Maja Stark has fun at the Pelican Women’s Championship | LPGA

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This is not the regulation size. Saturday morning, for the third day in a row, Maja Stark incorporated a unique ride into her warm-up. Out of the bag came a green ball, the size of a volleyball, which she dribbled with her feet. A kick or two caught a few caddies off guard, but Stark followed his own pass, napping on the ball with his right toe and trotting away. With a few sidelong glances from spectators, Stark transformed the area between the driving range and the green at Pelican Golf Club into his own personal football field.

“I like to scare the caddies,” she said with a smirk after stepping out into the morning wave and shooting a 63 to get into position with one lap to go.

You might think the 22-year-old Swede might look serious. After all, in the past 14 months she has notched up four LET wins and a fifth that was co-sanctioned with the LPGA Tour, a five-stroke win in Northern Ireland that earned her a Stark LPGA membership. Tour and put her on the way to Naples. and the CME Group Tour Championship. But you would be wrong. Stark is one of the game’s less serious superstars, quick with a joke and always self-deprecating.

Then comes the question: given your success, have you ever splurged (on anything) this year?

“No, not really,” Stark said. Then she flashed a huge smile. “I bought Invisalign (the invisible teeth straightening system). It’s a thing. It’s a bit expensive. It is the most expensive. »

When asked how much, she replied, “Like $5,000.” The natural sequel, given the $2.3 million that’s on the line this week and the next: “Imagine what you could do,” to which Stark joked, “I know. Imagine what I could fix.

She is so worth following. Along with his quick wit and engaging personality, Stark is an extraordinary talent with a quick, athletic golf swing and a reel of iron shots that have devoured flags all year.

After three LET wins, which saw her lead the race to the Costa del Sol, she headed to Northern Ireland as one of the hottest players on the planet and shot rounds of 69-62 over the weekend to leave with the ISPS Handa World Invitational. presented by AVIV Clinics. Since then, she’s added a few more LET starts (and three more top 5s) to her schedule and currently sits second in this season’s race behind Linn Grant. The Pelican Women’s Championship is also Stark’s 10th LPGA Tour event of the season. She is No. 53 in the CME globe race and is looking to improve significantly with a strong finish on Sunday.

“Very intense,” Stark said when describing his year. “So I knew right away that I wanted to start playing on the LPGA Tour as soon as I got my card. But it was an adjustment just looking at the schedule and doing everything like that. I thought I would have been able to handle more, so I played about five events in a row. Then I got sick in the last event. After ISPS, I got sick again. So I still think that I can play more than I actually can because I get sick and hurt myself, so I have to stop doing that.

A well-deserved break recently seemed to do the trick.

“I haven’t played a tournament in three weeks,” she said. “I barely trained, to be honest, because I was sick and away as a coach.”

Wait, wait, coaching? Say it.

“Yes, I was with the Swedish (national) team in Spain,” Stark said.

When asked how she was received by that group of starry-eyed young Swedes who were to see her as a model, Stark smiled again. “I think they looked up to me too much at the start of the week,” she said with a wink. “I told them my goal for the week was that they wouldn’t look up to me anymore because they would get to know me and know how stupid I am, like with my decision making. I told them, ” I can tell you what not to do,” but then go your own way. Don’t just follow everything I’ve done in my career.

Most could only hope for the start of Stark’s career. No matter how things end up at Pelican, the lonely young woman kicking a ball on Sunday will head to Naples after having had a great time this week.

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