Anna Nordqvist achieved a 'dream come true' at Carnoustie last year. Now she says she can’t wait to defend at Muirfield – despite the controversy surrounding the East Lothian club

Anna Nordqvist still has to pinch herself as she prepares to defend her AIG Women’s Open crown at Muirfield.

The Swede held off a string of challengers, including Georgia Hall and Lislette Salas, to take her third major title in a brutal finish at Carnoustie 12 months ago and continues to describe her victory as “a dream come true”.

Arriving in East Lothian off the back of her 13th professional victory at the Big Green Egg Open, the 35-year-old has strong claims to become the first repeat winner since Yani Tseng 11 years ago.

But speaking about winning the closing major of 2021, Nordqvist said she still looked at all the pictures to remind herself of what she had done.

“It was just such a proud moment,” she explained. “No matter what happens no one can ever take this away from me. I feel like a lot of people doubted me and said I was never going to make it and I feel like I must have done something right because I’ve won three major tournaments.

“I still feel like I’m pinching myself and have to look at pictures to remind myself that I actually did win it.

“It’s the biggest childhood dream a European golfer can have – to win the AIG Women’s Open and going in as a defending champion is just such a great honour.

“That championship has meant a lot to me over the years and I’ve had a lot of family come out and watch me. My brother caddied for me at St Andrews in 2013, so I just have a lot of good memories from it.”

Muirfield will be a mystery to many of the competitors, having never appeared on the Open rota before, and Nordqvist is among those yet to have experienced a course feted as one of Britain’s best.

Despite the controversy surrounding its awarding of the biggest women’s tournament outside of the United States, Nordqvist clearly isn’t interested in the politics and is relishing the chance to defend there and hailed its addition – following the club’s vote in 2017 to allow women members for the first time.

“It’s a cool opportunity to get to defend on a new golf course no one’s played before. I think it’s awesome that it’s been added to the Open rotation. I’ve heard it is a good test.

“So I’m certainly going to be very proud stepping up on the first tee as defending champion this year.

“I usually like a bit of a challenge – when you have to hit proper golf shots and you can’t just get away with everything,” she added. “I think that’s why I like Carnoustie, because you have to take on a lot of the bunkers and you’re going to run a long way into some tight pins.

“I’m going in open minded. I haven’t played it, neither has my caddie, but I know my husband has and I’ve certainly heard a lot of good things about it. I think we’re in for a treat.”

Anna Nordqvist was speaking ahead of the Aramco Team Series Round 3 at Sotogrande, Spain, from August 18 to 20. For more visit the website.

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