Linn Grant seldom does things by halves. When she was leading the field by two going into the final round of last year’s Scandinavian Mixed, the general consensus of opinion was that one of the men would overtake her. Not a bit of it. The 24-year-old Swede had a closing 64 to finish nine clear of Henrik Stenson and Marc Warren, and 14 clear of her sister players.
The level of belief she demonstrated in winning the recent Dana Open by three shots from Allisen Corpuz was much the same. Her third-round 62 left her six ahead of Corpuz and, when this year’s US Open champion made a run of four birdies in the last five holes, Grant knew she had banked a big-enough lead to make off with what would be her first LPGA title. “I don’t mind what I win by, but the more shots you’re ahead the merrier,” she told GGP.
The local golfing fraternity loved having Grant back in France for the Amundi Evian Championship last week. She had finished in a share of eighth place in ’22 and, again at Evian Resort Golf Club, she won the Jabra Ladies Open in May for her fifth title on the Ladies European Tour, all in a span of 14 months. They are a sophisticated people, the French, and what so appeals to them about Grant is her on-course composure and a degree of elegance which is given to the few and the very few. Even her emotions are tidily packed behind a face which gives nothing away.
There are others who view Grant as a somewhat mysterious and silent soul, an impression which would seem to have had its origins in her decision not to join the LPGA Tour until the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for international travellers had been lifted.
“I tend to tell people what I think they should know rather than what they want me to say.”
So much did people crave an explanation that she eventually had no option but to send out a statement which included the following: “I understand some people want to know why I am not playing in the U.S. I respect that. The simple reason is that I am not vaccinated. Regarding why, I ask the same respect back. It is something I want to keep internally with my family and team.”
Last week, when GGP asked Grant whether she thought it was her refusal “to tell all” which had prevented people from getting to know the real Linn Grant, she was not about to disagree. “I tend to tell people what I think they should know rather than what they want me to say,” she said in the well-couched way that is so impressing Megan McGuire, the LPGA media official doing duty last week.
Yet last Wednesday, a rather different side to the player was in evidence. Namely, when a French media man asked how she prepared for bad weather. Did she, for example, do as eventual Open champion Brian Harman at Hoylake in having 10 gloves hanging from the spokes of her umbrella?
That Grant had never heard of anything quite so unlikely resulted in a spate of stifled but friendly giggles. She told the gentleman that she carried only two gloves and he, far from being disappointed, went away happy. Two gloves, it seemed, were enough to make his story work. “So, you carry more than one pair,” he confirmed, dutifully.
Last year, on the LET, Grant was voted the Players’ Player of the Year. “It isn’t an award given out for golf alone,” said Nicola Kenton, media official at the organisation. “Yes, she won the Race to Costa del Sol last year, but the players are also looking for someone who’s making an impact, someone who gets along with everyone.”
Maja Stark, a sister Swede who distinguished herself by spending her prize money for winning the 2022 New South Wales Open on a violin, is a particular friend-cum-rival and one with whom it is easy to see Grant being paired in the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesín. In the nicest possible way, the two are forever taking the mickey out of each other.
It is in the evenings that Grant tends to retreat into herself. “I love mixing with all my friends on tour,” she said, “but I’d say I’m as independent as I am sociable. Usually, my batteries have run down at the end of a day at the course and, as often as not, all I want is to go back to my hotel.”
And maybe wake up in time for one of the two-hour, Swedish-type breakfasts which is one of her favourite pastimes.
Now that she is finally on the LPGA Tour, Grant couldn’t be happier. What makes the environment so easy for someone such as herself is the Swedish Federation and its head of golf, Patrik Jonsson. “They take care of us like they did when we were juniors,” she said.
Other European federations often will leave their players to themselves once they have departed the amateur ranks, but Jonsson is a firm believer in no time being more important than when a player has moved into the professional area.
“He keeps us up-to-date with all the latest trends in training and, if we are based in Sweden, we can have indoor practice sessions over the winter months where they help us to correct anything we’ve started to do wrong at the tournaments,” Grant said. “It’s amazing just how much money and time they spend on us all.”
Jonsson, interestingly, believes that one of his federation’s strongest suits is how it doesn’t do as many other countries in getting “carried away with standout kids” at the expense of those who do not shine until a few years later.
“It’s easy,” he said, “to sink a putt when you’re 14; not so easy when you’re older.” Grant, for her part, did not catch the eye of the federation until her early teens.
Ahead of last week, she spent a fortnight back home in Halmstad. There was a little practice thrown in but, for the most part, she was riding horses with an old friend.
Is she any good at it?
“I’m not good enough to compete,” said this surprise package of a character, “but it’s something I’d like to do when I’ve finished playing golf.”
Who would not bet on her getting as much out of a good horse as she does out of her golf clubs?
Top: Linn Grant keeps her private side private by revealing only what needs to be known.
mark runnacles, let