- LSU Women's Golf photo
After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the collegiate golf season, LSU freshman Ingrid Lindblad
had less than 12 hours to absorb the hard-hitting reality of her freshman year snatched away from her. She was faced with having to return to her home country of Sweden without an idea of when she’d be able to return.
In the seat of head coach Garret Runion’s car at the airport drop-off, his first recruit to the LSU women’s golf program broke down in protest.
“I don’t want to leave, I love LSU,” Lindblad said to Runion, in tears. “I love my teammates so much. I don’t want to be apart from them.”
But the weight of a season effectively canceled on a freshman yearning to finish her inaugural year wouldn’t hold the later-crowned SEC Golfer of the Year down for too long.
Fast forward, a year later, and she and the rest of her Tigers are a No. 1 seed the Baton Rouge Regional, which gets underway on Monday.
- LSU photo
When the Halmstad, Sweden native first stepped foot onto LSU’s campus, Runion knew bringing in his first recruit would be a challenge, given a language barrier and another SEC school in the running for Lindblad’s commitment. Assistant Alexis Rather put Lindblad on the head coach’s radar, and Lindblad signed her letter of intent ranked 136th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
LSU knew the quiet 17-year-old was on the rise in international golf. A member of Team Europe in the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup, and the stroke-play champion of the British Junior Girls Championship, the accolades were only going to add up. But it was her everyday persona that made a lasting impression.
“She walked fast and walked with a purpose,” Runion said. “She ordered some baby back ribs with white pants on, so she had the confidence.”
The legacy of former LSU player and LPGA Tour winner Madelene Sagstrom was an excellent selling point, too.
“I felt very taken care of on my visit,” Lindblad said. “I wasn’t insecure about anything.”
Neither was Runion, who immediately detected Lindblad’s internal drive and knew just how quickly she’d make her mark, in a nearly identical fashion to Sagstrom. ANNIKA Award Finalist, SEC Player of the Year, first team All-SEC -- It’s hard to miss the crossover in their resumes, even this early in Lindblad’s collegiate career.
“It’s pretty cool to see that she’s done kind of the same thing I’m doing right now,” Lindblad acknowledged.
It’s a tone of conviction and certainty, one coming from a player who grew tremendously after her entire world shifted in March 2020. Golf never strayed away from her focus, no matter the location. She used an emotional separation from Baton Rouge to shape up her game. Swing adjustments and a laser focus on technique gave Lindblad two wins on her home soil, and the third European Ladies’ Team Championship in a row to the Swedish National Team.
Lindblad competed as a member of the Swedish Four, featuring Linn Grant
, Maja Stark
and Beatrice Wallin
-- all ranked within the top-10 of the world amateur ranking.
The Swedish Four (L-R: Lindblad, Grant, Stark, Wallin) have all won at least twice this spring
Her colleagues have nothing but an endorsement for their teammate.
Grant sees her as “unstoppable”. Stark calls her drive “contagious”. Wallin describes Lindblad as “someone you don’t want to meet in a match because you will have to bring your A-game if you will even have a chance of keeping the match going.”
Her success only building, when she returned to her Tigers, Lindblad was ready to pick up right where she left off.
It’s easy to label Lindblad as a creature of habit: Regimented workouts and stretches, the same three songs queued up ahead of every tournament (The Chainsmokers, Hov1 and Coldplay all made the cut). But the LSU sophomore knows it works for her, and it’s taken her to places like the U.S. Women’s Open and Augusta National.
She’d scoop up three top-10s in her return to collegiate competition in 2020, but finished the year off in a much bigger way than she started - with a trip to the U.S. Women’s Open. It wouldn’t be her first major, having competed in the AIG Women’s British Open in 2019, but she brought her best performance in her major career and finished tied for 30th.
The change of scenery gave Lindblad the midseason boost she needed.
“You have more seven to six irons into the greens than you usually have during a college tournament,” Lindblad said. “I feel like that showed that I know I can play golf on longer and tougher courses than we’re used to.”
She capped off that December with a 3-1 run to help give the International Team a big win at the Arnold Palmer Cup
; but her mind wasn’t on her fiery match play -- it was looking out for roommate and fellow Tiger, Latanna Stone
“She won her match and the first thing she came over and said was, ‘Did Latanna win her match?’” Runion recalled. “She wasn’t worried about her match. She was so excited when she (Stone) did.”
It’s Lindblad’s team-first focus Runion knows he can count on, which would eventually pave the way for a deep run at the SEC conference championships.
Lindblad with her ANWA invite (LSU photo)
Before that, Lindblad’s focus would have to return to herself, with a long-awaited trip to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur booked. Of course, as the first player from LSU to ever compete in the tournament, she couldn’t keep Baton Rouge too far, inviting her coach along for what would become one of the most memorable weeks of their lives.
“He was trying to wear purple every day so he would stand out,” Lindblad said, fondly remembering Runion clapping greenside for every holed putt, including five birdies on a back-nine rally on the second day at Champions Retreat that would tie her for the lead beside Rose Zhang
She’d fight on the final day at Augusta National to remain in contention, where her focus was on “picking a target and making a confident swing.” Momentarily, victory was in sight with birdies on 13 and 17, but her five bogeys throughout held her back from joining the playoff pack, finishing T3.
Two days later, she was right back at LSU, with a well-deserved individual and team win
at the LSU Tiger Golf Classic.
“I didn’t even have a practice round. I just went out and tipped a putt on the course and then I was done,” Lindblad said.
She cited rest as the way to go - and plenty of it was needed to face a deep SEC at the conference championship at Greystone Country Club, where her team would run away with the stroke play title
at 46-under, only to fall in match play semifinals to Mississippi State.
Looking back on the season, Lindblad felt her entire team finally came together for the start of the postseason.
“The whole team wasn’t playing that good at the same time, and then we kind of got it together at SECs,” Lindblad said, calling it her favorite memory of the season so far.
A record-shattering team performance put LSU in pole position for the number one seed
at the Baton Rouge Regional, which was celebrated with a 70 pound signature crawfish boil while learning the rest of the site’s competition.
“It was actually my first time having crawfish,” Lindblad said. “I was surprised at how good it was.”
Maybe the crawfish was a surprise to Lindblad, but a good performance at the Baton Rouge Regional is an expectation for the sophomore.
“I feel like some teams that come here (to The University Club, LSU's home course and host of the regional), they don’t really get the hang of it after one practice round,” Lindblad said.
Look for Lindblad and the Tigers to roll through the regional and make a deep run at the NCAA Women's Championship.