Here come the Danes on the Ladies European Tour
For decades Sweden have been the dominant force in European golf. Annika Sorenstam has just been named as the Solheim Cup captain, the sixth Swede to land the role, and at least two players from the country have represented Europe in every biennial clash.
Now, though, their neighbours Denmark are making the biggest strides through a handful of young, vibrant big hitters who have either already won on Tour or are threatening on a weekly basis. Last year three of them finished in the top 10 of the Order of Merit, Nicole Broch Larsen (4th), Emily Kristine Pedersen (6th) and Nanna Koerstz Madsen (9th).
The latter two grew up playing at the same home club, Smorum, and were known as ‘the twins’. Come the 2017 matches there is every chance that one, if not more Danes, will make it on to Sorenstam’s side.
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There are more Danes on Tour than ever; Emily, Nanna and I have been competing since 15 and playing on the national team and same coach and pushed each other. Last year was great. Nanna started out with third in New Zealand and then I was third in China and Emily was second in Holland, so they had the rookie competition going on.
The Danish Federation are doing a really good work, we have some really good swing coaches as well as physio and mental coaches and when you turn pro you have the chance to stay with the same coaches. So it’s then not too big a step.
There are still things like sponsors but it is important to stick with the same people who helped you get to where you are. In the national team you get introduced to fitness and gym work at 14 and then it is more up to yourself when you turn pro.
If you are not doing it, you will see it in your results. We are good competitors, we all want to be winners but we are also good friends and help each other away from the course. If you have a bad week you can always talk to the other girls.
With the Olympics on the programme that is a great motivator. Everyone wants to go and it is a big competition for us Danes. We are known for our temper! Especially the young ones, we can get quite frustrated. It can be good and bad but we have to learn how to control it. We have a reputation on Tour maybe.
My highlights are obviously winning in Sweden last year, playing my first two Majors and finishing best European at the Evian and I was named Players Player of the Year on the LET. That is a big compliment, it is not just how you play but how you are and how you act and I am really proud of that award.
Three weeks before I won I was leading in the Czech Republic and I trebled 16 and lost by two. We then had a break of a few weeks and the tournament in Sweden was next. My only goal was to win, I was so focused and confident. And to do it was unbelievable.
I messed up in the Czech event and I was playing so well but you have to learn from mistakes and I definitely did that. The last six holes I was more nervous than ever before.
This year I’m only in the US Open at the moment, I will have to qualify for the Evian and the British but hopefully I will do that. I know I can do it but it is all about being in the process and doing the right things behind the scenes. It is a matter of time before I’m a Major winner.
NANNA KOERSTZ MADSEN: The 21-year-old on her heroics at the Women’s British Open
I knew a lot of the girls who would participate at the Q School in 2014 so I knew that I had a good chance. To finish with a course record 63 (-9) just gave me the best start on my professional career. That is what golf is about, shoot low. I love making birdies.
I have always been an aggressive player, but I have in the last few years figured out when to attack and when to back out. I don’t think I have ever been so nervous like I was on the 1st tee at the Q School. But after the first hole the tournament just felt like any other tournament.
The British Open was a huge experience – I had never been to a Major before. I equalled the best score of the week in last year’s Women’s British Open at Turnberry with a 65. I think it was the thought, I didn’t have anything to lose, so I could just go out and try to climb up in the field. My driving was good, I was on the right side on the flag and I had a really warm putter.
I had been really confused with my putter. I was trying everything, everything technical I’ve been through the last five years, and nothing worked. I just saw my old coach and he told me that it was just one thing I had to change, and then it just gave me some confidence.
I actually didn’t like links. It was really hard with the wind. But now I like it a little better. I don’t think I’m streaky. I would describe myself as a more steady player. My B-game is still good enough to compete in the top.
When I am not in tournament I will be in gym about five times a week. I don’t know how much gym the other girls do – but I know that it is a focus area for the Danish Golf Federation, so since I started on the national team I have always had a lot of focus on the fitness.
Follow Nanna on Twitter: @koerstzmadsen