Linn Grant: Swedish golf’s rising star hopes historic win is watershed moment for women’s game



CNN

When Linn Grant left the course at Halmstad Golf Club in Tylösand, Sweden, she found herself surrounded by a group of young fans.

Asking for anything and everything in the Swede’s golf bag, they excitedly waved their pens in the hope of getting an autograph. Grant duly obliged, signing from hats to golf balls.

It was a buzz worthy of a historic achievement: Grant had just become the first woman winner on the DP World Tour with her victory in the Scandinavian mixed event on June 12.

And as if making history wasn’t enough, he did it in dominant fashion, sweeping through the field of 156 players. A weekend-best eight-under 64 on the final day sealed a landslide victory, with Grant’s 24-under par to finish nine shots clear of runners-up Marc Warren and compatriot Henrik Stenson, and 14 shots ahead of the next player. Gabriella Cowley.

The win was made even sweeter by the fact that it was a home win, in every sense of the word. Groom Pontus Samuelsson caddied, with friends and family lining up in an ecstatic Swedish crowd.

“The atmosphere in there, I could feel it,” Grant told CNN Sport. “I felt it was just because I was from there, but after I was sitting in the car on the way home, I saw calls on social media, reporters approaching, it all grew … it’s kind of crazy” .

Grant and boyfriend Pontus Samuelsson celebrate the win.

Minjee Lee’s victory at the US Women’s Open a week earlier had seen the Australian earn $1.8 million, the biggest payout in women’s golf history. However, Lee’s unprecedented earnings were overshadowed by the major record $3.15 million that England’s Matt Fitzpatrick took home to win the men’s event just a week later.

With her historic win in the world headlines, Grant is optimistic that her success will help the women’s game take another step forward.

“I think a lot of people can relate to women’s golf,” maybe even more so than the men’s game, she said, because “they [men] so far and the courses are not long enough.”

“I hope it has some kind of effect that people look at it and see that we’re such a good bunch of players, hit the ball far enough, hit it close enough, stick the putts and score well.

“I just hope more people notice. And then we look better and are nicer too!” Grant added with a laugh.

Having turned just 23 a week after the win, victory in Halmstad marked the latest pinnacle of what has been a meteoric rise for Grant since turning pro in 2021.

Three wins in four months on the Ladies European Tour (LET) have helped Grant move into second place in the rankings in The Race to Costa del Sol, a 28-tournament LET season that will crown a winner at the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open of Spain in november Incredibly, he leads the chasing pack despite having played the fewest events of any of the Tour’s nine leading scorers.

While some players struggle with the jump from amateur to pro, Grant has thrived.

Grant is in the hunt for The Race to Costa del Sol after a string of wins.

“My last year as a fan, whenever I left the win zone, it was almost like I wasn’t motivated anymore,” Grant said.

“The feeling that I’m playing for money now, which is my life, suddenly I feel like it doesn’t matter [dropping out of the zone]. If I can just birdie the last, I can still win more than if I didn’t.”

The only player who beats Grant in The Race to Costa del Sol is childhood friend Maja Stark. Teammates with the Swedish national team since childhood and students at the same high school, the duo share a close bond.

“I always encourage her and hope she does the same for me, which I know she does,” Grant said.

“It’s nice to have someone there who knows the situation you’re in and can talk about things that other people can’t or just don’t understand.”

Puts Stark in the Scandinavian Mixed.

Not that their friendship has stopped Grant declaring a desire to pursue and defeat Stark in Spain as one of his key goals for the season.

With Johanna Gustavsson trailing behind Grant, an all-Swedish trio at the top of The Race to Costa del Sol reflects the Nordic country’s dominance of the LET and the rising stock of golf in Sweden, which has already created a legend in this sport

In Annika Sorenstam, Grant has a role model. Sorenstam, co-founder of the Scandinavian Mixed event, forged one of the greatest careers in women’s golf history with 10 majors and 72 LPGA tournament victories before her professional retirement in 2008.

Tournament hosts Annika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson receive the Scandanavian Mixed trophy.

Grant cites two reasons for the recent rise in the country’s top female players: the Swedish Golf Federation’s investment and effort to grow the game and, paradoxically, the harsh Nordic climate.

With snowy conditions shortening the country’s golf season, Swedish players have to work extra hard to maximize training, and Grant uses the “lost” practice time for other activities that will help his game, such as now the gym.

“We don’t get to play 12 months out of the year, which gives you a bit of a thick skin,” he explained. “It’s zero degrees, you just go out there and hit wedges or whatever you need to practice.”

With her historic win at the Scandinavian mixed event, it seems the attitude is paying off and helping Grant in her mission to grow the sport and act as a role model, not just for women , but for everyone who plays it.

“If this win can help someone or just give them a little extra motivation, I’m happy,” she said.

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