What’s the one big thing, above all else, for professional golfers. Winning, right? So when Anna Nordqvist finally made it to the LPGA full time in 2009, she set about winning. But it’s unlikely that even she would have thought that she could win in just her fifth outing — and a major at that, the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. So good to get that out of the way so quickly she must have thought.
And then, at the end of the year to pull off another win, this time the Tour Championship. However could it have been any better? Two wins in her first year, one a major and the other the Tour Championship?
But that was the end of that for the next four years. Oh, she had two 2nds, one in 2010 and another in 2011. She had a 3rd in 2013 and 11 top 10s in 2012. Not chopped liver and she would have written home about it, but not a win…after so much initial success. In 2013, she became so disappointed by her lack of movement, she was on the verge of leaving the game entirely, even though she had 15 top 15s.
So rather than smothering in her “almosts,” she decided that it was time for a makeover. Women like that anyway, right? And it was almost a complete makeover:
I think just having positive people around me. That’s been really helping me keep me in a good mood and pushing me when I wanted to give up.
She began with a new coach, but she didn’t stop there:
Well, I decided to change coaches. Started working with him in swing in January. Jorge Parada, a Spanish guy. Changed my equipment and clothes. You know, I think the decision was just it was either I was going to keep working on the it or just, you know, keep practicing or playing like I had been.
But I think I really set my mind up because I wanted to be in contention and win tournaments.
But why would she do that, why would she be so disatisfied in the face of those 15 top 15s in 2013?
Well, I mean, last year I had 15 top 15s. I think in 2012, so two years ago, I had 12 Top 10s. My game has been very consistent the last two years, but I haven’t been winning since end of 2009.
Doesn’t matter if you’re very consist and always up there. The question is always going to be, When are you going to win again? So you’re going to think about it and question yourself if you have what it takes to win again.
So I think that was the spot I was in. I definitely wanted to win again, and that’s why I’m out here. I hate to lose. I’m a true competitor.
I felt like 15 top 15 was great, it was consistent and definitely where you want to be in order to win tournaments. Keep putting yourself up there. But I felt I wanted to take it to the next level and win tournaments again.
She decided to stay in Florida over the Holidays rather than making her customary trip home to Sweden. She had her family come to Florida so she could get after it:
I stayed in Florida this winter and I told my trainer that he was going to have to train me hard this winter and kick my butt, which is exactly what I did.
I was in the gym quite a bit. I wanted to get stronger and faster. That’s part of it. Part of it is my swing change or swing coach change. Having a lot more speed in the swing and I can go after it. Before I was kind of hitting it left a little bit. Now I can go after it.
I switched to TaylorMade this year and my driver has been working great for me. It was part of the reason why I was [spoiler alert!] able to win in Thailand because I was able to carry five or six more bunkers every round that was in play for me in past.
So I think it’s a combination of all three of those. You know, the more confidence you get the harder you hit it.
And the harder you hit it, the further you hit it. She improved her average driving distance from 244 yards to 260 coming into the Kia Classic, 16 yards and a remarkable improvement in just one year.
And so on Sunday, with her Thailand win already under her belt as incontrovertible evidence that winning again was possible for her, she went out and shot a 5-under 65 to get to 13-under and nip a hard-charging Lizette Salas by a stroke. All made possible by unwavering commitment and discipline.
And what a great time to be playing so well; the Tour drives up the freeway and into the desert for the first major of the year, the Kraft-Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs), California.
Yeah, I really love the majors. It’s a tougher setup on the courses and always a little bit more pressure and more kind of spotlight on the tournament. I like that.
You know, I like the test. Seems like it’s going to be pretty windy next week. Just going to make it even tougher. My caddie, Jason lives there. I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. Can’t wait to tee it up on Thursday again.
Anybody would feel the same way if they’d won two of her first five tournaments and gained so much swing speed that she picked up 16 yards with the driver. Geez, might as well start playing left handed just to make it a little more challenging.