For Maja Stark and Linn Grant, the competition on the course is ever present. The two, who are in the first and second places on the Race to Costa del Sol standings, respectively, have taken the Ladies European Tour by storm since their beginnings as professionals. Stark claimed her first of four LET titles at the Creekhouse Ladies Open last September, and has been on a roll ever since. Grant, a 2022 Tour rookie after her LPGA Q-Series T35 finish in 2021, won her first of two LET events this past February at the Joburg Ladies Open. But on Saturday at the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics, the two Swedes were grouped together on a Saturday for the first time in their young LPGA Tour and LET careers, and they made the most of it.
“I just want to beat Linn, but we also had a competition that we wanted to make 16 birdies together. I think it was just all about sticking to that goal, too, and having someone there to like push for you. We said before the round, let's really root for each other today, more than usual, and do high fives when we make birdies and stuff,” said Stark. “We did that, and it was really nice to, yeah, just have someone push you.”
“We said before the round, let's go out and make like -- do a game together, like make as many birdies as we can as a team. We didn't make our goal, but not too far off,” said Grant. “Nice to have someone cheering you on even though you're fighting a little bit as well.”
The compatriots are best friends on and off the course, smiling through rounds with hushed Swedish whispers, all the while putting together spectacular performances. Grant already has LPGA Tour status this season but Stark is a round away from earning hers with a win on Sunday. A victory for either would also be the 100th victory by a Swedish player on the Ladies European Tour, an accomplishment rooted in the continued development of Swedish golfers that Stark and Grant represent on a daily basis.
“As long as I stay patient and know it doesn't matter if I don't start with three birdies because it's going to be fine,” said Stark. “Sometimes if I have to chase too much I get so eager and greedy in the beginning that I don't even think about my mission, what I'm supposed to do. I just go for it and I'm stupid aggressive instead of smart aggressive.”