April 12, 2018 / 5:28 AM / 2 months ago

Golf: Surprise major champion Lindberg still unheralded

(Reuters) - Pernilla Lindberg waited her whole life for the day she can step onto the first tee and hear the starter introduce her to the crowd as a “major champion”.

Apr 2, 2018; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Pernilla Lindberg jumps into Poppies Pond after winning the the ANA Inspiration women's golf tournament off a playoff at Mission Hills Country Club. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Despite winning the first women’s major of the year at the ANA Inspiration two weeks ago, the Swede is still waiting.

“They didn’t announce it that way this morning and I was kind of waiting for it,” Lindberg said after the first round of the Lotte Championship in Hawaii on Wednesday.

“I actually tend to like when they just say ‘From Sweden, Pernilla Lindberg,’ because they get to the point. Today I was like, ‘Is it coming or not coming?’”

Lindberg secured her first professional victory by defeating seven-times major champion Park In-bee in a playoff at the eighth extra hole in Rancho Mirage, California.

The 31-year-old, who shot a two-under-par 70 on Wednesday to trail first round leader Shanshang Feng by three strokes, said life away from the course has been a blur since her victory.

“Probably been my least productive practice days leading up to a tournament ever,” she said. “Everyone wants to come up and say hi and congratulate me. I say, How often does this happen? Of course I want to do it. I want to enjoy it and embrace it.

“I was on the putting green for probably two hours yesterday and actually got 30 minutes of work in.”

Her victory at the ANA Inspiration counted for nothing when she got back on the course, she added.

“Basically it’s been hectic, but once you’re out there the golf ball doesn’t know if you’re a major champion or not,” said the Swede, who arrived in Hawaii late on Sunday.

Lindberg’s parents Jan and Gunilla, who had been in California to see her nail-biting win over Park and taken the traditional plunge into Poppy’s Pond with her to celebrate the victory, had also traveled to Hawaii, she said.

“They actually spent last week in Maui, so I think they needed some time to recover after all the nerves I put them through,” she added.

Writing by Peter Rutherford in Seoul; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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