It’s so rare to write about a college senior these days. No matter what the sport, the legitimate, four-year kid with enough varsity letters to adorn every corner of a room has become like the beluga whale. They exist, but you have to work hard to find them.
Even more atypical is a legitimate senior star who has stayed at the same institution for four years. Assuming they have hung around the college scene, most transfer at least once, or perhaps sit out a year. For others, the siren song of professionalism has lured them away.
Ingrid Lindblad, our 2022 Female Amateur of the Year, is the unicorn of the bayou, a four-year superstar at Louisiana State University who could, by all rights, have turned pro at any point in her career and probably been successful. As a junior golfer in Sweden, Lindblad won the Irish Girls’ Open Stroke Play Championship and the German Girls Open. She partnered with fellow Swedes Frida Kinhult, Sara Kjellker, Maja Stark, Linn Grant and Beatrice Wallin to win the Ladies European Team Championships twice. Three of those are LPGA Tour players. One is on the Epson Tour and the other is on the LET Access Tour. The only one still in school is Lindblad, who has 10 collegiate victories for the Tigers.
On Thursday at Pine Needles, wearing her LSU purple shirt and with retired LPGA Tour winner Sophie Gustafson on the bag, Lindblad shot 6-under 65, the lowest 18-hole score by an amateur in U.S. Women’s Open history.
She came to Baton Rouge because of fellow swede Madelene Sagstrom and then promptly broke almost every record on the LSU books. Right out of the gate, Lindblad set the school scoring record for a freshman and also picked up two collegiate wins. Not only was she a first-team All-American her freshman year, Lindblad became the first freshman in school history to be Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
That summer, she played the Nordic Golf Tour, a professional tour in Scandinavia, where she won twice and rose to No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, behind Rose Zhang.
Anyone else would have turned pro immediately. If it hadn’t been a COVID year, Lindblad might have been tempted. Instead, she returned to LSU where she won twice more as a sophomore, including the prestigious Jackson Stephens Cup, and earned first-team All-America honors for the second straight year. Later that summer she captured the European Ladies Amateur Championship by three strokes.
Once more, with the lure of professional golf staring her in the face, Lindblad flew back to the bayou for another season as a student-athlete.
But Global Golf Post does not base its Amateur of the Year honor on persistence. Lindblad needed a strong 2022 to justify this award. She delivered. This past spring, Lindblad won four college events – the Moon Golf Invitational, the Clover Cup, the Clemson Invitational and then she sank a 38-foot eagle putt on the final hole to capture the SEC Women’s Championship individual title. That gave her nine collegiate titles. The previous LSU record was seven wins, set by Jenny Lidback in 1986. Lindblad also went 2-0-1 in the match-play portion of the SEC Championship, leading the Tigers to their first team conference title in 30 years.
Away from school, Lindblad finished runner-up in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, a shot behind Anna Davis. If it weren’t for Davis’ bucket hat and cool demeanor, Lindblad would have been the story of the ANWA.
But it was what happened two months later that woke up the world to Ingrid Lindblad.
For the first two rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles, the USGA paired Lindblad with Annika Sorenstam, who, by winning the 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Open, received an exemption into the field at Pine Needles, site of her second Open victory in 1996. “When I saw that I was playing with her, I was in shock,” Lindblad said of the pairing. “I have played in her tournaments since 2014, so getting to play with her was a dream come true. Then on the first tee box, I get her scorecard. I was like, ‘I have Annika’s scorecard in my hand.’ But it was really cool.”
If Lindblad was nervous, she didn’t show it. On Thursday at Pine Needles, wearing her LSU purple shirt and with retired LPGA Tour winner Sophie Gustafson on the bag, Lindblad shot 6-under 65, the lowest 18-hole score by an amateur in U.S. Women’s Open history.
That afternoon, she was asked about the U.S. Women’s Open prize money. The winner would take home $1.8 million. “Do you regret not turning pro a day or two ago?” she was asked.
“I’m going to stay in college for another year or so,” Lindblad said without hesitation. “It would be fun with a little bit of money, but I’m going to stay in college for a little bit more.”
That week in North Carolina, Lindblad broke the 36- and 54-hole amateur scoring records, finishing T11 and earning the silver medal for low amateur. In the process, Lindblad made 66 of 69 putts from 10 feet or less and was a perfect 50 for 50 inside 5 feet. Through 54 holes, she was the only player in the field who didn’t miss a putt inside 10 feet.
“She has an ability to only remember and focus on the good,” Gustafson said of her fellow Swede. “We golfers, we don't do that. If we come back from a round and we hit three bad shots and three really, really good ones, we’re going to talk about the bad ones. She doesn't. She goes, ‘I had the perfect one,’ and I go, ‘You did.’ It's like blinders.”
In late October, Lindblad put on the blinders again. At the Battle at the Beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, an event hosted by Texas Christian University, Lindblad won her 10th career collegiate tournament in record-setting fashion, becoming the first player in LSU history to post a 54-hole score under 200. She shot 67-64-64 and won by seven shots.
That event alone might have pushed her over the top for us. But on the whole, there was no doubt Ingrid Lindblad deserves the 2022 Global Golf Post Female Amateur of the Year award.
Top: Sweden's Ingrid Lindblad forgoes the professional game to excel as an amateur in 2022.