Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom got off to a hot start on Thursday at the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open presented by Trust Golf, firing a 6-under 66 that saw her make one bogey and seven birdies. The LPGA Tour winner began her day on the 10th hole, making three consecutive birdies to kick off her round and grabbing one more on the par-4 16th hole to turn in 32. Sagstrom slipped up with a bogey on No. 1 but recovered quickly with a birdie on the third hole, making two more birdies on holes seven and nine to tie her lowest round of the 2023 season.
The score is the 30-year-old's first round in the 60s since Sunday at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give in June, and it's her second 66 this year, with the last coming during the final round of the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro. After missing her last two cuts, this fast start feels like a breath of fresh air for the Swede, especially considering how long it's taken her to understand how to play links golf.
"It started solid with three birdies right away. Made some really good iron shots today. It kept the driver in play and not fantastic, but I think my iron shots kept me in it. I made some easy putts and overall a pretty easy day," said Sagstrom, who hit 7 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens. "It's taken me a few years to figure it out. As an amateur, I hated it. Coming to Scotland, I hated it. I can't hit it low, but I started working with Shane (Codd), my caddie, he's Irish, two years ago, and we've been pushing it since and been able to be much more creative on the golf course. He's helping me see the different shots now, so it's really improved over the years. It's been a journey."
This is Sagstrom's 13th start of the 2023 season, and so far, it's been a pretty ho-hum year for the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings No. 39. She's missed four cuts and only managed to find three top-15 finishes, the best of which is a tie for 10th that came at the Cognizant Founders Cup. Statistically, she only ranks inside the top 20 on the LPGA Tour in average driving distance (6, 276.54 yards), strokes gained driving (18, +0.55) and eagles (20, 4).
This is her seventh appearance at the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open, and in her six previous starts, she's missed three cuts and finished inside the top 20 twice, recording a T17 result in 2019 and a solo 14th in 2022. As Sagstrom works to improve upon her history in this event over the next 54 holes, she'll also look to impress European Solheim Cup captain Suzann Pettersen, who is on-site scouting her potential team members this week. But Sagstrom won't let the captain's presence take her attention away from the task in front of her, instead trying to find the form that her game has been missing as of late.
"It's nice (to play well). And I do like showing off, so it's even better," said Sagstrom, who played on the 2017 and 2021 European Solheim Cup teams. "If I play well, I give myself a chance to be on the team. It's in the back of my mind but not my sole focus. I'm trying to get back into good shape. You don't want to go to Solheim Cup and play bad. I think it's just about finding form and hope for some good results."