Anna Nordqvist, of Sweden, watches her tee shot on the third hole in the final round of the LPGA Classic golf tournament in Waterloo, Ontario.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Over her last three years on the LPGA Tour, Swedish native Anna Nordqvist has been busy gradually cutting ties with the short-term success of her rookie season in quest of long-term excellence.
The game she had as a first-year player out of Arizona State University in 2009 was good enough to secure Nordqvist her only two LPGA tournament wins to date.
The Orlando, Fla., resident won her first title at the McDonald's LPGA Championship to collect $300,000 in June, 2009, and in November of that year captured her first major at the LPGA Tour Championship, netting $225,000.
That $525,000 from the two victories composed the lion's share of the $871,875 she earned in 2009, a figure that ranked her 15th on the tour's money list. She achieved that total playing in just 17 events.
Nordqvist was runner-up for LPGA rookie of the year honors behind Jiyai Shin, who led the money list that year.
But after a sophomore slump on tour in 2010, Nordqvist decided she needed to reinvent her game, primarily in an effort to establish consistency.
"I've been working hard for three years on my game, and there were a lot of things I had to change in my swing to get more consistent, and I think it's starting to pay off," Nordqvist said after a session at the Highland Meadows driving range Monday.
"I had an unbelievable year my rookie year. I put myself in contention two or three times, and I won two of them. Then 2010 was definitely a disappointing year. I started to work a lot on my game. With the game I had I didn't think I could be consistent week in and week out. That was a long-term goal of mine."
Nordqvist, fresh off a trip home to see family in Sweden, said she is refreshed and ready for a solid run this week in the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I.
The 6-foot-1 former All-American college player feels she has finally found the consistency she desired and is poised for a return to the level of play she established as a rookie.
Over her last seven events this season, Nordqvist has posted five top-10 finishes, including a seventh-place effort in her most recent tournament, the Avian Masters, which netted her $110,00 of the $412,892 she's won in 2012. Her best finishes were ties for fifth in May at the Sybase Match Play and in June at the ShopRite Classic.
She is playing in her second Farr Classic, having tied for 17th here in 2009.
"It's nice to be back," Nordqvist said. "I remember a couple of tighter tee shots, a couple shorter tee shots, and I remember you can make a lot of birdies out on this course.
"So, I only have good memories. My game fits this course."
As for her overall confidence level, Nordqvist said she's ready for a breakthrough.
"I think it's just a matter of putting myself up there enough times," she said. "I've been playing really solid this year, and it's just a matter of getting a few putts or a break here and there. I think I'm pretty close.
"I have to keep doing what I'm doing and have confidence in it. In a lot of tournaments I've had two or three good rounds, but if I can have four solid rounds that's going to make a difference."
Statistically, Nordqvist's numbers reflect her improvement. She ranks seventh among LPGA players in birdies, 11th in greens in regulation, and 17th in scoring average.
Having effectively tweaked her short game, the next step may be finding a way to turn the leverage of her height into greater driving distance. She ranks 78th in that tour category.
"I'm 6-1 and I should be hitting farther off the tee, considering I hit my irons pretty far," Norqvist said. "I don't really keep up with the driver, but it's a work in progress.
"I have a lot of top 10s this year. [Long driving] is nothing I'm really worried about. I'm trying to get bits and pieces here and there, and hopefully [longer driving] will come in time."
In shorter order, Nordqvist hopes victories will also come soon.
"It's been a bit frustrating and disappointing that I haven't won again [since 2009]," she said, "but I feel a lot better about my game now than I have in a long time."
NOTES: Rachel Rohanna, the No. 1 player at Ohio State University, fired a 71 Monday at Sylvania Country Club to win one of two qualifying spots for this week's tournament. The other qualifier was Courtney Harter, a Symetra Tour player who carded a 73. Piyathida Chaiyapan of the University of Toledo shot 79 and failed to qualify. … The team headed by LPGA pro Stephanie Louden posted a 55 to win low gross honors Monday at Highland Meadows in the Mercy/Lucas County Healthy Communities Foundation Pro-Am. Joining Louden's group were Larry Burns, Kevin O'Neal, Jamie Broce, and Blake Russell. The team headed by pro player Sandra Changkija won that event's low net honors with a score of 50.3. Joining Changkija were Chad Peter, Jon Levine, Frank Szollosi, and Pat Martin. … Pro Steph Sherlock headed up the five-player team that shot 6-under to win the KeyBank Putting ProAm Monday. Joining Sherlock were Chris Kelly, Paul Drossman, Judy MacQuisten, and Rick Wilhelm.
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com 419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.