Ingrid Lindblad

Ingrid Lindblad gets ready to tee off at the Blessings Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., in early October 2020. Courtesy Walt Beazley

Sophomore golfer Ingrid Lindblad calls Halmstad, Sweden, home, but she has found a new home 5,000 miles away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Among many differences between the two homes of the world’s second-ranked amateur golfer, one stands out.

“I feel like you eat a lot of chicken here,” Lindblad said. “At the dining hall every day it’s chicken, chicken, chicken.”

Halmstad is just north of Copenhagen on the western coast of Sweden. It’s a beach town that embraces a contrast in weather extremes. In the summer, Halmstad residents flock to the beach to enjoy the warm weather before the cold and snow of winter comes. The winter season is a time when Lindblad hits the slopes and enjoys her time off from golfing. The climate does not allow for outdoor golf facilities to remain open year-round like it does in Louisiana.

Lindblad, or Iggy, as the team calls her, chose to come to LSU to take advantage of the year-round opportunity to fine-tune her game. Her coaches and peers in Sweden, like former LSU player and current LPGA player Madelene Sagstorm, influenced her choice by telling her she would be taken care of at LSU. Lindblad, now in her second year, feels even more at home.

Her freshman season was recognized with a plethora of awards. Lindblad was an ANNIKA Award Finalist, invited to play in the Palmer Cup for the international team and to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. She was named a First-Team All-American by the WGCA and Golfweek, SEC Player of the Year, first-team All-SEC, SEC Freshman of the Year and an WGCA All-American Scholar.

“She’s our Joe Burrow,” Head Coach Garrett Runion said on a broadcast of the team’s first tournament.

Before the fall season began, the sophomore revealed that her goals for this year are simple. She wants to win a tournament and be ranked the No. 1 golfer in the world. Through the first tournament of the fall season, she has made a case that she can fulfill those goals.

At the Blessings Invitational, she stuck with what she knows and was rewarded with the second-lowest score at 5-under. Before the tournament, she said she had been working to understand and manipulate the way she reads greens, particularly on uphill putts.

Learning to better read putts and improve her game are obstacles she can work on herself, but the larger obstacles the sport faces like gender equality and inclusion will require more of a collaborative effort.

As a young star, Lindblad has set her eyes on playing professionally but has been discouraged recently, due to golf’s growing gender gap. Lindblad shared that most of the female golfers in Sweden tend to be better than the men, but male players still receive more attention and compensation.

Lindblad does not know how to fix this problem but acknowledging that it exists should provide a foundation for reform. In her second year playing for LSU and being a top-ranked player, she has never been on the Golf Channel except for the coverage of the recent Blessings Invitational. Although this may cause frustration and a lack of ambition, Lindblad has chosen to use it for motivation.

Lindblad started swinging the clubs when she was just five years old at her home course in Sweden. However, she did not start off hitting a golf ball. Instead, she hit a tennis ball, so if the shot somehow would change course and hit someone, it would not hurt as much. After transitioning to a real ball at 14, she started competing in local tournaments.

In her time learning the game, she noted that the best advice she has received was to only play with the shots you have in the bag. In layman’s terms, do not try to create something that you do not already have perfected.

Today, her award list would have maxed out the character limit on Twitter three times if the pandemic wouldn’t have cut her freshman year short. In early March, Lindblad was informed of the situation that positive case numbers were rising in America, posing a challenge for her return home. With support from her coaches, she made the decision to return home promptly.

She recalled the anxiety of the circumstances. She had begun to pack up her apartment at 4 p.m. and had to catch a flight to Sweden the following day at 6 a.m.

In hindsight, she said the rush home was a wise choice. Sweden has had a substantially lower positivity rate than America, which allowed her to keep working on her game while she was home. Not only did her region in Sweden not impose lockdowns or quarantines, but there were several opportunities to remain in a competitive mindset. In the early summer months, fellow Swedish golfers created a group chat to keep playing golf and challenging each other.

The style of competition was not a regular one. Although case numbers were steadily low in Sweden, they had the choice to compete with one another from a course of their choosing to reduce the number of exposures.

While home, and when not golfing, she was able to reconnect with her family, whom she only gets to see in the summer and for Christmas. She has an older brother and several golf coaches who she remains in contact with while she is home in Louisiana.

Runion is setting an example for coaches when dealing with international players. He has said that he is there to be an extra set of eyes for instruction, rather than be the sole instructor. He works with the players’ home coaches to best develop their games. Also, he wishes not to send different messages when coaching, not to confuse the player, so he specifically works with the players’ instructors to deliver one singular message.

On Oct. 19, the Tigers will receive this singular message from their coaches: continue the greatness. The squad will travel to Starkville, Mississippi, to compete in the Ally Invitational, hosted by Mississippi State at the Old Waverly Golf Course.

This tournament will have to follow the same mandates from the SEC. The teams will only be from the SEC, and teams will play together in the same pairing. So far, this format along with health and safety protocols has worked in mitigating any spread of COVID-19. No SEC teams have reported any new cases.

For Iggy, she is confident in her swing and that her game is in a position where she can excel. Louisiana is lucky to have Lindblad, and in time football players will be told that they are the team’s “Ingrid Lindblad.”

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