While many women are seeking to get their golf careers started this week at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, there’s only one who is looking to make a big return.
Former LPGA Tour pro Louise Friberg is in Daytona Beach this week aiming to regain her LPGA Tour card after stepping away in 2011.
“I like to surprise people,” said Friberg said of her return.
From 2008 through 2011, Friberg played on the LPGA Tour and captured her lone victory at the 2008 MasterCard Classic. But while life on Tour was fun, the Sweden native suddenly found her competitive drive had faded and so she decided to make a change.
“It was not one single thing, but rather many things,” said Friberg of her decision to step away from the Tour. “None of the things by themselves were career ending but combined I just lost motivation and the passion for competitive golf.
“The decision itself was not hard to make, the execution of it was the challenging part. Stepping away from golf at that time was the only way for me to get out of my dead-end street. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions to move forward.”
For the past two years, Friberg divided her time between her home in Sweden, where she ran the junior program at Vallda Golf and Country Club near Gothenburg, and Arizona, where she gave private lessons at her home course.
Friberg said it was time well spent.
“It has been great being away from competitive golf,” said Friberg. “The time away helped me appreciate the game again and I have also gained a new perspective on golf. My respect for the game has grown.”
It has been five years since Friberg captured her one LPGA victory in Mexico City, Mexico. With that win, Friberg earned a five-year exemption into the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which meant that this past April marked the last time that she could play in the event based on that win. It took a slight push from her caddie, but the 33-year-old registered to play in the 2013 Kraft Nabisco Championship and opened with a 1-under 71 in the season’s first major championship.
Although she missed the cut that week, something sparked a flame that she thought had been extinguished years ago.
“That week, I enjoyed the competition just a bit more that I thought I would,” said Friberg. “I was not then in the mindset that I was going to give competitive golf another go. But that week a seed was planted in my head.”
It took a casual round of golf in June with a few friends at Sweden’s vaunted Bro Hof Slott Golf Club for Friberg to realize that her competitive drive was, in fact, still intact.
“I started to get that adrenaline rush that I used to have on the golf course,” said Friberg. “And I remember telling my boyfriend, as we left the course, with a sharp voice, ‘This is such a waste of really good golf.’ That was when my boyfriend sat me down and asked me some serious questions about me and my golf. He said that he saw something that day that he had not seen in me before.”
It was then that she knew it was time to come back to the LPGA Tour.
“The decision to come back and play again was, believe it or not, a harder decision than stepping away,” said Friberg. “I was a rookie before. Now I am not. I know what it takes. I have been away from competitive golf for two years. But I think I am ready for the challenge.”
Friberg opened the first round of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament on Wednesday with a 2-over 74 to sit in a tie for 88th. But there’s still plenty of golf left to play this week as a total of five rounds will be played to determine just who will walk away with LPGA Tour status for the 2014 season.
“I am here to get my LPGA card back,” said Friberg. “I definitely have the motivation.”