A healthy Anna Nordqvist could be dangerous at ANA Inspiration

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A healthy Anna Nordqvist could be dangerous at ANA Inspiration

LPGA Tour

A healthy Anna Nordqvist could be dangerous at ANA Inspiration

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – It feels like Anna Nordqvist is building toward something, and this might be the week everything falls into place for the statuesque Swede. She looks fighting fit these days, a welcome improvement from last year’s bout with mono and subsequent low immune system. Her second career major at last year’s Evian Championship came when she least expected it.

“I mean, walking up to the first tee and getting announced as two-time major champion,” said Nordqvist, “I think it’s moments like that you really like feel proud.”

Given the long wait between majors (eight years) and the 2016 heartbreaker at the U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle, when Nordqvist was penalized for brushing the sand with her club in a fairway bunker, a graze that could only be seen in high-def video footage, the Evian victory was especially sweet. That rule, of course, has since been changed by the USGA. Nordqvist handled the immediate aftermath like a pro’s pro.

Nordqvist didn’t have a coach for several months last season until she began working with Cameron McCormick at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open. She was so sick at Trump National, however, and in the months that followed, that she never had the chance to put in the reps in that she wanted.

When she got back to work in January, Nordqvist made several trips to Dallas to work with McCormick on every aspect of her game. She also signed with PXG and has adjusted to new equipment.

“I think I lost a good five yards, sometimes even 10 yards, last year being sick and not being able to really go after it in the swing,” she said. “So I think a lot of the work was just getting back to – not where I was – but the speed I’m used to. I’m never going to be a power player and trying to gain a lot of speed. I know I have a lot of speed or strength in my body that I’m not using, but I don’t think it’s necessary for me to kind of change the player that I am.”

Nordqvist, 30, has camped out in the top three in greens in regulation on the LPGA since 2014. She’s accurate off the tee too, ranking fourth. The tougher the setup, the more she likes it. She even won last year’s Evian playoff in a hailstorm.

McCormick and Nordqvist spend a good deal of time on short game, a specialty of the popular instructor, most-known for his work with Jordan Spieth.

Nordqvist has never finished worse than a tie for 26th at the ANA. She has four top-10s in eight starts.

The Solheim Cup stalwart doesn’t look at rankings anymore. The thing she’s most interested in now is getting more putts to drop. To that end, she’s sticking to the drills McCormick gave her and practicing patience.

Nordqvist began dating Kevin McAlpine, a former player in his own right who now caddies for Lexi Thompson, last spring. They tee it up together back home in Orlando, Fla., and take each other on in short-game contests. Last week at the Kia Classic, McAlpine had the chance to watch Nordqvist in competition when she and Thompson were on opposite sides of the draw.

“Her short game, it doesn’t look like she panics,” said McAlpine. “She takes her time. I mean her short game was really good. We go out and play short game, 21, chipping all the time at home. It’s good. She just needed that little bit of confidence. I think Cameron has kind of helped give that back to her.”

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