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Anna Nordqvist, New Women's British Open Champion, Enjoys Greatest Career Triumph

It took four years for the talented Swede to win her third career major, but it arrived at a time when her personal life also happens to be thriving.
Anna Nordqvist prevailed by one shot at the 2021 Women's British Open.

Anna Nordqvist prevailed by one shot at the 2021 Women's British Open.

When it comes to Anna Nordqvist’s golf career, quality and quantity have not always been in perfect harmony.

The 34-year old Swede won her third LPGA major championship on Sunday, tapping in to capture the AIG Women’s British Open by one shot at Carnoustie Golf Links. On some levels, for Nordqvist, three majors doesn’t seem like all that much.

After all, she was highly regarded when she came out of Arizona State in 2009 and she won her a major championship in only her fifth LPGA Tour start that same year. That scenario sort of suggests she would be winning them regularly. Lots of them.

Soldered with Solheim Cup highlights, Nordqvist further developed her reputation as a cool customer, a terrific ball-striker, a big-time talent. Then she didn’t win another major until the Evian Championship in 2017 - eight years later. Then she didn’t win another until she prevailed at Carnoustie - four years, 1,435 days later.

Three majors in 12 years. Nothing to scoff at, to be sure. But, relatively speaking, doesn’t seem like all that many … until you put things in perspective. With another quality Nordqvist performance last week, on another quality golf course, quantity finally caught up with quality.

When Nanna Koerstz Madsen imploded while trying negotiate Carnoustie’s calamitous 18th, when others like Lizette Salas, Madelene Sagstrom and Georgia Hall stood down with their own missteps, Nordqvist’s third major became all about aggregate.

She snapped a streak of nine consecutive LPGA major championships falling to first-timer major winners. She became the first non-American woman to win majors in three different decades. She is only the third European woman - joining Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies - to win as many as three majors.

You want quantity and quality? You got it.

“Yeah, it's been a long time,” Nordqvist said afterward. “I had a good opportunity last year to win and didn't pull through. You question whether it's going to happen or not again. But knowing it's the British Open, it's been worth the wait."

She added: “I think this is the most special one. Just because it's taken me a couple years and I've fought so hard and questioned whether I was doing the right things.”

Nordqvist might have added to these unique numbers, might have more majors, if not for circumstances. At the 2016 Women’s U.S. Open, Nordqvist was in a playoff with Brittany Lang at CordeValle when a high-definition television viewer noticed she touched a spec of sand with her 5-iron as she prepared to hit a bunker shot to the 17th green. She wasn’t informed she was assessed a two-stroke penalty until she prepared her third shot in the par-5 18th hole. The penalty essentially sealed the victory for Lang.

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And that’s not all. Halfway through the 2017 season, Nordqvist was diagnosed with glandular fever (mononucleosis). The illness sapped her of her strength and effected her energy levels for some time.

Amazingly, she managed to win Evian just three months after the diagnosis. But she wasn’t out of the woods with the lingering issues.

“I don't think a lot of people realized how tough that was,” Nordqvist said. “And it took me a good three years just having no energy and don't feel like you have the mental strength or you don't have that extra gear that I've always been used to having.”

Oddly enough, Nordqvist suggested the Covid 19 pandemic, which has forced people in all walks of life to adjust their schedules globally, has forced her to make helpful changes.

“Covid was a blessing and a curse,” Nordqvist said. “Because it made me slow down my tempo a little bit, and I could be home a little bit more than I have been. And I've been pro since 2009, so just having … feeling like I've been at home (is helpful). I haven't been home for nine weeks, so I'm dying to go home tomorrow.”

Throughout her career on the golf course, excelling on tough golf courses, dealing with pressure-packed situations, Nordqvist has demonstrated an ability to stay composed and be patient. Now she also is showing it in one of life’s major events, as she waits to ceremonially marry her husband, Kevin McAlpine. The two officially were married earlier this year.

McAlpine, who grew up in Dundee, some 14 miles southwest of Carnoustie, is the son of Hamish McAlpine, a former standout goalkeeper for Dundee United in the Scottish Football League. Kevin McAlpine was a fine golfer in his youth and won the 2006 Scottish Amateur championship.

Since, he has been a highly regarded caddie, working the bag for Lexi Thompson, Amy Yang and most recently Martin Laird. McAlpine and Nordqvist planned to be married in a Scottish castle, but the pandemic put their plans on hold. They hope to have the formal affair next year.

“We have postponed our, what I would say real wedding or big wedding - the one with our friends and family - to next summer,” Nordqvist said. “It's going to be about 20 minutes away from here in a castle.

“But we did officially get married in the U.S. at our home club - Silver Leaf in Scottsdale, Ariz. - in March, with just us and six of our friends there. We had about 21 people on Zoom on 21 different accounts.

“It was a special day, and I can't wait to walk down the aisle again in Scotland next year.”

No doubt about it, in quality and quantity, Anna Nordqvist has had a fair share of “special days.”