The Swedes in next week’s Jabra Ladies Open won’t need to look far for inspiration when they tee up in the first-ever dual-ranking Ladies European Tour and LET Access Series event, taking place at Evian Resort Golf Club on May 31-June 2, which doubles as the European Evian Championship qualifier.
The top two players in the Jabra Ladies Open will qualify for the fifth major, which takes place from September 13-16 and boasts a prize fund of $3.85 million.
Swedish players have won the last two women’s Major Championships, with Anna Nordqvist taking out the 2017 Evian Championship in September and Pernilla Lindberg claiming the first Major of 2018 at the ANA Inspiration in California in early April.
Julia Engström, who only turned 17 at the end of March, is the youngest member of the tour and the leading rookie after a tie for fifth at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. The young Swede will be keen to qualify for her second appearance in The Evian.
As the winner of the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship, Engström had the opportunity to play in three Major championships in 2016, including the US Women’s Open, the Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship, where she posted the lowest amateur score, so she can’t wait to return to play on the same golf course.
“I’m really looking forward to the Jabra Ladies Open. I have had some time back home to practise and I feel ready for Evian,” said Engström, who won the European Team Championship for Sweden and competed on the European PING Junior Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup teams before qualifying for the Ladies European Tour in December.
“I played the Evian Resort Golf Course two years ago in the Evian Championship and it would mean a lot to qualify. It is a great opportunity to play against the best in the world.”
Engström has enjoyed a solid start to her professional career and has been inspired by the performances of her compatriots.
“I’m happy with the start of the season. Firstly, in Australia, it was a great start to have four tournaments in a short space of time and then I had a top five finish in Morocco, which was good for my confidence,” she said.
“It was so much fun to see both Anna and Pernilla win on the highest level. They are both incredible role models for me and the other Swedish girls. I have played practice rounds with them both and know them both. It’s really fun to see them win tournaments and play well. It was also really fun when Jenny (Haglund) won in Morocco and we could celebrate with her on the 18th green. It was a great week for the Swedes and the fact that a Swedish girl won made it even better.”
Last year, another Swede, Johanna Gustavsson earned one of the two spots in the 2017 Evian Championship after finishing second to Frenchwoman Isabelle Boineau and she is looking for another top-two finish next week.
Gustavsson said: “It's going be great coming back to Evian again. Obviously, I have some great memories from there, qualifying for the major last year. It was my first major and I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot from the experience. I was a bit nervous and it was an interesting first day because of the weather and then the round getting cancelled.
“It would be amazing to qualify again and of course that is of the goal for everyone. I really like the course and I know I've played good there before so hopefully it all comes together for me again this year.”
Another Swede looking to qualify is Lynn Carlsson, who tied for third in the 2017 Jabra Ladies Open when it was an LET Access Series event.
Carlsson, who recently achieved a career-best fourth place finish in the LET’s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, said: “I’m really looking forward to the Jabra Ladies Open. I played last year and the venue is just incredible, so I’m very happy about returning this year. It is very spectacular, challenging and a great golf course. The conditions last year were perfect and the golf course really fits my game. The views are just amazing in Evian!”
Carlsson has watched four different Swedes win The Evian, from Catrin Nilsmark to Annika Sorenstam and Helen Alfredsson to Anna Nordqvist, so she knows the importance of the event to Swedish and European golf history.
She added: “It’s one of my main goals this year and for my career, so it would mean a lot to qualify for it this year. I’ve dreamt of it my whole life and being so close to qualifying last year gives me even more motivation to make it this year.
“Watching Anna winning last fall was very inspiring and a huge accomplishment. It means a lot for women’s golf in Sweden, and for Pernilla to win earlier this year was great to watch and was an incredible achievement as well. To be from the same country as the last two major champions is something special. I think women’s golf in Sweden is at a high level at the moment and I believe we all get inspired by each other.”
There are 14 Swedes in the field of 132 competitors for the Jabra Ladies Open. A European qualifying competition for the Evian Championship was first introduced in 2014 before becoming the Jabra Ladies Open in 2016. The event joined the LET Access Series in 2017 and has progressed to become the first Dual Ranking event on the Ladies European Tour and LET Access Series this year.
photo Wagner Araujo
photo Jay Adeff