LPGA and LET player Pernilla Lindberg has had her hands full playing on both ladies’ tours. To add to her schedule, the 30-year-old Swede also got a chance to represent her country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the first time she’s represented her country since the 2008 Espirito Santo Trophy. She finished a respectable T31.
You’ve played in 25 events and have missed just eight cuts. How would you grade your performance this year so far?
I have been working really hard on my game in general, but I put in a lot of hours of short game practice and putting cause everyone can always improve there. And it’s really been paying off for me. I feel like I have more short game shots to choose from, and I’m a lot more comfortable around the greens in general. What has not been going to well this year so far is my ball striking. I had some great weeks, but just on average, it’s not been as good as usual. Thanks to my short game I’ve still been able to save some rounds that would have probably not been as good if it wasn’t for the good short game and putting.
You represented Sweden in the Olympics this summer in Rio. What was that opportunity like, and how do you see it playing into the greater narrative of growing the game?
I just see it as such a huge opportunity, especially for women’s golf. We’re working so hard every week to try to reach out to a broader audience. The Olympics is such a good opportunity for us.
But then also, for me to be able to call myself an Olympic athlete, I think that’s really cool because golfers — for so long — we have had the reputation of not being a sport or us not being athletes. To get that kind of confirmation is really cool. And then to get to represent my country, it’s something that we don’t really get to do very often. Being in that whole environment with all the other Swedish athletes…it’s huge.
Would you rather win a major, a Solheim Cup or a gold medal?
I would take any three of those options right now. A Solheim Cup would be extremely fun because you’re in a team environment and you have 11 other players to celebrate with. The Olympics reaches a much broader audience than we can ever reach out to any other week on the LPGA tour. So it’s a tough question. But at the moment I think a major would probably still be the biggest, absolutely. I would take a win in all three situations, for sure. But for a golfer, I think a major is still number one at the moment.
Any particular one that stands out to you as more important than the others?
The first major I think of is the U.S. Open. People everywhere have heard of the U.S. Open. I’ve also, so far, had my best finish in a major at the U.S. Open (T5 in 2015). So maybe because of that, that’s the first one that comes to mind.
Do you feel there is a lot of competition between the ladies on tour? How do you all get along?
With as much as we travel, I have some of my best friends out here. I think that’s so important because I spend at least 30 weeks out of my year on the road with these girls. If I didn’t have close friends out here, it would be very lonely. But yeah, then you’re switching off into a competitive mood, but without it being nasty in any way. So I think it’s just great to have so many other nice girls to share this experience with out here.
What’s something you try to do personally on tour to advance yours and the LPGA’s brand?
I feel like every week I try to work really hard in the pro-am, to give our sponsors a great day and a great experience out there. That’s something that we all can do. We so often get to hear that we LPGA girls are so much more approachable than if they had played in a PGA Tour pro-am in the past or something like that.
So that’s something that I really try to do. And then at the same time, when I see young girls out watching during a tournament, I try to give them a smile or ask how they’re doing, maybe give them a golf ball or something, just for them to have a good experience and wanting to come back to the game of golf again.
I bet that really makes a difference to those young fans! What’s something most people don’t know about being a female professional golfer?
How much hard work goes into it; all the long hours of practicing, golf is such a complex sport. And it’s not just a couple hours of practice and then you’re done for the day. You’re working on your putting. You’re working on your chipping. You’re working on the driving range. You’re going to the gym. At the same time, you’re organizing your schedule and you’re just trying to have a normal life as well. So it’s just a lot of hard work…some people would probably call it a lot of sacrifices. I don’t feel that way cause I’ve always just enjoyed what I’m doing.
If you could take away one thing from your time on the LPGA, what would it be?
The first thing that comes to mind that I can take away from being on the LPGA tour would be all the places I get to travel to. I am so lucky. I have been able to travel to so many corners of the world and see some really cool places that I probably would’t have if it wasn’t for me being on the LPGA tour.