Both personally and professionally, 2021 has been a fantastic year for nine-time LPGA winner Anna Nordqvist.
The 34-year-old from Eskilstuna, Sweden, married caddy Kevin McAlpine, won the AIG Women’s British Open for her first major in four years, and then was a member of the winning team for the European Cup Solheim, where she compiled a 2 record of -1-1 and was the first player to come out in singles Sunday against Lexi Thompson of the USA team. Now a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., Nordqvist recently spoke with Golfweek about her major victory at Carnoustie in August and how she teamed up with a new putter and prop company, Swag.
David Dusek: So 2021 has been a year for you. It’s pretty much all together. Did we use more aquavit during your marriage or after winning the Solheim Cup?
Anna Nordqvist: Uh, well, I’m actually not a heavy drinker, so I have to say it was probably more champagne in the trophy. And I don’t really like champagne, so it was mostly consumed by my team.
DD: Did you learn how much champagne can hold the trophy?
AN: No, I should probably ask my cart. I think it’s a bit, so I’m going to have to ask the boys to see how much it actually fills up.
DD:. I imagine that was a pretty special thing. Carnoustie has seen its share of carnage among men. Over 15 minutes of playing the last hole, it had to be one of the biggest emotional leaps you have probably ever had as an athlete. Outwardly you remained calm, but inwardly you must have gone mad.
AN: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been a pro for I don’t know how many years now and I live for the times of pressure. I like to go down the straight line and even have a chance. I play better knowing I have a chance than when I’m totally out of the game and fighting for 65th place.
Carnoustie is such a difficult golf course and on the last four holes you can’t really lose your focus. These holes, as we all know, will only eat you up. After hitting my lag putt on 18, and knowing I had like a 1 inch putt for the win, that’s when I finally got over my emotions a bit, but you’re so focused on what you do. You stay in the moment.
DD: Every player wants to win a major league, but the winners at some sites get a little nod. Almost like a bonus point for winning a US Open at a place like Pebble Beach, Oakmont or Winged Foot. I asked Paula Creamer about this a while back because she won at Oakmont and she kind of recognized it. Carnoustie is known to be one of the toughest venues in the British Open. Do you feel like your peers are giving you a little bonus because you won at Carnoustie?
AN: Yes, I think I have learned over the years not to listen too much to what everyone thinks of me and thinks about my accomplishments and my playing. I appreciate all the support I get, but for me personally, that’s all I could have asked for.
If I had to choose between St. Andrews and Carnoustie, I would play Carnoustie every day because I think Carnoustie is such a more difficult golf course. And for me, it couldn’t have happened at a better place. So this is something that I will be extremely proud of for the rest of my life knowing that I won the British Open at Carnoustie. If my peers think it’s better that I win there than anyone else… I just found out that I can’t live my life based on what everyone thinks of me and my comments and stuff like that. But for me personally, there is no golf tournament in a better place that I could win, and it is something that I will always be proud of.
DD: On the equipment side, you play a Swag putter. It is a relatively small and new brand. It all started in 2017. How did you find out about the brand?
AN: So, I met the owner, Nick Venson, and the tour rep here in Arizona. He had a few putters around. Over the years I have ridden a lot of different brands. I used to change every two or three months because I never really liked the feel of a putter. So when I came out he had a few putters that I like, kinda normal like the Anser style.
DD A heel-toe weighted blade?
AN: Yeah, Swag calls it the Handsome Too, the model I use. I’ve gotten into a few mallets over the years, but I always tend to come back and saw that he seemed to have had the most wins with this style (heel-toe weighted blade). I used to always change every two or three months and that drove my old shopping carts crazy. They were like, “Why are you switching putters again,” but I always didn’t like the feel or the way it comes off. I am really a sensitive player and I like to feel the ball coming out of the face. A lot of them, I refer to the fact that it’s almost like a marshmallow, it’s so sweet with all of those inserts that companies have started adding over the years. Either it just comes out too firm or you can’t feel the ball. It’s like a delayed hit.
So I think when I asked (Nick) if I could try a putter I think it was 34 inches and I’m 36 now. So, it was more just to get an idea. It was almost like love at first sight because I could finally feel the ball coming out of the putter. I mean, Nick has so much experience. He worked for Scotty Cameron, worked for Bettinardi, so he knows what he’s doing.
The cool thing about Swag is that they can build you anything you want. Any style, any color, any tree. So they ended up making me a black one, so that’s what I have in my putter now. So then they made me (another) black in January and I put it on the line at the Australian Open and I think I had my first top 10 in a long time, at the start of the last year. (Since then) I haven’t changed my putter. We messed up the lofts and the lees a bit, but I haven’t changed my putter since 2019. It’s huge for me because it’s been over a year and a half.
Obviously now being on board with the team has been such an amazing opportunity for me, but I don’t know if you’ve seen my golf bags this year….
DD: Oh, you can’t miss them.
AN: It was really good! I played at a charity event yesterday, and you know how they take your bag as a backdrop and yours goes among the 50 bags. So I was just sneaking in and I was like, “OK, here’s my bag. I could see it.
DD: That’s the putter headgear you got, that Queen had covered, that’s what they did. Did you ask for it or did they bring it to you?
AN: So they did it for me as a surprise. Swag makes all of these personalized headwear, like shoe drops, great every now and then and these headwear sells out in minutes, sometimes seconds. So after my win at the British they literally, I think on Monday showed me a picture of his headgear that they were doing. They call her a Swedish queen and if you take a close look there is actually my trophy in it.