Madelene Sagstrom grew up in Sweden about a half hour from where golfing great Annika Sorenstam was born.
By the end of the season, Sagstrom may carry the trophy named after Sorenstam back home to their native country.
The LSU senior is a finalist for the Annika Award, given annually to the nation’s top college golfer.
Like many other LSU athletes this spring, especially female athletes, Sagstrom is at the top of her game. She currently ranks No. 3 on Golfweek’s list of the nation’s top women’s college golfers and leads the No. 6-ranked Lady Tigers in pursuit of the title in their own LSU Tiger Classic this weekend at the University Club.
Sagstrom, who shared the individual title at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate earlier this season with teammate Carolina Nistrup, said she hasn’t gotten to this point by grinding harder.
She’s made a conscious effort to ease up on the intensity pedal — and it’s paid off.
“I had a big talk with my swing coach and my mental coach at the start of last year,” said Sagstrom, who is from the town of Enkoping, Sweden. “We made this plan and I stuck to it and I finally saw results and thought, ‘This is awesome.’
“At one point I was exhausted after every round, I felt so much pressure to do well. Now I’m just excited, excited to play at my home course and in front of my parents (who flew here for this tournament). It’s a different mindset for me.”
LSU coach Karen Bahnsen said Sagstrom has always had “an unbelievable golf swing.” Now she has the maturity to match.
“She’s coming into her own,” said Bahnsen, herself a former Lady Tiger golfer now in her 31st season as LSU’s coach.
The Southeastern Conference active leader in stroke average (71.05), Sagstrom just missed winning two events in a row when she lost a playoff in the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate.
She hasn’t won at the U-Club yet, but in nine tournament rounds there she’s 6-under par.
“She’s figured out what works best for her and is managing herself well on the golf course,” Bahnsen said.
In addition to Sagstrom and Nistrup, who is from Denmark, LSU’s five-golfer lineup this weekend will include Mandeville junior Elise Bradley, Carly Ray Goldstein and Nadine Dreher. Freshmen Claudia De Antonio and Sydney Cavin of The Dunham School will play as individuals.
The Lady Tigers have won the team title in their event seven times but not since 2005. LSU has had eight individual champions, most recently Megan McChrystal in 2010.
Arkansas’ Gaby Lopez won and led her team to the title last year.
There are 15 other teams in this year’s field, including No. 10 Wake Forest, No. 11 Mississippi State, No. 21 Central Florida, Tulane, Kentucky, Missouri and Notre Dame.
Tournament play begins Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. There is no admission charge.
Live scoring is available at LSUSports.net.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.