Anna Nordqvist goes bogey-free around Carnoustie, grabs Women's Open co-lead

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Anna Nordqvist couldn’t help but laugh when she thought back on the last time she competed in the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie Golf Links. 

It was 2011. Nordqvist held the first tee time for that first round at 6:15 a.m. local time. She was grouped with Caroline Masson and Sophia Popov. Nordqvist’s mental coach at the time, Ken Lindahl, showed up in a pair of golf shoes for the third round, and Nordqvist finished T-7 for the week.

“I love Carnoustie, it’s a great venue, good golf course,” Nordqvist said after Saturday’s third round. “I’ve only played it a few times but every time I go it’s just such a treat.”

A treat probably isn’t the way most players would describe the third round of the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie. It was the first day of the week that the course really bore its teeth with rain and windy conditions.

But it didn’t phase Nordqvist. She did, after all, win her second major championship in a hail storm at the Amundi Evian Championship in 2017. On Saturday, the Swede recorded the low round of the championship with a bogey-free, 7-under 65 to jump from a tie for 23rd into a share of the 54-hole lead with Nanna Koerstz Madsen.

“We thought it was probably going to rain a lot more today than it did, so got a good break there,” Nordqvist said. “But overall, Scotland has been pretty nice to us this week and we’ll see what it gives us tomorrow.”

Nordqvist has been largely absent in major championships since her victory in 2017. Over the last year she’s worked through changes with her equipment, which have resulted in just two top-10s this season. Last week, Nordqvist played in Scotland in a tune-up for the windy conditions she’d encounter at Carnoustie. She walked away pleased with her T-12 finish and felt her game was returning to form.

“I feel like the last few weeks have been solid. Just haven’t made as many putts or scored as well as I played,” Nordqvist explained. “I feel like my caddie just told me to keep patient.”

On Saturday, that patience paid off as Nordqvist positioned herself for not only a run at her third major title but also a possible spot on the European Solheim Cup team. Nordqvist has been a member of every European team since her rookie year in 2009. The teams for the 2021 Solheim Cup will be finalized upon completion of the championship, and Nordqvist will need a strong finish to give herself a chance. She currently sits at No. 54 in the Rolex Rankings.

The top four ranked Europeans will earn a spot on the team. She’s currently eighth.

“Playing on the Solheim Cup is the highlight of my career,” Nordqvist said. “I’ve been fortunate to have done six, and fingers crossed I can do another one. Right now I am not in an automatic spot in the World Rankings, so keeping my fingers crossed for a pick.”

Nordqvist’s veteran status as a six-time member of Team Europe could be all she needs to earn one of Catriona Matthew’s six captain’s picks.

Either way, Nordqvist has a lot to play for on Sunday.

“You just never know when your hard work is going to pay off,” Nordqvist said. “You’ve got to keep plugging along and putting yourself in positions and all I can do tomorrow is go out there and try to shoot the best round that I can.”