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INDIAN WELLS, California — For Casper Ruud, the annual trip to the Coachella Valley for the BNP Paribas Open is a sportsman’s dream. He can pursue his profession as a tennis player, but still sneak out on off days to get in a few rounds of golf.
“They call this a tennis paradise, but I think it is a golf paradise, too,” Ruud said after a three-hour marathon victory over Lloyd Harris, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Rather than talk about the match Monday, his ninth win in a row on the ATP Tour including a win last week at San Diego, the 10th-ranked Ruud wanted to talk about a golf milestone.
“I have to brag a bit. I shot the best round of my life,” Ruud said of his trip to the desert this year. “I shot 71 at the Stadium Course at PGA West.”
Before getting too excited by that score, however, Ruud quickly admitted that he has since returned to the Stadium Course and his score wasn’t nearly as good the second time. And after beating his friend and playing partner in the first round, it was the friend who gained revenge in the second round.
Diego Schwartzman of Argentina returns to Casper Ruud of Norway during their round four match of the BNP Paribas Open, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Indian Wells, Calif.
While Ruud certainly didn’t play the Stadium Course from the same tees as the pros in The American Express PGA Tour event last January, and the course certainly wasn’t set up as tough as it can be for the PGA Tour players, Ruud’s 1-under 71 last week was better than some of the final-round scores of players like major championship winners Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker last January.
A five-time winner on the ATP this year, Ruud admits that he brings his own golf clubs with him on trips to the United States.
“It is different in Europe,” Ruud said. “In the United States, there is a golf course around every corner, You can always find a golf course.”
Ruud said his friend in the desert loves to play golf as well and is a good tennis player who Ruud can practice with when in the Coachella Valley. Having played two golf rounds with the friend so far this month, Ruud said there are plans to get back to the Stadium Course and play a third match for some bragging rights.
Norway a sporting power
As a top athlete from Norway, Ruud has even had a chance to cross paths with another top star from that country, golfer Viktor Hovland. Hovland is ranked 15th in the Official World Golf Rankings and just became the first Norwegian to play in the Ryder Cup for the European side. Hovland is a little more than a year older than the 22-year-old Ruud, but they did attend the same sports academy at the same time.
“I know him a little bit,“ Ruud said. “I think I watch more of his golf than he watches of my tennis.”
Ruud said he is happy that Norway is becoming known for more than just winter sports. His own tennis – where he is a threat to make the ATP finals later this year – and Hovland’s appearance in the Ryder Cup is only part of the surge of Norwegian athletes. The country also won two gold medals in track and field in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
As for the tennis Monday, Ruud rallied after dropping the first set in a tiebreaker to Harris, seeded 26th at Indian Wells. Tied at 4-4 in the second set, Ruud broke Harris to take a 5-4 lead and then served out the set to force a third set. An early break in that set sent Ruud to the victory.
The victory leaves Ruud on track for a potential sixth win in the 2021 year. But it also means he’s staying in the desert a little longer, which means more golf.
“That will be nice,” Rudd said.