It’s hard to believe, but today is the 17th anniversary of the day I shot 59 at Moon Valley CC in Phoenix. That's a long time ago, but the memories are still so clear it feels just like yesterday.
So how did that magical round happen? During my formative junior years on the Swedish National Team, we talked about the VISION 54 approach. It is based on the idea that if you play a course every day, you will eventually birdie every hole; therefore, why couldn’t you do it all in one day? I have always thought it is possible for someone to hit every fairway, every green and one-putt each hole. It was instilled in me from an early age to think positively and believe in your abilities.
This particular Friday started out as an ordinary day. I remember I was running a little behind and didn’t have a particularly good warm up before my round. I had an early tee time and started on the back nine. I got off to a good start, hitting the fairway, and the green and one putting for birdie. I followed up with another birdie and then one more.
After four birdies in a row, I asked my caddie, “How many birdies in a row have you seen?” He answered four. I knew I could do more as I had previously made six in a row during a British Open at Sunningdale Golf Club. I kept going and was thinking positively; after eight straight birdies I looked at my scorecard, saw all the circles and suddenly got very nervous. I thought, “I’m on my way to shooting 54!” Needing to steady myself, I turned to my caddie and told him I’m just looking to make par because I’m so nervous. I did, and made the turn at eight under.
Upon arriving at the first tee, my 10th hole, I suddenly got a new burst of energy and was ready for some more circles on the card. I went on to birdie holes 10, 11, 12 and 13. Now I’m 12-under-par through 13 holes. At this point, I knew this was not going to be an ordinary day. I was on my way to making history, but had to stay focused. I parred a few holes and then I birdied my 17th hole, a par five. Of course, I was nervous on the last hole – who wouldn’t be?! Now I was 13 under and well aware that no female had ever shot the magical number 59 in competition.
My adrenaline was pumping, the crowd was enormous and I knew what was on the line. I decided to hit a fairway metal off the tee, just to place the ball in the fairway – mission accomplished. This last hole was a shorter hole, so I had less than 110 yards to the hole. I decided to continue my aggressive play and go for the pin. I took a club less, because I was pumped and the ball would fly further. I hit a wedge to 9 feet. Relief flooded over me. Suddenly I had a very makeable putt for 58. My birdie try had a little break from left to right; I rolled it just over the left edge, leaving me with almost three feet coming back for par. I decided to mark it. My playing partners that day were Meg Mallon and, ironically, my sister Charlotta. They had finished up their rounds, so I had some time to think about the putt. I kept telling myself:
“It's only three feet, and I have done this millions of times before in practice and competition. The ball doesn't know where we are or what score I am about to shoot. I knew that if I miss, it will be an incredible round and if I make it, it's history. Trust yourself!”
I lined up the ball, took the putter back, accelerated through and it went in! I ran to my caddie and leaped into his arms.
What a special day! I was given the nickname “Mrs. 59.” Today it's my lucky number and I even have it on my ball so I am constantly reminded that it's possible to make history.
At the Foundation’s junior tournaments, I often speak to the girls about my career both on and off the course. I frequently share the story of this day to show how we all can achieve “Your 59.” We all have the potential to play better, whether you are a beginner trying to break 100 or an avid golfer trying to shoot par. Have a vision and see yourself in that role achieving your goals. Remain focused and think about the current shot at hand, as that is the most important one of them all.
Good luck and hope you shoot “Your 59!”