CINCINNATI, Ohio | Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom has found some form this week in Cincinnati, Ohio, carding her third consecutive round in the 60s on Saturday at Kenwood Country Club’s Kendale Course to sit in a tie for fifth with one day left at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G. The 30-year-old backed up her first two rounds of 69 and 68 with another 4-under 68 in the third round, making two bogeys, three birdies and an eagle on the par-4 10th hole. Sagstrom got off to a shaky start, bogeying her first hole of the day, but she quickly recovered with a birdie on the par-5 4th hole, going bogey-birdie on holes 8 and 9 to turn in 36. The highlight of her day came on the short, drivable 10th hole when Sagstrom drove the green and buried an eagle putt to move to 9-under, and she grabbed two more birdies on her way into the clubhouse, including one on 16 that saw her make a lengthy birdie putt and one on the difficult, par-4 18th hole after she stuffed her approach shot.
This is the second week in a row that Sagstrom has carded three consecutive rounds in the 60s, and before last week’s Portland Classic, the last time she did so was at the 2021 Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican. She currently sits at 11-under and is four back of the lead held by Minjee Lee, marking the third time this season that the Swede has been within five of the lead entering the final round, and with nothing to lose on Sunday in the Queen City, Sagstrom will have the chance to go for broke as she works to track down her first LPGA Tour victory since the 2020 Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
“It suits my eye. Preferably I would like to hit some drivers, but it's so firm so you can't. Hitting it high and having a lot of spin helps when it's really firm. It suits my game,” said Sagstrom, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens on day three. “For me, it's been about giving myself opportunities and getting the putter rolling. I haven't putted as great this year, so I've been starting to give myself opportunities. Maybe the ones that I had, I put too much pressure on, I have to make those. Now it's like, okay, I'll get another chance, I'll get another chance. I think it's all about building momentum, believing in myself and my game, and thinking that I'm going in a good direction.”
This is Sagstrom’s 17th start of the 2023 LPGA Tour season, and in her 16 previous tournaments, she has missed six cuts and only managed to find the top 10 twice, tying for 10th at the Cognizant Founders Cup in May and tying for ninth at the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open presented by Trust Golf in August. But despite the lackluster season, Sagstrom was still selected as a captain’s pick for the 2023 European Solheim Cup team which will be competing in just a couple of weeks at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain. While she says she wasn’t too stressed about making the team and didn’t want to play if she wasn’t going to contribute, Sagstrom thinks that she might have subconsciously found an “extra gear” in an effort to be prepared for her third Solheim Cup appearance.
“I think that I've been trying to find this momentum anyway,” said the three-time Epson Tour winner. “Maybe my first Solheim I was a bit more, both ‘17 and '19, I thought about it more. I didn't play great in '17 when I was at Solheim, and it was not the most fun experience, so I knew that if I don't play well, I don't want to go anyway. That's kind of been the whole mindset, trying to find my game, trying to find something that works. I also probably knew that I was going to have a decent chance since I was first ranked outside, so haven't tried to put too much pressure on myself.
“I think it's something that you look forward to. Like now it's something other than the end of the year, this is something that okay, I want to be ready for this so maybe I have pulled in an extra gear. I'm not really sure. But I like what I'm doing, so it can be Solheim every other next week?”
As she looks to erase Lee’s four-shot deficit on Sunday and hoist her first trophy in three years, the LPGA Tour veteran isn’t planning on making too many changes. Sagstrom has found something that’s working at the Kendale Course and wants to stick to it, no matter what comes her way during the final round in the Queen City. “I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. It's about being in position here,” she said. “I think it's going to stay firm. They're going to keep pushing the greens hard, so it's firm and fast, so I'm just going to try to stay in position, hit some good shots, take my medicine when I need to, and hopefully the putter goes on fire.”