Swede seeks return to top form in NZ

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013
Anna Nordqvist
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FOCUSED: Anna Nordqvist, of Sweden hopes to win the New Zealand Women’s Open next week.

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Major winner Anna Nordqvist says she is excited about her first visit to New Zealand and exploring the "spectacular" scenery, but says she is too competitive not to think about winning too.

The 25-year-old world No 28 is one of 32 LPGA players heading to Christchurch next week for the New Zealand Women's Open at the Clearwater Golf Course.

And while the Swede is one of the tournament favourites, she will have plenty of tough competition in the 54-hole tournament.

There is another major winner, fellow Swede Sophie Gustafson, in the field as well as the tournament's previous four winners, Gwladys Nocera (2009), Laura Davies (2010), Kristie Smith (2011) and Lindsey Wright (2012).

The tournament's top ranked player is American world No 19 Angela Standord.

The crowd favourite, however, and genuine title contender, is Kiwi Lydia Ko.

Ko, the world's top amateur is ranked the 38th best player in the world and is in form.

Nordqvist knows it is not going to be an easy three days.

"I am a competitive person by birth so of course winning . . . has always been what's fired me up," she said.

"I have never been to New Zealand before but it is one of those places that I always wanted to go to. I have heard the nature is quite spectacular and I am hoping to have time to explore some of the country while I'm there. I have a good friend that is from Christchurch . . . I can't wait to get there."

Nordqvist's rise up the women's ranks has been impressive.

Just a year after turning professional, her first win was a major, the 2009 LPGA Championship.

She cruised home in that tournament, winning by four shots from last year's New Zealand Open winner, Wright.

Later that year, after playing in the European side in the Solheim Cup, the women's equivalent to the Ryder Cup, Nordqvist won the Tour Championship.

She has not reached those giddy heights again, but feels her game is coming right and just in time for a third crack at the Solheim Cup.

"I played really solid and consistent last year with many top 10 finishes. My putting was disappointing for the most part last year so I never felt like I got anything back.

"It is a Solheim Cup year so obviously that is on my mind [too]."

❏ The 72-hole Canterbury Strokeplay championships brought several golfers down to size.

Nelson's Ryan Chisnall won, at six-over, by a whopping eight shots as the weather and the difficult Clearwater Golf Course both showed their teeth.

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The women's 54-hole tournament, played off the yellow tees, was won by Methven's Yee Yeon Kim at 10over par and she won by 11 shots.

And because On The Tee thinks the average club golfer probably enjoys stories of top players struggling, we thought we would give you a couple more.

Rounds in the high 80s and 90s were commonplace on Saturday with one player, playing off a 3.0 handicap, shot 101 including an 11.

Another golfer lost five balls in two holes as he made an eight at the par four eighth, followed by a nine at the par three ninth. On the ninth, the +1.7 golfer hit his tee shot in the water then two more balls followed suit from the drop zone. Even the top golfers found it hard; Canterbury No 1 Jordan Bakermans narrowly missed a par putt at the par-three 16th - no shame there. But Bakermans mis-hit his tap in, which went off his own foot and into the hole. Once the penalty was included, Bakermans took a six.

❏ The Hororata men's team were narrow victors in the Central Masters interclub final at the weekend.

The team of Paul Collins, Murray Gardner, Ross Workman, Stuart Oliver, John Morten and Ray O'Malley beat Tai Tapu 5-4 at the Burnham Golf Course.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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