RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA | As weekend rooting interests go, it’s hard not to pull for second-round ANA Inspiration co-leader Pernilla Lindberg, even though more than a few casual golf fans (and a fair number of avid ones) just read that name, rubbed their chins and said, “Who?”
The 31 year old, who equaled a new 36-hole tournament record at 12-under and played the first two rounds bogey free, needs no introduction in her home country of Sweden. Lindberg was a world-class amateur golfer, contributing to Sweden’s victory in the 2008 Espirito Santo Trophy. And she was a darn good competitive downhill skier.
A lot of Oklahoma State fans also remember her, a smiling, blonde who didn’t have the most textbook golf swing but was arguably the most talented natural athlete on the Cowboys’ women’s golf roster. But outside of those small circles, few appreciate what those who follow the LPGA closely have known for years: Lindberg is a delight; a lovely, charming, humble, charismatic woman who draws you closer with every effortless smile and sauntering step.
She and her fiancé and caddie, Daniel Taylor, an Englishman who played college golf in Louisiana, live in Orlando where they are the perfect immigrants – embracing of America and her people, places and culture, while remaining true to their roots. Taylor follows proper football (soccer) and Pernilla still walks to and from her local grocery store, something done in Florida only by Europeans and the homeless.
“(Danny) caddied for me for a good five-, almost six years,” Lindberg said. “Then we took a break, only on the golf course,” she was quick to add, lest anyone think there were problems in the couple’s relationship. “He caddied for a couple other players last year. I felt like it was great for both of us but I really missed him on the bag.
“There’s no one who knows me, my game better than him. I trust him so much. It was really me kind of begging him to come back on my bag this year.
“We both learned a lot, him working for other players and me working with a couple other caddies last year. So I don’t regret that decision at all but I’m very happy to have him back.”
She’s also happy to have her parents in Rancho Mirage this week. They’re a close family. Her father, Jan, was a scratch golfer who played on the Swedish Senior National Amateur Team and her mother is an 18-handicap who loves the game. Jan holds a record as the longest serving club president in Sweden, having held the top office at the Bolnäs Golf Club for 40 years.
“The golf season back home in the northern part of Sweden where I’m from is obviously really short,” she said. “But if I wanted to see my family during the summers, I had to be at the golf course. And I loved it. Even before I was really playing, I was out there picking flowers and rolling around in the grass. I was just in the environment all the time.
“My parents still play a lot of golf. Wednesday they went out and played 18 holes in the morning and they then came out and watched me play in the pro-am in the afternoon. So they love their golf, and it’s fun to have them here.”
It’s also wonderful to have Lindberg in the final group on Saturday, especially since she has never led a major on the weekend and never won in nine years on tour. The swing is much better. She had a lot of wasted motion in year’s past. Now, the plane is perfect for an athletic player and her leg action is reminiscent of the some of the classic swings of the past. The only thing missing is a victory.
“Obviously, nowadays, we have a lot of young players that come out and win right away, but I haven’t let myself get frustrated that I haven’t had the success yet that I’ve wanted,” she said. “I just kind of keep plugging away and feel that I improved year by year.
“I’m just collecting so much experience out here every year. I’m getting more and more ready to be in this situation. Every time I’m there, I’m just so much more comfortable.”
So, root for Pernilla Lindberg. She’s worth every second you invest.