Eyebrows were raised when Nanna Madsen recently left the University of South Carolina halfway through her freshman year to try to earn a Ladies European Tour card. The Dane proved it was the correct decision on Dec. 21 by upstaging the professionals to take the top card at the LET Qualifying School in Morocco.
The 20-year-old from Copenhagen won thanks to a final-round 9-under 63. Her 17-under-par 343 at Samanah and Al Maaden golf clubs in Marrakech gave her a two-stroke advantage over England’s Georgia Hall, who had led for each of the first four rounds.
Madsen began the final round six shots adrift of Hall, but made 10 birdies and dropped just one shot. Six of those birdies came on her final nine holes.
“I didn’t expect to win,” Madsen said. “I mean, I did see a low score on this course but I was surprised that I made six birdies on the back nine.”
Madsen was Golfweek’s pre-season top-ranked freshman. She won once for South Carolina and didn’t finish worse than 10th in all four fall starts. She became the first freshman in South Carolina history to win a fall tournament, and ended the fall ranked No. 4 in Golfweek’s rankings. She began the LET Q-School at No. 3 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Germany’s Sophia Popov took the third card. The University of Southern California graduate finished at 14-under 346.
Madsen’s Danish international teammate Emily Kristine Pedersen finished fourth. She was one of five amateurs along with Madsen to earn cards for the 2015 LET season. The others were Anne Van Dam of The Netherlands, England’s Emma Goddard and Csilla Lajtai-Rozsa, who becomes the first Hungarian to earn an LET card.
Former Arizona State and college No. 1 Louise Stahle made up for the disappointment of missing out on a full LPGA card by finishing eighth.
Players on 1-over or better earned cards for the 2015 season, with 34 players (the top 30 and ties) graduating to the main tour.
Among those missing out was former Baylor player Lauren Taylor, who in 2011 became the youngest winner of the Ladies’ British Amateur Championship at age 16. Taylor, who plays at Woburn Golf alongside good friend Charley Hull, placed T-41.