf dreams for Anna Nordqvist
Anna Nordqvist almost instantly decided golf was not her sport after her first attempt at playing when she was 10 years old. But just three years later, she was easily convinced to give it another try.
“When I started playing golf I didn’t really like it at all, so I quit,” Nordqvist says. “Everyone in my family was playing golf except for me because I didn’t like it. But one day, my mom said she was going to get started, and then I kind of figured ‘well, I don’t want to be the worst golfer in the family’ so I started playing again.”
Needless to say, the simple coax provided Nordqvist with enough motivation to excel in the sport and she quickly rose up the the ranks among Sweden’s junior golfers. Over the span of five years, she went from being the Swedish Junior and Amateur Player of the Year to becoming a top recruit for several U.S. college golf teams.
“I never dreamed of coming to the U.S. and playing college golf,” Norqvist says. “It was just hobby of mine. It wasn’t something that I thought about in the beginning because it’s a big step and it’s a long toss to be able to just go. I think along the way when I started to see the opportunities that golf had and some success in Europe, I figured that this might be something for me and I might have a shot at going over there and hopefully playing on the LPGA Tour in the future.”
Nordqvist flourished on the European national golf team during her high school years, which led to an athletic scholarship to Arizona State University where she played on the Sun Devils women’s golf team for two-and-a-half years before turning pro.
Wide-eyed and timid, Nordqvist journeyed to her new home in Phoenix with two suitcases and her golf clubs. The move wasn’t easy for an 18-year-old, who also wasn’t completely accustomed to the culture and language in the U.S.
“It was tough leaving Sweden and going all the way over to the West coast in the U.S. and suddenly being on your own,” Nordqvist said. “Luckily, there were quite a few international players on the team so we were all kind of in the same situation and that helped all of us just knowing that none of us had our families there or came from there. So it was ok that the culture was different for all of us and I think that helped me a lot, knowing that everyone was in the same situation as I was.”
By the end of her freshman year, she proved to be a star among the Pac-10 golfers as she earned Freshman and Player of the Year honors. Two years later, Nordqvist fixed her eyes on competing on the professional level and with a tie for 25th at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in 2008, she earned her card for the 2009 season.
In just five starts Nordqvist became one of the most successful rookies on Tour, earning her first professional and major title at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola. She followed up with another victory at the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex.
“(My first victory) didn’t really come as a shock to me,” Nordqvist said. “I mean it came pretty early in my pro career but for a moment I had to look back at all those hours I devoted to hitting balls into the snow in Sweden or when it’s raining or bad weather. It’s satisfying when you look at all the hours put into what led you to that win. Standing there holding the trophy knowing how much work you put into it, that’s worth every moment you put into practicing.”
With her major championship win, Nordqvist caught the attention of European Solhiem Cup captain Alison Nicholas and was offered a spot on the team, which is an experience she says she’ll never forget.
“When I was on the team in 2009, some of the players I got to play with were some of my idols as I was growing up,” Nordqvist said. “I grew up watching Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson and Suzann Pettersen. When you’re playing on the same team with them, it kind of felt pretty unreal.
“Having them as your teammates and knowing that we’ll all fight for the same thing and that extra spark you get when you talk to other Europeans about the Solheim Cup. I know the American’s feel the same way when they talk about the Solheim Cup. It’s just such a great event and it creates so many great moments for golf and for all of us.”
Now a four-year veteran on the LPGA Tour, she boasts a résumé comprised of 19 additional top-10 finishes, a second Solheim Cup appearance on the victorious 2011 team and ranks 28th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. In retrospect, the 25-year-old says she has become a golfer that her 13-year-old self never thought she would be.
“I never expected to actually be able to experience the things I have,” she says. “I’m loving it. It’s worth waking up in the morning and working hard for. I am very lucky to have two wins early in my career and I’m working extremely hard to keep improving and keep that success focus on what I’ve always dreamed of. That’s what I live for.”