No-nonsense Hedwall on target at NCAAs
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Don’t expect Caroline Hedwall to wax poetic about her golf game. Oklahoma State coach Annie Young said the sophomore’s simple answers mirror her simple approach to the game: Hit it far, find the hole. Those who want to appreciate Hedwall’s game must simply watch and learn. She isn’t likely to tell you about it.
“She just takes the team and puts (it) on her back,” said Young, whose squad wouldn’t be at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship if not for the Swedish star.
“She has a confidence about her that’s special to see.”
Hedwall’s explosive spring puts her in contention for NGCA and Golfweek Player of the Year honors. She opened with a 2-under 70 Tuesday at the NCAA Women’s Championship and trails by three strokes at the Country Club of Landfall.
Review the numbers: Hedwall has three victories this spring, including an eight-stroke blowout at the Big 12 Championship. She hasn’t finished outside the top 4 in seven events this spring. She was a minimum of 6 under par in each of her victories. She’s ranked No. 1 by Golfweek.
“When she came to school in the fall, she had her goals set,” Young said. Rest assured, Player of the Year was on that list.
Hedwall opened the season with a victory at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Nevada, finishing 9 under. The next three events are the only reason she’s not a runaway POY; Hedwall failed to break the top 10 for the remainder of the fall.
On the par-5 18th Tuesday, Hedwall raised her putter to the sky in anticipation of a dropped eagle. The ball scooted past the hole, and she settled for a two-putt birdie. It was indicative of a round in which she overpowered Landfall’s Dye Course but couldn’t get much to fall. Hedwall used an 8-iron for her second shot into the closing hole.
“I like 18,” she said, smiling. “That’s a good hole.”
Hedwall, who turned 21 last week, has taken a more active approach in helping her teammates. She mainly leads by example, but does take time to show her young teammates how to tackle certain shots and situations. For a player of her caliber, Young said, the Swede is impressively team-oriented. Young said the only time Hedwall gets worked up nowadays is when she’s scoreboard-watching mid-round – watching team scores, that is.
It’s not surprising that Hedwall thinks in terms of “we.” She has a twin sister, Jacqueline, whom she speaks with every day. It’s a little tougher this week, however, since Jacqueline, who plays for LSU, went back home to Sweden after her team failed to qualify for the championship.
“It would’ve been more fun if she was here,” Caroline said.
After the NCAA Championship, Hedwall has a summer packed with big events. She’ll tackle the Women’s British Amateur, Women’s British Open, U.S. Women’s Amateur and European Team Championship.
Hedwall has yet to indicate that she plans to turn professional, but no one would be surprised if she left OSU after two seasons.
A victory here in Wilmington would be the ideal way for the No. 1 player to go out. Simply perfect.