Lady Golfer interview: Anna Nordqvist
This time last year Anna Nordqvist changed everything. To the casual observer not too much was going wrong, the Swede had 15 top-15 finishes in the 2013 season but she had lost her mojo. She even considered giving up the game.
But with new clubs, clothing, ball, caddy, coach and attitude the Swede has just signed off her best finish on the LPGA Tour. Two wins, her first in over four years, and seventh spot on the Money List with over $1m.
Nordqvist, who won a Major – the LPGA Championship – on just her fifth professional start in 2009, is back. Which is all good news for the European golf fan.
“I really liked the TaylorMade equipment when I tried it, particularly the driver which gave me a few extra yards so I was happy to make the change a few weeks before the start of the season. I used to play with the TaylorMade ball a few years ago so that made it easier, it took me a couple of weeks, I’m surprised it wasn’t longer.
The clubs were different but I fell in love with them straightaway. We played around with a couple of shafts and had two different sets to start with. The first tournament was in Australia and it was pretty windy and I was uncertain how the ball and clubs were reacting, then I won the next week in Thailand.
“In spring I wasn’t surrounded by very positive people and I lost a lot of my motivation and wasn’t inspired to practise. I lost my passion a little bit. Golf is what I do and not who I am and it wasn’t making me happy so I considered what I might do if I wasn’t playing golf.
My brother (a professional back home in Sweden) came up to caddy in the summer and he is very positive and helped me to turn myself around and made me feel confident in myself and my own ability.
It is important to have a plan that works for you and make it a lifestyle that is not dependent on just results. I was considering quitting but I have never been a quitter so I am glad that I fought through it. Tour life can be great but it is a lot of travelling and can be lonely and it is very competitive, you don’t have a lot of friends out there. It can be a very tough environment.
It is important to have a plan that works for you and make it a lifestyle that is not dependent on just results. When that happens you are in trouble.
“The previous two seasons I was really solid so I knew my game was there but I wasn’t winning. Over the winter I worked really hard and really dedicated myself to my training.
I began working with Jorge Parada in January. We started a little bit on my short game and then worked on lagging a little bit different in the swing, and I feel like I can go after it more without hitting them left.
He’s a really positive person and really motivated me in practice.
“I have added 15-20 yards off the tee which is a combination of changing coach and swinging more aggressively at the ball. The best part of my game is my ball striking (Nordqvist was 2nd in Greens in Regulation in 2014) and I give myself a lot of birdie opportunities. My short game hasn’t been great but I hit a lot of greens.
“I love the Solheim Cup, it is one of the tournaments I live for. I played a lot of team events growing up and am very passionate about where I come from and Europe.
It is always one of my big goals and I am fortunate to have played on three teams and won twice, it pushes you harder to be there and play your best golf.
“In Ireland I hit Europe’s first shot, in 2013 I hit the first shot of the whole competition. For me it is more of an adrenaline thing than nerves. In Colorado I hit it about 30 yards further than I normally do, it was way up there, I was so excited. It was an honour to do that and I saw it as a reward for all the effort and hours that I put in.
I think I do play better on the big stage. My biggest accomplishment is winning a Major at my first attempt but the Solheim Cup is so different and, when you look back at the end of your playing career, that will provide a lot of the highlights.
“In 2013 I won both my foursomes with Caroline Hedwall who went on to win all five of her matches. She is very competitive and stubborn and hates to lose as much as I do. We complement each other, she loves the pressure and so do I and we are very comfortable together. It was just a blast and we bring out the best in each other.
“I have had four holes-in-one and the one to close out the match on the Saturday morning against Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda was my most recent.
Nobody had done it before in the Solheim Cup but it was so special because it happened on the 17th hole and we were one up with two to play.
“The Solheim Cup should be a friendly match at the end of the day. It depends who you are playing, some are really good friends like Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome, sometimes you need to remind some players that it isn’t life or death and to show some sportsmanship. Sometimes it gets taken a bit too seriously.
“I have played quite a bit with Lydia Ko and she is incredible, she has no weaknesses. She is the player who impresses me the most on Tour, around the greens she is unbelievable and she is so comfortable and confident. She will be there for so many years to come.
Seeing her level of maturity at such a young age is very unique and I’m not sure we will see that again very soon.
To win tournaments at 21 is some achievement but she is still 17 and has five wins.
“My plan for 2015 is to be a big part of the European Solheim Cup team and contend in the Majors. I am pretty consistent week in, week out (she has missed two cuts in the past two seasons) and that is important as it is hard to peak in golf when you most want to. The more consistent you are on a weekly basis, the easier it is to do it in the Majors.
I want to just keep improving and make the worst days a bit better.”