Lindblad readying for her 2020-21 encore

PHOTO BY: LSU athletics.

It was easy to get a grip on LSU women’s golfer Ingrid Lindblad’s mindset.

The native of Halmstad, Sweden was already on the back nine of a fantastic freshman year when the 2019-20 season was halted March 13 by the NCAA because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a season marked by a pair of first-place finishes and three other top 5 finishes, it was easy to understand why Lindblad wanted to play through, especially for an LSU team that had climbed the national rankings and finished No. 12.

“I was really disappointed, I think we all were,” Lindblad said. “Actually, I don’t think we realized how bad the situation was from the beginning, so it took a while, at least for me to process it. We were really excited to go postseason and bring home some more hardware, but I guess that has to wait to next year.”

LSU was idle from play the weekend of the NCAA’s announcement. The Tigers were scheduled to play in two final regular-season tournaments, including serving as host in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic (April 4-5) before heading to the SEC championships in Birmingham (April 15-19).

The NCAA regional followed on May 11-13 with the NCAA championships scheduled May 22-27 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Unfortunately, not only was LSU unable to continue its promising season, but Lindblad had positioned herself as player with a viable opportunity win a national championship.

She finished as the nation’s No. 2 ranked player by Golfweek and No. 9 by Golfstat, having set LSU’s single-season stroke average of 70.33.

“I obviously had a great season and I think a lot of things went great,” said Lindblad, who enjoyed a career-low 6-under 66 on Feb. 16 at the IJGA Collegiate Invitational. “Adjusting to a new culture, new types of golf courses and a lot of other things were also a part of the season. A lot of parts of my game were great the whole season, some things actually improved during my first year which was really nice.”

Lindblad has been on the receiving end of a flurry of postseason honors highlighted by her being one of three finalists for the prestigious ANNIKA Award, symbolic of the nation’s outstanding female golfer.

While that honor went to Furman’s Natalie Srinivasan, Lindblad distinguished herself as LSU’s second finalist for the award since Madelene Sagstrom (2015), also a native of Sweden.

Lindblad was named first team All-American by both the Women’s Golf Coaches Association – the ninth player in LSU history to do so – along with Golfweek. She was also selected to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s All-Louisiana first team and Golfer of the Year.

It was quite a first season for Lindblad, who traveled nearly 5,000 miles to LSU where despite an extensive background during international play, neither head coach Garrett Runion nor assistant coach Alexis Rather ever saw her play.

“It was Alexis who wrote to me on (Facebook) messenger in June of 2018 and I committed in August the same year,” Lindblad said. “The whole process went by pretty fast, but I felt very happy with my decision. I also visited University of Kentucky but when I got to LSU, I felt welcomed and like this is the place I should be.

“Several Swedes had been on the golf team before me and I had only heard good things about LSU. We’ve had some Swedish golf team coaches visit LSU and they also had a lot of good things to say so I knew I visited a great school. I think the reasons I choose LSU were because of the campus, golf facility (University Club), the living and great atmosphere.”

Those remained strong enough motives, along with her academic pursuits, for Lindblad to rebuff efforts by the Swedish National Team to return to LSU for her sophomore year where she’ll serve as the unquestionable catalyst for next year’s team.

“As of right now, I definitely will come back for the fall of 2020,” she said. “I don’t have any plans on turning professional this year. The Swedish golf team and I have talked about turning professional, but I don’t think I am 100 percent ready for that yet.”

For the first time in 23 years, LSU won consecutive tournaments this season when the Tigers followed up a victory in the Prince Anne Invitational on Oct. 6 by winning the Magnolia Invitational at the Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.

Lindblad spearheaded the Tigers’ efforts, firing 10-under 206, finishing with a 4-under 68, to capture the tournament’s individual title.

It was the first of Lindblad’s two titles during her first season, the other taking place Feb. 29-March 1 when she carded a 4-under 212 when the Tigers won the Florida State Matchup.

Lindblad, who played 14 of 21 rounds under par for the season, was runner-up at the IJGA Invitational with a 9-under 207 and added a pair of top 5 finishes with a fourth-place showing Oct. 4-6 at the Princess Anne Invitational (4-under 206) and a tie for fifth on Nov. 1-3 at the Battle of the Beach (5-under 211).

She went on to earn additional accolades, first with an invitation to compete in the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and secondly a spot on the international team in the Arnold Palmer Cup.

However, both events were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, which hasn’t been as widespread in Sweden (population 10 million) compared to the United States (population 330 million).

Lindblad said that while there are no mandated stay-at-home orders, people are encouraged to stay home and avoid traveling in a country with confirmed cases of COVID-19 closing in on 28,000 with 3,460 deaths.

By comparison on May 13, the U.S. had 1.4 million confirmed cases and nearly 84,000 deaths.

“Businesses here are not doing that well and a lot of stores in the city have gone out of business because no one buys anything,” Lindblad said. “When it comes to golf, my practice facility and golf course has been open this whole time, but with restrictions.”

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William Weathers

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