There’s a reason winning multiple different majors puts you in elite company. Each major presents its own test. Tests of precision and mental strength, patience and dedication to the craft.
ANA Inspiration is about staying in the present on a course everyone knows.
The US Women’s Open tests the exact placement and requires a dexterous hand around the greens.
The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is about knowing when to attack and when to be conservative.
The Amundi Evian Championship is all about your ability to close heavily on a golf course where birdies are available and double boweys appear.
But the AIG Women’s Open, played on the classic links courses in Great Britain and Ireland, offers the most unique test as it requires players to be artists rather than engineers; that they play the game on the ground, along the pimples and knobs of the oldest golf courses in the world.
Although there is some overlap, no two degrees are alike. Because of this, only 22 players have won more than two different major titles since World War II.
# 22 joined that group on Sunday when Anna Nordqvist added the AIG Women’s Open to her previous KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and Amundi Evian Championship titles. Only two of the other 21, Jan Stephenson and Beverly Hanson, won only three majors with no reps.
It’s easy to forget that Nordqvist was a grain of sand away from possibly bringing it to four. In 2016, Nordqvist at CordeValle, San Jose, Calif., Was head-to-head in a playoff with Brittany Lang when the Swede received a two-shot penalty for accidentally hitting a grain of sand on her back swing from a fairway. Bunker was only recorded after high-resolution television images were examined in slow motion. This penalty resulted in a change in the rules of golf. It also threw Nordqvist off the hunt for another major.
“I think this is special,” said Nordqvist minutes after winning the AIG Women’s Open. “Just because it took me a couple of years and I fought so hard and wondered if I was doing the right thing. I also knew how hard my caddy worked so hard and I really wanted to do it for him too. My husband supported me so much too and all friends and family. And when the spectators are back and the adrenaline picks up again, I think this will definitely be my very special victory.
“There is just something about golf that drives me,” she said a few minutes later. “I probably hate losing more than I hate winning. … I hate to give up. I feel like things are coming together. I saw a lot of good last year and a lot of good this year. Be able to make things click; I felt like I was at the Scottish Open last week, I played really well. I hit the ball very well in this wind. I think that was a confidence boost for me. “
She was second in the field for the week on the green hit in regulation and would have been first if Thursday had been an 11 green hit day. On Saturday she hit 17 greens (and what she missed was by inches) and on Sunday she hit 15 greens and putt on all but one from the surface. In short, it was a groundbreaking clinic and exhibit on how to cope with the ambiguities of left-terrain.
It was also a lesson in how being comfortable with the rest of your life will bring you peace on the golf course.
“I moved back to Arizona (where she went to college) a few years ago and I absolutely love it there,” said Nordqvist. “I have a lot of support there. I’m married now and I think I’m a lot happier off course. So I have a good balance there. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I feel like you can’t really force anything. There were times when I doubted I would ever win again. With a few years between wins, I think it’s a dream to sit here now and win the (AIG Women’s) Open. I mean, I really couldn’t dream of anything anymore. Definitely worth the wait, definitely worth a lot of those fights and being able to prevail. But it was also a lot of hard work to come here. “
Nordqvist is tied with Mary Mills, who also has three majors, with 9 career wins. The other three major players are Beverly Hanson, who has won 17 times in her career; Betty Jamison with 13 wins, Nany Lopez, who won 48 times on the LPGA Tour, and Jan Stephenson with 16 wins.
Given how well she hits the golf ball, nobody believes Nordqvist is done collecting trophies. But no matter how many wins to come, this win at the AIG Women’s Open will remain special for all the right reasons.