The newlyweds team up for a week of their lives in St. Andrews


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) – They’re golf’s new power couple. Well, at least for the next few weeks.

After all, no other husband and wife would have played in the men’s and women’s British Opens in the same year.

No wonder newlyweds Alex Wrigley and Johanna Gustavsson had big smiles as they posed for photos on Swilcan Bridge in glorious sunshine towards the end of a practice round on the Old Course at St. Andrews on Tuesday.

For Wrigley in particular, these are pinch moments after years in the shadow of the woman he married just weeks ago.

While Gustavsson, a Swede, has established herself as a top player on the Ladies European Tour – she is third in the order of merit for 2022 – and has played in the women’s majors, Wrigley has spent more than a decade competing in regional qualifying events. have the chance to play at the British Open.

When he’s not taking part in satellite tours across Europe, he teaches golf in Sweden, where the couple live, and in his native England. Among those coached by Wrigley is Gustavsson, since 2016.

“Alex is always with me, supporting me in my career,” Gustavsson said from the bottom of the 18th green, standing proudly alongside her husband. “So it’s good that he’s been at the center of everything this week.”

That’s because Wrigley finally made it into the Open Championship this year after winning a playoff in final qualifying at nearby Fairmont St. Andrews last month.

Gustavsson was scheduled to play a LET event in the Netherlands this week. Those plans were immediately canceled – she was going to caddy for her husband at the golf house.

“I just had to be here,” she said.

And there she was on Tuesday, lugging Wrigley’s bag around the Old Course and offering her husband advice only when asked.

“Johanna brings a lot of experience to the role — she’s played at four or five majors before, in front of big crowds — so she’s very calm in those kinds of situations,” Wrigley said, explaining the dynamic on the journey between the pair. . “I just want some of that to rub off on me if possible.

“I’m learning a lot from her, certainly from the psychological part of things. She’s further along in her career, acting-wise, than me and has more experience on the big stage.

Wrigley, who earned around $7,000 for each of his two biggest wins as a pro, was nervous when he showed up at St. Andrews over the weekend, according to Gustavsson.

But she has seen him get used to crossing paths with the biggest names in sport. On Tuesday, he played his practice round with 1999 champion Paul Lawrie, a group ahead of Rory McIlroy. On Sunday, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry joined Wrigley on the seventh hole and they played the rest of the round together.

“It’s a different world,” Wrigley said, “but the more time you spend with them, the more you realize that all of these great players are also normal people. They’re down-to-earth people who are really good. golfing.”

Next week normal ordering will resume. Gustavsson will be playing major golf at the Evian Championship and Wrigley will be watching her. It would not be long before he returned to coaching, alternating between Orebro in Sweden and his home club in the northeast of England, Hartlepool Golf Club.

“I have a loyal following in Hartlepool that keeps coming back to me,” he said.

Wrigley will certainly have stories to tell them during their next lessons.


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