Being able to take the lemons of life and turn them into lemonade has become a common cliche for how to handle challenges. But for Nanna Koerstz Madsen it’s a saying that aptly describes her journey. Quite literally.
Koerstz Madsen knew all too well the bitter sense of defeat. Throughout her career she became notorious for carrying lemons in her golf bag which she would suck on in an effort to temper her emotions while on the course. But Sunday there was no need for lemons. Instead, Koerstz Madsen enjoyed the sweet taste of victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand where she captured her maiden win on the LPGA Tour.
“It's amazing. It's a dream come true,” said Koerstz Madsen, who became the first Danish winner on the LPGA Tour. “I'm very excited about this tournament. I'm sure it will be more to come.”
The victory comes as no surprise to those who have followed the Dane’s career, for her win comes less than a year after she held a share of the 54-hole lead at the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie. And she knew what it took to win. She was a three-time winner on the Epson Tour before ascending to the LPGA Tour. But it was the first time Koerstz Madsen had put herself in that position on Tour, let alone in a major championship, and the same hole that dashed Jean van de Velde’s hopes of major glory saw Koerstz Madsen’s dreams sour with a double bogey on the 72nd hole. She took away from the experience what she could - a new sense of confidence and a belief that, one day soon, victory would be hers.
“I'm really proud of what I've been working on, and I do believe that it's going to come in the future,” Koerstz Madsen said on Sunday at Carnoustie.
The future came quickly. Less than seven months later, Koerstz Madsen defeated Xiyu Lin with an eagle on the second playoff hole of the Honda LPGA Thailand to win. The victory was the next natural step for the Dane, who recorded top 5s in two majors last season and made a first appearance on the European Solheim Cup Team.
Koerstz Madsen’s victory caps off the Tour’s two-week swing through Asia, which saw the season debut of Jin Young Ko at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore where she returned with a sweet, record-breaking win. And Koerstz Madsen becomes the second first-time winner of the year as she joins Leona Maguire who won the LPGA Drive On Championship in Fort Myers.
Now, the Tour shifts its focus towards the season’s first major championship as the season launches into full swing in the United States. This week, players will enjoy the week off before embarking on a seven week stretch that will see the Tour make four stops in California and another in Hawaii. The Tour returns March 24 in Carlsbad with the JTBC Classic. Then, players will make a short, two hour drive inland to Palm Springs for the final playing of the Chevron Championship at Mission Hills Country Club.
After more than 50 years of the LPGA competing in the desert, the final trip to Mission Hills will no doubt be bitter-sweet as the sadness of saying goodbye will coincide with the crowning of the first major champion of the year. But as Koerstz Madsen showed us with her victory on Sunday, learning to take the lemons and turn them into sweet tasting lemonade is what life’s journey is all about.