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Three years later, Pernilla Linberg still processing being a major champion


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Three years later, Pernilla Lindberg remembers leaping into Poppie’s Pond as clear as ever. It is her most vivid reminiscence from her win on the ANA Inspiration. She was joined by Daniel, her caddie now-husband, and her mother and father, Jan and Gunnilla, who made the leap in celebration of her first LPGA victory.

“I am not only a winner on tour, but I won a major championship,” Lindberg lately stated with a smile. “And that’s something no one can ever take away from me.”

It was a vivid, sunny morning at Mission Hills Country Club when Lindberg rolled in a 30-footer on the tenth inexperienced to cap off an epic eight-hole playoff to defeat Inbee Park, one of many best gamers within the historical past of girls’s golf. The night time earlier than, Jennifer Song was eradicated on the third playoff gap and darkness pushed the end till Monday.

The playoff turned a David-and-Goliath-style showdown. Lindberg, then-ranked ninety fifth on the planet, beat Park, a seven-time major champion and Olympic gold medalist, within the longest sudden-death session in LPGA major historical past. It was Lindberg’s first victory in her 250th skilled begin. And, it was the stuff of golf lore.

Lindberg drains birdie, wins ANA Inspiration on eighth playoff hole

“How I was feeling the whole week, the calm that I had,” Lindberg stated about her feelings. “It sounds weird to say about myself, but if someone had told me coming into the situation how I thought I would handle it, I handled it so much better than I thought I would.”

There’s only one different time that Lindberg can bear in mind feeling that very same sense of peace on a golf course. It was on the 2017 CME Group Tour Championship, 5 months previous to her victory on the ANA Inspiration. That Sunday in Florida, Lindberg made a cost with three birdies on her closing six holes. But, she obtained too aggressive with a putt on the 72nd gap that might have put her into a potential playoff and as a substitute three-putted for bogey. She completed T-4.

“If I hadn’t had that experience, that Sunday, and been that comfortable in that position,” Lindberg stated, “I wouldn’t have handled ANA as well as I did.”

In the wake of her new-found success, Lindberg stated sure to each media alternative that got here her approach. She additionally continued to play full-time on the LPGA Tour, profiting from the five-year exemption she earned together with her major victory. But because the adrenaline wore off and the highlight started to fade, Lindberg felt worn out. Burdened with self-imposed expectations and rising strain to validate her maiden win, she missed the reduce within the ultimate six occasions of 2019 and didn’t qualify for the season-ending occasion for the primary time since 2011.

Lindberg’s pros and cons of having husband caddie

“After ANA, I just kept going and kept going and kept chasing,” Lindberg stated. “And you go down a little bit of a negative spiral.”

Lindberg usually thinks again on that week, particularly standing on the tenth inexperienced within the playoff and her overwhelming sense of peace. It’s a feeling she’s struggled to rediscover since her lone tour win. And when her victory didn’t turn into the springboard she hoped it will, after 9 years on Tour, she continued to chase that elusive feeling. Lindberg has hardly ever contended since, recording simply two top-10s.

“It had so much to do with expectations and pressure on myself and wanting to live up to something,” she stated.

By 2020, Lindberg was in determined want of a break and acquired it when the LPGA went on a five-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Swede wanted to reset. She questioned her motivation. What was driving her to proceed to rise up and play every day? She wanted time to reply that query, and lots of others, together with whether or not the 34-year-old needed to retire from skilled golf.

“My dream, since I was so little, was to win a major. And then you tick that box and suddenly it’s like you feel a little lost,” Lindberg stated. “I can actually put my clubs away now, if I wanted to. But I’m like, no. That’s not what I want.”

During the quarantine, Lindberg’s house course in Orlando, Florida, was closed for six weeks. When it lastly reopened, she went out to play and introduced together with her simply a small carry bag. Her aim was to seek out happiness in merely enjoying golf once more.

“I just enjoyed it rather than putting so much pressure on myself,” Lindberg stated about returning to golf. “That turned out to be a really good break and I feel like I’ve been in a really good place with my game since.”

The time away from the tour allowed Lindberg to rediscover her motivation. Her love of course of.

“We’re doing the right things, good things will happen,” Lindberg says Patrik Jonsson, her swing coach, usually tells her. It’s turn into her mantra, too. Jonsson and her group maintain her accountable and preserve her engaged on these proper issues. In 2021, she’s targeted on persevering with to make small enhancements together with her sport. It’s a technique that has labored for her previously. Lindberg hopes that will probably be sufficient for her to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics this summer time and possibly even her first Solheim Cup group in September.

Lindberg is now in her twelfth 12 months on tour. While she’s proud that she’s been in a position to make a lengthy profession out of competing on the highest stage within the girls’s sport, she’s not glad.

Lindberg leaps into Poppie’s Pond

“Without that win at ANA, it’d be a completely different answer,” stated Lindberg, when requested about her profession. “I’m disappointed with a few other things, but would I trade my ANA win for any of those other things? No, no way.”

This week, Lindberg returns to Mission Hills. She loves it there, she all the time has. And since her win, the stroll has turn into extra particular as these recollections she thinks again on – the leap into Poppie’s Pond and her putt on the tenth inexperienced – come to life as she retraces her footsteps from 2018. Lindberg’s return can also be a possibility for her to reconnect with the sensation that lifted her to victory, the sense of calm, which has eluded her since her win three years in the past. The feeling that made her a first-time winner, and a major champion.

“We’d like to go out there and do that every week,” Lindberg stated about her success at Mission Hills. “But sometimes it just shows up that way.”

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