Anna Nordqvist and Scotland just seem to go hand-in-hand, illustrated perfectly by last year’s thrilling conclusion to the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie. Finishing with a final-round 69 to stand atop the leaderboard at -12, Nordqvist earned not only her first title in four years but the third major victory of her career. The Swede, who had to correct herself during her Tuesday media availability after saying “We Scots,” won down the road from the hometown of her husband, LPGA Tour caddie Kevin McAlpine, and holds onto the memories from the week like it was yesterday.
“It's obviously a very special honor, if someone would have said when I as a young girl that I would one day win the AIG Women's Open, I probably would have told them they were crazy. It's probably the biggest childhood dream I've ever had, especially being from Europe,” said Nordqvist. “I'm going to embrace the opportunity teeing up on the first hole being announced as the defending champion. It's been a huge honor having the trophy and getting to share it with my friends and family for the last year.”
According to KPMG Performance Insights, Nordqvist gained more than 46% of her strokes over the field on her approach shots, while also gaining a high percentage (27.2%) on shots around the green. She became just the second player in the major’s history to win the Girls' and Women's Amateur Championships, the Smyth Salver and the AIG Women’s Open, following Georgia Hall in 2018, and the 35-year-old is looking to be the first to successfully defend the major since Yani Tseng in 2010 and 2011.
“It's just a special feeling and I think it makes you realize, you look back on all of the things you've done over the years and how much you've practiced and see all that come together,” said Nordqvist, who was reunited with her R&A trophies on Monday. “It's just being very proud. I don't feel like I have any pressure on me this week. I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm just trying to enjoy myself.”
Though she’s yet to miss a cut this season, Nordqvist has notched just a single top-10 finish through 13 events, a tie for sixth at the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica. But Nordqvist said she’s ready to take on what lies ahead at Muirfield. “I kind of like that challenge, having to challenge some bunkers or having to maybe aim in the thick rough and letting the wind play a part of it,” said Nordqvist. “So I love this kind of game and I really embrace every time I come back to Scotland and getting to play links golf.”