In four previous AIG Women’s Open appearances, Madelene Sagstrom’s best round was a 69, recorded in 2018 on the first day. She bested that number on Thursday by two strokes, with the help of seven birdies and two bogeys for a 5-under 67 and a share of the lead after 18 holes. It’s only the second time in her career the Swede has led/co-led after the first round, and Sagstrom said the key to her consistent day was her work around the greens at Carnoustie.
“I putted really, really well,” said Sagstrom. “I think that was kind of what saved me. I made some really long putts today, and I knew that, if I could just get on the green, I have a chance for birdie or a chance to save my par.”
Sagstrom’s career-best finish in any major championship is a tie for 11th, achieved at the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Since then, Sagstrom has recorded four additional top-20 finishes in majors, including a T20 result at the 2018 AIG Women’s Open. She’s using past major championship experience to her advantage, as well as the support from her putting coach Jul Karlsson onsite. “We've been walking around hitting millions of putts, just trying to get used to the speeds,” said Sagstrom. “It gets quite different downwind, into the wind, over the hills. It can really differ.”
Also taking in Sagstrom’s putting process this week is European Solheim Cup captain and 2009 AIGWO champion Catriona Matthew, who is playing the first two rounds alongside the 28-year-old Swede. Sagstrom is currently on the outside looking in for the European team; she has not clinched a spot via the Ladies European Tour points standings nor the Rolex Rankings and would have to rely on either a top finish this week or a selection as one of six captain’s picks. With the final team to be announced on Monday, Sagstrom said she is happy to show of her game to Matthew but isn’t putting too much extra pressure on herself to perform.
“I put a little bit more pressure on myself both in '17 and '19, really wanting to make that team, and I'm kind of at a state where I'm like, if I'm good enough, I will make that team,” said Sagstrom, who has made one appearance for Team Europe (2017), with a 1-2-0 record. “If my game is wanted, I will be on that team, and if not, I'm just going to keep practicing and keep trying to make the next team or just keep finishing off this year strong.”