In a golf cart with a homemade “LSU Mom and Dad” banner tacked behind it, Per Sagstrom and his wife, Lena, relished their journey to Baton Rouge from Enkoping, Sweden.
It’s a 9-hour flight from their hometown to New York, followed by an additional flight from New York to New Orleans. They make the trip once a year to follow their daughter and the LSU women’s golf team’s lone senior, Madelene, for a tournament.
“I think I play better when people watch me,” Madelene said. “I like to give a good show.”
The entire Lady Tigers lineup put on a show, blistering to an 8-under 280 in pristine conditions, taking a 13-shot lead into the final day of the LSU Tiger Golf Classic.
The score was the lowest since the University Club was renovated in 2010 and the fourth-lowest women’s collegiate score at the course.
LSU’s 36-hole score of 577 also sets a post-renovation record at U-Club, while Sagstrom’s 5-under 67 tied the post-renovation record.
“That was pretty low. Pretty fun,” said LSU coach Karen Bahnsen. “We really try to focus on trying to control things we can control. We’re not worried about watching the scoreboard or anything; we’re just playing golf.”
Sagstrom surged on the back nine, including back-to-back birdies on the par 4 14th and 15th to take a two-shot lead into the final day, leading teammate Elise Bradley, who carded a 68.
She played the 14th aggressively, booming a drive she’s practiced so many times over the water hazard to set up an easy up-and-down for birdie.
Standing just near the green after the drive, Per fielded a question from a near-incredulous onlooker.
“Man, what do you feed her to have her hit the ball that far?” the spectator asked.
“Practice,” Per laughed.
After putting her ensuing drive on 15 in a fairway bunker, Sagstrom set the approach within five feet of the cup, using precise backspin to let it stand. She tapped in for birdie to move to 5-under for the day.
“I like 14, for me the hole is not that hard, but I was surprised how good that drive was,” Sagstrom said. “On 15, I was really pleased with my bunker shot. I was just happy to be on the green and to be that close.
“I was pumped.”
After her round, Sagstrom and her parents were quick to prepare for Saturday night’s annual senior banquet, where Madelene will be the only player honored. Madelene predicted the obvious — memories would be shared, she would heap praise upon Bahnsen and the rest of her coaches and, of course, her mother would cry.
“She works her tail off,” Bahnsen said. “She’s playing within herself so well and over the four years to see her maturity come through, I’m really happy for her.”