Nanna Koerstz Madsen was tied for the lead and chasing the biggest victory of her young career. But she also faced a tricky bunker shot on a golf hole that’s long been the site of memorable misfortune. Jean van de Velde, most notably, famously lost a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie and ultimately lost the 1999 Open Championship.
On Sunday, on the same par-4 18th, Koerstz Madsen found herself in trouble. Playing in the final pairing, she was tied with Anna Nordqvist for the AIG Women’s Open lead. But right after Nordqvist found the fairway and then hit the green in regulation, Koerstz Madsen, from the intermediate cut of rough, flared her approach out to the right and into a bunker. She now faced a difficult up-and-down for par, which would have likely been enough to force a playoff with Nordqvist, who had about 20 feet for birdie.
But what seemed destined for a drama-filled finish on the green had little, as Koerstz Madsen shanked her bunker shot right and well over the green.
“I was nervous all day,” Koerstz Madsen said. “Did really well in trying to still hit good shots, trying not to make mistakes and on 18, I tried to not make a mistake and that was the only thing I shouldn’t do.”
Koerstz Madsen needed to chip in from behind the green to save par, and she hit a good shot to about 6 feet, but it wasn’t enough in this scenario. She missed the putt and made double bogey. Nordqvist nearly made her birdie putt and then calmly tapped in her par to win the third major title of her career. Koerstz Madsen signed for a one-under 71 and tied for fifth.
“Nanna played really well,” Nordqvist said. “She made a lot of great up-and-downs, a great up-and-down on 17 and a couple good ones in the beginning. She’s a great player. She’s going to play well in the future. It’s tough to see that, finishing with a double. But she did really play well today.”
The 26-year-old Dane, who has three Symetra Tour wins and one Ladies European Tour victory in her career, finished the 2021 major season with two top-fives. She was also T3 at the ANA Inspiration.
“I’m really proud,” Koerstz Madsen said. “I had a chance all the way till 18, also on 18 fairway. So I haven’t even had a chance on the back nine on a Sunday yet, so I’m very pleased and I now have a way to get there, and I just need to finish the last hole as well. I’m really proud of what I’ve been working on and I do believe that it’s going to come in the future.”