Anna Nordqvist has been quick to put into practice the message she has received from Northern Ireland’s professional women’s golfing legend, Michelle Wie, who announced last fall that she’d been doping in an attempt to keep up with the number of hours Anna had to train after deciding to make the transition from her native Sweden to the Emerald Isle.
“I have always wanted to be like Michelle,” Anna said. “I want to think of myself like Michelle.”
Anna certainly plays with the traits she desires, for example: She is a natural leader on the course who still brings a seemingly endless supply of energy every day, often avoiding practice on days when she’s simply too pumped up. And like Michelle, she has been able to adjust her golf skills to the quirks of her specialty, the women’s game. As a young teenager, she was so dedicated to learning the game that it caught up with her. Even now, she constantly confides in her caddie, like any young player would.
“If you spend seven hours a day on the golf course, you should have your mind on something else all the time,” Anna said, when asked about a recent practice day. “I got a stupid complaint. I was training too much and didn’t hit balls. I was standing around.”
“Sometimes, I’ll have no plans. For instance, if I have to go to the video room, I’ll go to the video room and watch videos of me making birdies and I’ll go to the room and just play with the equipment or kind of think about it,” Anna continued. “Then, I’ll go out to the middle of the green and hit a shot.”
“Sometimes I just have no plans and I say, OK, what’s going to happen and I go through my daughter’s tape of the game and I’ll show her my shots. My game will tell me what I’m doing wrong so I can fix it. And then I can take what I’ve seen and correct it,” Anna said.
Anna has been able to alleviate her worry with the mental game — that was one of the keys to success for Michelle. In May of this year, the pair teamed up to win the event now known as the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif.
“The first 18 holes, obviously we have big match marks. Michelle and I are both familiar with each other but I think that battle mentally, if you can say it that way, then that’s going to go a long way,” Anna said.
And Anna can be competitively fearless. At the U.S. Women’s Open, she thought she hit the perfect chip shot and reached for the pin until she thought she saw jagged teeth on it and smiled at the crowd as if to say, “just be glad I couldn’t do better.”
“It’s kind of humbling,” Anna said. “I’m like, you know, if I hit it better, I’m going to play a better shot. But it just works for some reason.”
Anna loves beating Michelle in her backyard, though Michelle notes it’s a thrill every time she plays against Anna.
“She has great technique,” Michelle said. “And she loves to hit it a long way and she’s a great sand golfer. She hits the ball so far. She’s an amazing example of a lady that I really tried to grow up to be like, kind of quiet and reserved but once she steps on a golf course, everything changes. She’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met.”
Anna has won two majors (Canadian Open, LPGA Marathon Classic) and played in the Olympics in both 2012 and 2016. She believes with some more luck she can be No. 1 in the world again. She has even caught some time with golf’s ultimate star, Tiger Woods.
“I think we got in the same bag and he showed me a few things that helped out,” Anna said. “He was a real nice man and we’ve stayed in touch. He’s also one of my best friends.”