On Friday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, major champion Anna Nordqvist looked like her old self. It has been a rough few months for Nordqvist on the golf course, as her last top-20 finish came over a year ago in the form of a T13 result at the 2019 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open. However, on Friday at the Pinnacle Country Club the Swede hit all but one green in regulation and turned in a bogey-free seven-under par 64 to tie the first-round lead.
“Today was really good,” Nordqvist said of her first round. “I feel like I've done a lot of good things the last couple weeks. It just hasn't really paid off. It's been a little bit disappointing, a little bit frustrating. But had a pretty good talk with my caddie and fiancé the beginning of the week, and I feel like they kept me in it.”
Nordqvist has made the cut in every event since the LPGA Tour resumed at the Drive On Championship four weeks ago, but she hopes a change in perspective and a renewed focus on the positive aspects of her game will lead her to a successful weekend in Northwest Arkansas.
“I feel like even last week I did a lot of good things,” Nordqvist said of her T32 finish at the AIG Women’s Open. “Just really wasn't the weekend that I was hoping for. I think just putting things in perspective, and, you know, when you do a lot of good things and it's really not paying off it can get frustrating instead of really taking the positive. So trying to see a lot of the positives from the last couple weeks.”
ROOKIE ESTHER LEE SEES HERSELF TIED FOR LEAD WITH BROTHER ON THE BAG
Despite missing all of the cuts so far during her first season on the LPGA Tour, rookie Esther Lee may have just found something to change all of that. Or someone, rather. Her brother and former caddie, John.
“He has [caddied for me before]. Last year when I played Symetra he came out to a few,” Lee said. “Off the golf course we argue a lot, but on the course it seems to work really well. Just comfortable. We started playing golf together at the same time and I work on my swing with him so he knows everything there is to know.”
After a night’s rest, the co-leader nestled in at –7, plans to keep the same momentum, but with a bit more leverage to keep her confident.
“It definitely makes me feel comfortable to have a little bit of cushion from the cut line and all that. So only focus I'll have tomorrow is just hitting good shots and making putts,” Lee says.
WALMART’S $100M COMMITMENT TO RACIAL EQUITY
Walmart is committed to making a meaningful, lasting difference in racial equity to create a more inclusive and equitable culture in our communities. This week at the #NWAChampionship, LPGA players and caddies are recognizing Walmart’s commitment by writing “100” on their golf balls, caddie bibs and yardage books. The “100” represents Walmart’s $100M investment to racial equity over the next five years through the development of a new center to address systematic racism in society and accelerate change. The center’s initiatives will fund research, advocacy, innovation of practices and tools, stakeholder convening and support the work of Black philanthropic leaders and organizations that serve Black communities.
PLAYER NOTESRolex Rankings No. 102 Anna Nordqvist (64)
- Nordqvist’s first-round 64 is her lowest round of the 2020 LPGA Tour season, and is her lowest round ever at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
- She hit 10 of 13 fairways and 17 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
- This is Nordqvist’s 10th start at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship; her best finish is T3 in 2015
- This is Nordqvist’s 12th season on the LPGA Tour; she has eight career victories including two major championships
- Nordqvist has held at least a share of the first-round lead five times in her career with one translating to a win at the 2014 Honda LPGA Thailand
- A six-time member of the European Solheim Cup Team (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019), with an overall 12-9-2 record
- Represented Sweden at the 2016 Summer Olympics, finishing T11
Rolex Rankings No. 392 Esther Lee (64)
- Lee’s first-round 64 is her career-best round on the LPGA Tour
- She hit 13 or 13 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 30 putts
- Lee is a 2020 LPGA Tour rookie, and has missed the cut in all five of her starts
- On the Symetra Tour in 2019, made 18 cuts in 21 starts with 10 top-10 finishes and a season-best runner-up finish at the Valley Forge Invitational
- She spent her freshman year at Duke University before transferring to the University of Colorado
Rolex Rankings No. 656 Jackie Stoelting (64)
- Stoelting’s first-round 64 is her lowest round ever at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship; her previous best was a 69, which she recorded in 2017
- She hit 13 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 25 putts
- This is Stoelting’s seventh season on the LPGA Tour; she captured her first career top-10 finish in 2018 at the Volunteers of America Classic
- This is Stoelting’s first event of the 2020 LPGA Tour season after her and her husband Travis welcomed their son, Baron Errol Stoelting in October of 2019
- This is Stoelting’s fourth appearance at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; she previously did not make the cut