Five times a finalist, LSU's Ingrid Lindblad finally wins Annika Award

Five times a finalist, LSU's Ingrid Lindblad finally wins Annika Award

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Generations were spanned Monday morning at Omni La Costa, site of this week’s NCAA Women’s Championship. Annika Sorenstam, the World Golf Hall of Famer, was there taping an award presentation for national female collegiate player of the year, which bears her namesake, to her fellow Swede and fifth-year LSU senior Ingrid Lindblad.

Lindblad is the first Swede to receive the Annika Award presented by Stifel, which was publicly announced on Tuesday, in what is now a decade of the hardware being handed out; Lindblad has been a finalist for half of the award’s existence.

“I’m so happy,” Lindblad said. “I’ve worked so hard for this; this is one of the reasons I came back for my fifth year, so it feels good to close my college career with this award.”

At that point, Lindblad’s career wasn’t quite over yet. She arrived at La Costa this week with 15 career victories, including the 2022 SEC individual title, and having finished in the top 10 in 42 of her 47 career starts – two of those five non-top-10s were T-11, too. This season, Lindblad won four times and hadn’t finished outside the top 5 heading into nationals.

Of course, it hasn’t been the ideal week individually for the world’s top-ranked amateur. Lindblad, who hadn’t carded worse than 72 all season, shot 9-over 81 in Saturday’s second round and followed that up with a third-round 75 to sit outside the top 100 with one round to play. Until Saturday, Lindblad had never not counted for the Tigers; she didn’t count Sunday as well.

Though on her final nine of Round 3, Lindblad found something. After breaking down in tears several different times in the previous 24 hours, including after losing her tee shot and double-bogeying her 10th hole of the day, the par-4 first, Lindblad received some advice from her assistant, Alexis Rather, who told her player to, “Just whack the ball!”

And so, following another bogey at No. 2, Lindblad wrote down on a piece of scrap paper, “Whack it!” She attached it to her pushcart and proceeded to play her final seven holes in 2 under.

LSU head coach Garrett Runion couldn’t really explain what happened to his star player, who for so long had been dominant and impervious to poor stretches, the past two days, only to reason the shocking performance was due to Lindblad, “Wanting to win so badly. She’s put a lot of pressure on herself this week.”

Lindblad returned to LSU for a fifth year, bowing out after winning last year’s second stage of LPGA Q-School, for a chance to chase more individual achievements, like the Annika Award, but also to finally lead the Tigers into NCAA match play and ultimately, a national team championship.

Unfortunately, Lindblad, who ended up T-65 in stroke play, couldn't accomplish the later, either. The Tigers, the No. 2 seed, fell to Oregon, 3-2, on Tuesday morning. Lindblad, however, won her match, 4 and 3.

Lindblad's consolation: receiving the Annika Award from her childhood idol, whom she first met 10 years ago while playing a junior-am for Sorenstam’s European junior event.

Since then, Lindblad has played in a handful of Sorenstam’s tournaments, all the way up the amateur ranks.

“I’ve kind of taken the Annika journey,” Lindblad said with a smile.

Those are big footsteps to follow, and soon Lindblad will take a big leap to the pros.

“It’s been so exciting to follow her journey,” Sorenstam said of Lindblad. “I’m very happy with what she’s done on the course and what she stands for with her character. To now see a Swede on there – there are some wonderful names on this trophy, and they have all gone on to do some great things. I see the same thing for Ingrid.”