No one needed to look at the leaderboard at the European Nations Cup on Sunday, when Anna Nordqvist’s birdie putt fell on the par-five 9th hole.
The huge crowd around the green erupted: “Sverige! Sverige! Sverige!”
With that stroke, Nordqvist forged an one-shot, final-round lead for herself and partner Sophie Gustafson, who represented Team Sweden in the 18-nation, competition held at La Sella Golf Resort in Alicante, Spain.
Fueled by nationalistic fervor, the duo made four more birdies on the back nine, surging to a three-stroke victory over England and Germany. Playing a variation of foursomes, Nordqvist and Gustafson paired for a four-under 68 and 267 total in capturing back-to-back titles for their country. Sweden became the first nation to retain the trophy in the event’s four-year history.
“It was absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t be happier, standing here,” Nordqvist said. In front of a bank of waving Swedish flags, she rolled in a final birdie putt on the 18th after Gustafson chipped to three feet.
“It means a lot having so many Swedes around here cheering us on,” Nordqvist said. “They had this birdie song today so you want to laugh every time they did it. They made a big effort to come here.”
After an outward 31 featuring six birdies and one bogey, the English pair of Laura Davies and Melissa Reid catapulted into contention. But their challenge stalled on the back nine, which lacked similar fireworks – except for Davies’ monster eagle putt from across the green at the last. They shot 66.
“I must admit, when we made the turn and Mel made that great putt on nine, I thought, ‘We’re in here,’” Davies said. “I really thought we were going to have a strong chance, but we’ve not had one good back nine the whole week. Again, apart from that one good putt on the 18th we struggled on the back nine.”
Following England and Germany, Wales finished in fourth at 17 under, which was carded by Becky Brewerton and Lydia Hall. The Australian team of Karen Lunn and Katherine Hull, which set the pace with a 65 on the first day, made a big move during the final round, too. Their 66 and 16-under total moved them into fifth place, three shots clear of Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Karine Icher from France.
The US duo of Christina Kim and Brittany Lincicome ended a shot back in a tie for seventh with Spain’s Azahara Muñoz and Maria Hernández.
The next Ladies European Tour event is the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, May 5-8.