The final women’s major of the year belongs to Anna Nordqvist.
The 34-year-old Swede shot a final-round three-under 69 on Sunday at Carnoustie in Scotland and made a drama-free two-putt par on the brutal par-4 finisher to win the AIG Women’s Open.
Nordqvist and Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark stepped to the final tee tied for the lead at 12 under, as three others at 11 under, including American Lizette Salas, anxiously waited in the clubhouse and hoped for a playoff. But after Nordqvist found the green in regulation, Koerstz Madsen hit her approach into the bunker and then her third shot off the hosel; her ball shot hard right of her clubface and ran through the back of the green. Nordqvist needed just two putts, and her first caught the lip and came to rest an inch away. Nordqvist marked, waited for her playing partner to finish and then tapped in for the win.
It’s the ninth LPGA win and third major title for Nordqvist, who also won the 2017 Evian Championship and 2009 Women’s PGA Championship. This win also snapped a lengthy winless drought, as Nordqvist’s last victory came at the that 2017 Evian almost four years ago.
“I think this is the most special one,” Nordqvist said. “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 and Koerstz Madsen shared the 54-hole lead at nine under and made up the final pairing, but 12 players started the day within three of the lead, among them World No. 1 Nelly Korda, two-time major-winner Ariya Jutanugarn and Lexi Thompson, who had a local caddie on her bag.
Minjee Lee was the first one to make noise. One month after she came from seven back to win the Evian Championship, she teed off four hours before the leaders on Sunday and charged up the leaderboard. Her only bogey came on 18, where she failed to take advantage of a lucky break when her ball bounced in and out of the legendary burn where Jean van de Velde’s Open dreams drowned in 1999.
Still, Lee shot a six-under 66 and set the clubhouse lead at 10 under, which stood until England’s Georgia Hall signed for a 67 about an hour later.
Nordqvist had the lead early on the back nine but let a couple of shots slip away on 11 and 12. On 11, she missed a short birdie putt that would have given her a two-shot lead, and on the par-5 12th she hit her drive into a hazard right of the fairway and made bogey.
Her playing partner, Koerstz Madsen, took advantage with birdies on 11 and 12 to grab the solo lead. After both birdied 14, Koerstz Madsen drove it in the fairway bunker on 15, was only able to advance it 25 yards and made bogey. That made it a two-way tie at the top at 12 under, but two groups ahead Madelene Sagstrom joined the mix. She played Nos. 9-14 in three under, and her birdie on 17 made it a three-way tie at 12 under.
Sagstrom could have set the new clubhouse lead, but her drive on 18 barely trickled into a fairway bunker and led to a two-putt bogey, as she joined Hall at 11 under. In the next group, Lizette Salas, who didn’t make a bogey the entire final round, also got in at 11 under. Salas shot 69.
After pars on 17, Nordqvist and Koerstz Madsen stepped to the par-4 18th, the hardest hole on the course, with a one-stroke lead and three players waiting in the clubhouse hoping for a playoff.
Nordqvist played her approach first and found the green from 195 yards out to put the pressure on Koerstz Madsen, who flared her approach out to the right and into the bunker. Needing to convert a difficult up-and-down from the sand, Koerstz Madsen misplayed the shot and made double. Nordqvist had two easy putts to win to conquer Carnoustie and become a major champ once again.
“Me and my caddie, Paul, were chatting when Nanna was putting,” Nordqvist said. “It just seemed so unreal and just to have a little tap-in for the win, like I couldn’t ask for anything better. Just to share the experience with him and knowing how hard he’s worked, and keeping patient all these years, yeah, it’s such a great experience sharing that with close friends and family.”