Hedwall enjoying rookie season in Europe

Caroline Hedwall during Round 1 of the Ricoh Women's British Open

Caroline Hedwall during Round 1 of the Ricoh Women's British Open

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The Hedwall twins arose before the sun in nearby Dundee, eager to tackle Round 1 of the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Caroline, the powerful Ladies European Tour rookie, struck the first tee shot at 6:30 a.m., a historic drive considering it marked the first time the women have played Carnoustie for this event.

Jacqueline Hedwall has looped for her older sister (by 45 minutes) on the LET since June as part of her summer internship. Hedwall, a senior at LSU and sports administration major, scored the coolest college internship to date, traveling Europe with her sister to get a sneak peek at life as a professional golfer. Caroline turned professional last fall; Jacqueline plans to attend LET qualifying school in 2012.

Caroline Hedwall, 22, opened with a 3-under 69 and sits two shots behind Brittany Lincicome, the clubhouse leader. She earned low-amateur honors at Royal Birkdale in 2010. American college golf fans will recognize Hedwall as the 2010 NCAA champion and Golfweek Player of the Year. She left Oklahoma State after three years to turn pro and won her first event, the New South Wales Open, in January. At the 2010 LPGA Q-School, Hedwall left disappointed with category 20 status. (Full rookie status is category 11.) But looking back, she’s glad she stayed in Europe.

“Last year, after all the Q-Schools and everything, I felt it was quite nice to be in Europe and close to home,” Hedwall said. “I’m not sure I’m ready to move to the States yet.”

In a dozen events on the LET, Hedwall has finished outside the top 22 only twice. She has a pair of victories in Slovakia and Finland and a runner-up finish at the Dutch Ladies Open. She tied for 12th last week at the Evian Masters.

“I didn’t expect to win twice already on the European Tour,” said Hedwall, “but I thought I was ready, and obviously I was.”

So far, neither Hedwall has any plans to play on the LPGA next year. Jacqueline will be on the bag in Ireland, and then will head back to Louisiana, where she’ll give a presentation on her summer excursions. Even though they’re twins, Jacqueline said she’s learned a surprising amount about her sister’s game inside the ropes. Caroline especially relies on her around the greens.

“I want to live in the States, but I don’t feel my golf is that good at the moment,” said Jacqueline, who finished 68th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

Hedwall leads the LET Rolex Rookie of the Year race and is third on the Order of Merit. She’s eighth in the European Solheim Cup standings and likely would need another victory to jump into the top 4. Euro captain Alison Nicholas does have four wild-card picks, however, and Hedwall should be on a short list.

“I think I have a good chance to get a wild card,” said the rookie.

Unless, of course, she wins this week.

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